Amazing! Quest OEMs Liquidware Lab's VDI assessment toolkit and provides it for free!

From the "hell yeah!" department, Quest Software has licensed Liquidware Labs' VDI assessment tool and decided to provide it for free to everyone.

From the "hell yeah!" department, Quest Software has licensed Liquidware Labs' VDI assessment tool and decided to provide it for free to everyone. No strings attached. Just go download it!

For those unfamiliar with Liquidware Labs, I wrote an article on SearchVirtualDesktop.com last month about the importance of getting a realistic assessment of your current traditional environment before moving to VDI. I highlighted products from three vendors: Lakeside Software, App-DNA, and Liquidware Labs.

Liquidware shouldn't be completely unfamiliar to readers of BrianMadden.com. I wrote about them when they were just getting started a year-and-a-half ago, and later in the year I sat down with cofounder J Tyler Rohrer and recorded a video interview about them and their product:

Fig 1. Tyler demonstrates why his nickname is T-Rex. (Seriously)

The basic idea is that you install the assessment tool in your existing pre-VDI desktop environment. It watches what the users do. It figures out which apps they use, how intense the users are, whether they use peripherals, how much graphical elements change, and about a hundred other things. Then it collates all the raw data and builds a nice report that shows, for example, how many and which users make sense for VDI, where your problem apps will be, etc. They even get into some basic server sizing and architecture recommendations via a configurable "VDI fitness profile."

Quest + Liquidware = Free!

Getting started with the Quest/Liquidware assessment tool is easy. Just download the 700mb zip file from their community site. Inside you'll find PDF release notes, a getting started guide, and a 700 OVA virtual appliance which you just import into your existing ESX environment (or you can migrate it to Hyper-V). The included license allows you to run the tool for an unlimited number of desktops for 45 days. After you configure the basic settings for the virtual appliance, you deploy an agent to all the machines you want to monitor and sit back and wait for the data to roll in!

So what do you think? Has anyone out there used Liquidware's assessment tool? (I know this is what VMware's consulting services folks use for their assessments, as well as a lot of Citrix partners.)

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Wow Awsome!!


I'm all over it like a h***** on a h*****


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As I understood it gathers data from PC-s, much like Citrix EdgeSight or Microsoft SCOM...


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That is true - we collect configuration and resource consumption data from desktops, laptops, networks, hosts, storage assets, application servers, physical or virtual, cloud ports and apps, as well as application inventory, complexity, and usage patterns - and give you the power to report, validate, troubleshoot, and SEE how your existing desktops perform today, contrast that with your Pilots, Production Rollouts, and insure consistent user experience.


Before, during, and after Desktop Transformation Projects - the quote i heard yesterday from a customer is priceless:


"If you are doing desktop virtualization, any type of desktop transformation project- Stratusphere is NOT optional. It is a must have"


Having an army of Thought Leading Partners and Platforms using our solutions daily is great validation.


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Yawn. While I like the free and it's good for some, how important is this stuff really? I mean do we need these tools to tell us if a set of users are ready for RDS? We've determined common sense and standard inventory tools help in  migrations and have done it for years. These silver bullet tools are never good enough unless you are very simple. And if you are simple, why on earth are you doing VDI in the first place given the cost vs. RDS which does not needs these tools. That's another point, from what I can tell this is a VDI only tool. If that is the case it's a complete waste to F'ing time.


Even the AppDNA type tools only go so far and add to costs. Bottom line migration to Windows 7 means you have got to do it bit my bit. Pick some F'ing users, pull your finger out of your behind and figure $hit out and stop lining vendors pockets for tools that add little value for a one time event. Using some BS assessment criteria just gives blogger something to say horray about, analysts to write about and it reality they are $h1t for the most part. Come on LWL, are they still in business, yes just with the investment from Quest, VDI only! Am I in my right mind going to use their marginal profile solution as the upsell they will try to shove down my throat. F no way, I'd rather use my brain and do it myself.


