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It's a pleasure to announce the availability of the UEM Smackdown 2.0 whitepaper and book.

It's a pleasure to announce the availability of the UEM Smackdown 2.0 whitepaper and book. Together with other PQR colleagues and community friends such as Aaron Parker and Jeremy Moskowitz we have spent quite a lot of time updating the previous and well received UEM Smackdown.

UEM Smackdown..?

Do you want to know the different User Environment Management solutions? Do you want to know the role of UEM in Application and Desktop Delivery solutions such as VDI? Are you looking for insights into User Environment Management? Are you looking for an independent overview of the User Environment Management (UEM) solutions and curious about the different features and functions each UEM vendor is offering? If so, this is the whitepaper you MUST read!

In the current market, there is an increasing demand for unbiased information about User Environment Management solutions. This white paper focuses on solutions that are anticipated to have an important role in User Environment Management. An overview of features has been created to enable a better understanding and comparison of capabilities.

The overall goal of this whitepaper is to share information about:

  • What is User Environment Management?
  • Explain the pros and cons of User Environment Management.
  • Describe the strategic questions and functionality of UEM solutions.
  • User Environment Management functionality and solutions overview.
  • Describe the different UEM vendors and their solutions.
  • Compare the functionality and features of various UEM solutions.

Traditionally the Windows endpoint is maintained with Client Management or PC lifecycle management solutions such as Symantec/Altiris Deployment Solution, IBM BigFix, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, Novell ZenWorks and others. The key functionality of these kinds of products include: OS deployment, application deployment, asset management, inventory, integration with CMDB and remote control. The primary focus of the Client Management solutions is the client device and not primarily the end-user’s workspace, so handling the User Environment, or User Workspace, isn’t in scope of the traditional approach of most of the Client Management Solutions.

Large software vendors are so focused on the management and maintenance of IT systems that they tend to forget the other important half--the user management. Users need to have a simple, uniform, fast and reliable workspace environment. Administrators would like to be able to manage this (Windows) workspace centrally, regardless of whether it is a physical or virtual workplace, implemented locally or centrally and whether the (Windows) applications are installed, streamed or virtualized. In many organizations the term ‘User Environment Management’ is still relatively unknown.

Our Definition of User Environment Management:

“User Environment Management (UEM) is a software solution that facilitates the management of the user environment and creates a dynamic, cost effective and, for the business-consumer, a transparent working environment. The focus is primarily on the end-user and his environment and not on the end user's device”

Our experience is when the organization understands the meaning of user workspace management and sees the opportunities and benefits this provides to the users and the IT organization, the customer is often surprised that this solution has not been applied earlier.

Why UEM?!

In conversations with customers and during workshop sessions we regularly receive the question: “What are the primary reasons for implementing User Environment Management Solutions?” The answers are as varied as they are many:

  • Improve user experience and consistency across different platforms, VDI, SBC and local Laptops and Desktops.
  • Create a transparent User Environment independent of the various delivery solutions and empower a smooth Desktop Transformation.
  • Improves end-user mobility, access personalized applications and settings from any machine, any Windows Operating System- Roaming users.
  • It stabilizes Windows user profiles.
  • Gain control over user profiles and truly manage them.
  • Accelerated and consistent logon times.
  • Makes migration from old to new Operating Systems and Application Delivery solutions easier. Even rollback scenario’s from a new Operating System back to an old sys-tem is possible.
  • Replace custom (legacy) scripts.
  • Central and uniform management of the User Environment is key and will result in happy administrators and users and lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Delegation of control is essential in such a management solution.
  • Provide better and granular support of user and application preferences. Never delete or restore entire user profiles.
  • It controls, facilitates and enforces user access to applications, file-types, (removable) devices, network and data resources.
  • User centric computing gains context awareness. Based on user location, device and custom settings, access to applications, data, network resources, devices and preferences is dynamically facilitated and from a security perspective enforced.
  • It facilitates Resource Management to control and optimize usage of CPU, Memory resources with focus on applications and (Virtual) Desktops.
  • The end-user is able to install applications on his (virtual) desktop even without Administrator Rights. User Installed applications with Dynamic Privileges, ideal for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and scenarios where dynamic application delivery in a static, - controlled desktop environment is needed.
  • It gives administrators and managers insights and reporting capabilities in Windows, Web applications, (virtual) desktop and license usage. It enforces license compliancy to various licensing models. Application licensing can be measured, tracked, enforced, or controlled, where needed.
  • Delivers detailed information on changes inside the User Environment Management environment that are needed as requirement for compliancy and certification standards such as Personal Information Acts (HIPAA), ISO 27001, SOX and NEN 7510.
    User Environment Management is an essential part in ‘layering the cake’ strategy, which means to separate (Physical) Hardware, Operating System, Applications and User Personalization. 

UEM Functionality

In a User Environment Management solution user personalization, applications and data need to be portable and context aware. The focus of UEM Solutions is the dynamic composition of the Users’ Environment. The environment, or workspace, is dynamically composed where the solution handles:

  • User Personalization: Application and Desktop Management; Application settings and configuration preferences, User Personalization such as printer settings.
  • User Profile Management: Manage Windows User profiles; local, roaming, hybrid, mandatory.
  • Application and Access Control: Security Management; enforce access to applications, persona and context aware.
  • Resource Management: Application performance optimization and management.
  • License Management: Insights, reporting and enforcing the use of licenses.
  • Application Delivery: User centric Application Installation with Dynamic Privileges, User Installed Applications.
  • Monitoring, Auditing and Reporting facilities on various levels with focus on the user environment.
  • User support: Facilitating user support.