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@appdetective


The name of the tool suggests that it is VDI only, but if you follow the link it says right on the front page that it supports RDS as well:


   * Identifies which users are a best fit for VDI, Terminal Server/RD Session Host, off-line VDI, application virtualization, and blade PCs


The tool looks pretty nice to me. It identifies graphical intensity, CPU, RAM and IOPS usage for each machine and for each individual application. I wouldn't suggest that it is a silver bullet, but that's useful information to have if you are implementing any sort of RDS/VDI solution and the tool is free, so why not give it a go.


Even if you've already implemented a VDI solution and you want to understand its performance characteristics, you could run this tool and see things like which applications are generating the most IO or which applications are consuming the most CPU.


But hey, if the tool doesn't give you information that you want then don't use it, simple as that.


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@martin.sheppard Must be my eyes but I can't any mention of it and certainly does not say that in their product brochure. www.liquidwarelabs.com/.../stratFitFrAndBk.pdf I did find a quote however form Jeff Fischer while we was at Desktone, who is now at RES :-) Also of interest is that there are bunch of other's in this space that have solutions www.citrix.com/.../subfeature.asp


Fair point on the free, so just try it and it may be useful. I'm just reacting to the "Amazing" reference to this, because all this is IMO is some money from Quest to help them get attention which is actually fine, but a spade is a spade. Next we'll have @edgeseeker commenting that these guys should add a containers assessment field :-)


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I should have clarified that Quest did actually modify the code from LWL to also work with terminal servers (as you'll see in their docs but not LWL's).


Also, to clarify; my "awesome" statement was due to the price being free.


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@Appdetective - We're actually scrapping Containers in Q1 2011.  


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@appdetective


With all due respect...been around this game for a while too, and you know what, we all have learned a lot since those days.


The high order bit = visibility is key when engaging in any transformation project.  Before you start a project (assessment), during a project (validation/healthcheck), or as one goes to scale (user experience, monitoring, root cause isolation, etc).  End point, network, machine, os, application, storage, app servers – they all count in the equation – VDI or Not. Our users consume, and touch a myriad of resources as they go about their productive contribution to the companies they work for, and I suspect what they use, the delivery methods we choose, and the tools we bring to bear will also change. We just happen to make some great tools for todays challenges, and will continue to do so as the horizon evolves.


Now, I applaud your ability to roll up your sleeves, and your domain knowledge, and deep understanding of the metrics that go into plan and design, vendor choices, architecture, remediation, troubleshooting etc. ....  Most do not.


In fact, for me at least – this is not about the lining of pockets – this is about contributing to change. My hope is that in 10 years when you all think of me, it is that I did my best to advance this science. I think there are a lot of us here working to do that in a number of ways.


We are psyched that the largest virtualization platforms, hardware manufacturers, storage vendors, system integrators, and regional vars around the world use our gear for everything ranging from assessments, to health checks, to migration, profile management, and monitoring the largest virtual desktop and application deployments out there. Oh, and here is the kicker – while most projects begin with exploration of desktop transformation – many of our customers use our profile and monitoring solutions on physical desktops and laptops.


You are right about the complexity of desktop transformation – you are wrong about the importance of tools.


There is no need, IMHO, in a forum such as this, to lobby derogatory comments - before you actually boot up and try the solutions.


Try it, you'll like it ;)


T.Rex


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@edgeseeker really giving up on containers why? I was thinking single image plus Ringcube is perhaps a better container approach since they go deeper than parallels and therefore can deal with more apps minus the scalability of user model containers.


@t.rex good that you pushing, but I did take a look at your product. I just didn't think it was very good, in fact I thought Lanamark had much better analysis but I still was not willing to spend money for something I know how to do myself. My opinion only does not mean others should not give you or other in this space a shot. I also didn't think your profile only solution is good enough to deal with the user space. If I wanted to solve the user management problem, i'd be looking at Appsense hands down. The layers guy are still a few years out but that's another area of interest. Ringcube is also interesting, here now and could solve it. Unidesk are interesting, but scale/maturity is big concern. Wanova are also interesting because I don't need a hypervisor and that could mean  I could handle my physical fleet also. So with all those options and considerations, respectfully your profile solution represents about 2% of my need, just as does RTO and Sepago etc. I do however like the fact that your profile solution is simple in that no infra is really required, but then again so is Immidio.


As you point out, I don't need the assessment tool, but I disagree with the assertion that as many people as you elude to do. Sure plenty of stupid lazy admins whose sill sets are out of date who only know how to push vendor buttons that do the work for them. However I deliberately pointed to the Citrix link to highlight that they show several partner that address parts of the. migration problem. i.e there is no silver bullet., even Citrix understands that.


There's the WTF do I have part. Many people have inventory tools, can script a few lines of code and add it to their login script. At best all you need is a rough estimate. The whole measure IOPS before deciding go to RDS or VDI etc, really do most people care, why assume your rules are correct..... They will experiment and fall victim to implementation pressure, I.e boss yelling idiot get that Win 7 migration done now or you loose your budget. Brut force is how most people will do it like every other Windows, Laptop, Application and XenApp migration. It's real life. Sure ISV types will use tools and try to sell services and you are smart selling to those guys for people who want those services and still employ brain dead IT staff that really need to be fired.


Then there is the i've got to migrate my apps. Guess what, most people have MSI packages with software distribution. With VDI/RDS they will do exactly the same thing, because they have limited time to F around with immature App-Virt solutions and get to Window 7 quickly. Sure they will start to do more App-virt but it is not a requirement for most. That's just vendor TCO BS for most part (especially from MS trying to sell you SA) since App-Virt is average at best and not all apps can be virtualized. In a migration all you need to do is select the first group, get a sense of what they do, admin tribal knowledge in most cases, test the MSI's they have on Win 7, repackage or App-Virt the ones that don't work and off you go. i.E break down the problem into small steps just like we have always done.


User migration. all the settings and crap, multiple profiles, x32 vs. x64, group policy etc all need to be dealt with. That's where the Appsense's of the world come in to help deal with this mess. But even they are not perfect and complex to configure. So again most people will simple just create a new profile mess in Windows 7  and then figure it out afterwards. You can also write scripts to help you etc.


So migrations are complex, that's the nature of Windows desktop, laptops, TS all being lumped together. Profiles and an assessment tool represent a fraction of what is required. What is required is a solid program manager who knows what the F he/she is doing. If that person can then leverage some tools due to stupid IT people or lack of resources then things like your tools may make sense. There is no silver bullet and the bottom line is it requires hard work and smart people who understand the sapce to get right. Most people don't get that, go gaga over vendor tools and create a F'ing mess.


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Excuse me for being somewhat skeptical, but I've found that nothing is really free.  Can someone please clarify if this is the whole assessment solution from Liquidware or a modified version only exposing ceratin functionality?


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Lots of great discussion here. A few things I should clarify:


- The product name is "VDI Assessment" because most people who are new to the world of desktop virtualization think "VDI" first and that’s what they’ll search for. BUT this tool also assesses suitability for Terminal Server/Session Host and over time we'll expand it to analyze suitability for a wider range of virtualization technologies too. It also highlights those who will be hardest to virtualize. One goal is to take someone who wants to know if VDI will heal all their ills and educate them that there are alternatives, and a blended approach is usually going to deliver the lowest cost.


- Yes, free means free. You need to register on the Quest site to get it, and support is provided through the vWorkspace online Community. If you want hand-holding and pro services then engage with one of our partners who can help with your assessment. The initial license supplied in the download is only for 15 days, but if you ask nicely we’ll extend it as-needed to help you complete your assessment project.


- Yes, we have modified this from the Liquidware Stratusphere code, but we haven't taken anything away. A lot of the changes are under the covers but you'll already see some extra reports and we’ll continue to update it over time.


- This has nothing to do with Liquidware's ProfileUnity product line. If you're looking for user profile mgt then we would encourage you to also evaluate vWorkspace's MetaProfiles and user environment configuration features which are included as standard in the vWorkspace product


Thanks for your interest and remember that VDI Asssessment is a virtual appliance so you can just download it and boot to start your evaluation.


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@Appdetective - Politics.


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@edgeseeker - We're looking at containers as well, so from what I can gather it's not a technical reason for you to leave containers, you still love it.  Just want to confirm before I go too far down that road.


Cheeky, but I was hoping to have some discussion with you offline on containers / quest solutions.


Sorry to hijack the post


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@edgeseeker. May not be a bad thing. Parallel is all focused on the service provider market anyway if you discount their Type 2 business. Will be interesting to see if there are any compelling stories with Virtuozzo containers and desktops in the service provider world. You are probably better plugged into any traction stories than me. If there are would be good to share with the community.


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Sorry for misinformation: the VDI Assessment tool comes with a free 45-day license, not 15 as I stated above. It's for unlimited users.


If you need more than 45 days, just ask!


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What do people really want to see in a VDI / HDV assessment product? Features could include workload assessment, hypervisor monitoring, uber dashboard, inventory mgmt, and more.


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I just discovered this on the Lanamark blog.lanamark.com/.../quest-makes-liquidware-labs-stratusphere-free-intrusive-agents-and-no-privacy-included.html


Given the Wikipedia leaks, why would I want to use a product with these terms? Perhaps Quest or Liquidware would like to clarify their position. I'd also like to know if the agentless claims by Liquidware labs are true and wonder how much a lack of an agent limits Lanamark.


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The text mentioned in the Lanamark blog post is actually something we carried over from Liquidware Stratusphere in Quest VDI Assessment 1.0. After review it appears we can safely remove it - expect an updated version in the next day or two.


To clarify: the assessment data is not transmitted to Quest or any other third party - it stays in the database in your datacenter.


More on this at: communities.quest.com/.../1793


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As t.Rex said above, we're elated to have been chosen by yet another leading platform leader to use our assessment technology!


@appdetective, we do not claim to be agent-less but we did use that term at one time by us to describe our self dissolving agent for assessments (we have not used agent-less in ).  It's a cool feature which automatically removes the agent from the environment at a determined time. Our "agent" does not require any traditional install, it is rolled out with a simple Group Policy. To go as in-depth as we do an agent must be used on the desktops, however, with this very innovative deployment it is non-obtrusive.


Re: the standard privacy statement we ship in the product:


Stratusphere provides unprecedented in-depth monitoring of desktops to assess for next desktop readiness and provide ongoing user experience management. The in-depth information that it can provide about desktop/server usage and access is also used by some customers to assist in compliance of rigid government requirements such as HIPPA, GLBA, and Sarbanes Oxley.


No assessment or usage data is ever transferred offsite or to Liquidware Labs.


Any commercial product that goes as in-depth for assessment and user experience monitoring should carry a disclaimer warning about how the data is gathered.  Furthermore, customers can modify the advisement notice in the product to reflect their own corporate policies.


We even go a step further to protecting usage data within customer sites.  Stratusphere supports the option of automatically scrubbing the USERNAME and MACHINE NAME individually with a simple command that can be used at the security officer’s request.  This allows Stratusphere to provide detailed transaction information per application associated to AD/LDAP user groups. Liquidware Labs customers that would like further detail on these features can consult the product’s documentation or contact our support group.


It's powerful, in-depth, and has an innovative deployment method. The platform vendors choosing us seem to agree.


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@t.rex and @Jason E. Smith, does your software agent install a filter driver and do some kind of packet inspection?


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@johanv  Great question!  


Our light-weight and self dissolvable agent is a kernal driver.


Our advanced agent for Stratusphere UX (User Experience) monitoring, adds the ability to go even more in-depth and invokes several of our patented packet inspection technologies.


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