    UEM Strategy

    With more than 40 different questions, the whitepaper can be helpful to determine and fill-in your strategy around User Environment Management and its role within Application and Desktop Delivery.

    Vendor Matrix, who has focus on what

    There are quite a few vendors in the “User Environment Management space”, which is why assembling a 'Smackdown' makes sense. The diagram below gives an overview of the focus of the various User Environment Management (UEM) software vendors. This diagram has nothing to do with the (possible) discussion about which vendor provides the most and/or best functionality or feature set.

    Feature compare matrix

    A complete overview of the all the '1001' features and functionality is available in Chapter 6 – Feature Overview in the whitepaper. On a weekly basis I receive questions such as "Which solution is the best?" One of my favorite responses is: "First, don't count the checkmarks of the different vendors; and second, when you have no idea about the requirements (both from a Business Consumer and IT-Pro perspective) flipping the coin is a fair approach in determining which solution you should choose. It saves you a lot of money on expensive consultants". A better approach is understand the question "What do you want to achieve," and read the chapter 'UEM Strategy'.

    Suggestions and improvements

    We’ve done our best to be truthful, clear, complete and accurate in investigating and writing down the different solutions. Our goal is to write an unbiased objective document where possible, which is valuable for you!. If you have any comments, corrections or suggestions for improvements of this document, we want to hear from you. We appreciate your feedback. Please send e-mail Ruben Spruijt ( or twitter @rspruijt

    Whitepaper and Book

    The whitepaper is available for download and if you're interested in a hard copy of the UEM Smackdown, you can order it here. "If I read a book that cost me $40 and I get one good idea, I've gotten one of the greatest bargains of all time." #NiceQuote



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    Although I appreciate the effort of putting a document like this together, I have a few remarks and questions. Let me start with the remarks:

    A smackdown implies a confrontation between competitors. However, not all of these solutions really compete in the actual marketplace.  There is a lot of difference in functionality, positioning and fit for specific use cases. Some of the vendors mentioned are small start-ups operating in a country or region while others are mature software companies with a large installed base operating on a global scale. Some vendors have added value with regard to certain technology platforms like Citrix or VMware only, others have a much broader focus.

    There’s also something wrong with the diagrams and thick boxes. I know these are clearly meant to show the focus of the vendors, but seeing some vendors already claiming victory because they thick more boxes that others proves that people interpret the diagrams as a score. If the vendors already misinterpret the document, how can you expect the target audience to understand?

    A solid piece of research would identify the real players and should suggest preferred solutions. This document leaves every-one in the dark and the final comments show that you leave it up to the individual reader to make a choice.

    Now the questions:

    Do you and/or your co-authors have an independent mind-set; meaning that the organization you work for - or the individuals themselves - do not have a specific preference about any of the UEM solutions listed?

    Did you install and test all the solutions and validate all the “checks” that the vendors provided for the “boxes” mentioned in the overview?

    Who wrote the descriptions about the UEM solutions, you or the vendors?

    In summary, my problem with the document is that it is a lot of information, it claims to be independent research but it gives no professional guidance.

    My suggestion: Test the solutions yourself, have an opinion and be brave enough to communicate it.


    Thanks for your feedback!

    The goal of the Smackdown is to give an unbiased view of the UEM industry, share the strategic questions and give insights which features are delivered by the various UEM solutions. From day one when we started installing, - and analyzing the solutions, questioning the vendors and writing down our findings our goal is to write down an unbiased whitepaper. That is the goal with the current and future Smackdown whitepapers. Some vendors and people in the community doubt if writing down an unbiased whitepaper is possible when you don’t sell, design and implement all the solutions yourself. The question to the vendors we always have are; what are your Unique Solution Point, which features makes your solution unique and importantly the question to community members and vendors: where do you read (incorrect) information which guides you to a certain vendor or solution? We analyze and discuss this feedback which results in added and remove information/features where it makes sense for the readers. So yes the mindset is to be independent and yes we as the UEM Smackdown team do have real-world experience with most (80%) of the solutions analyzed in the UEM Smackdown feature section.

    The features analysis in the whitepaper is a combination of: added by our self and vendor delivered. The features are mostly analyzed and questioned and where needed and possible tested by the team in a lab environment. This results in a feature overview with the goal to be accurate. Sometimes more information to certain features is needed to give our view on why we think a checkmark is valid, this detailed information can’t be part of the whitepaper. So no, not all features are tested in a lab or production environments. It’s a combination of real-world knowledge, vendor feedback and community feedback and lab testing.

    In the UEM Smackdown: “The vendor solution descriptions are provided by the vendors. However, we have at-tempted to remove any marketing fluff wherever possible.” (Direct Copy/Past from the whitepaper chapter5). The goal here is to give a view of the key solutions positioned in the UEM space.

    “What’s your opinion about a vendor/solution!?” That’s indeed a good question which won’t be answered in this whitepaper. We know that this whitepaper doesn’t answers (all) the questions and sometimes adds more questions. We want to give as much professional guidance and information as a free whitepaper can give. We are sure you understand that analyzing solutions, communication with vendors, writing and maintain the whitepaper is very time consuming task (months of work initially). It’s always tough finding the balance in giving as much as information to the public and keep certain aspects in our organization as part of a consulting practice.  Besides of that give an opinion without requirements or evaluation criteria isn’t possible.

    Installing, analyzing, writing, communication with vendors and community member is a challenging and fun learning experience. It’s great to see, hear and feel the impact with vendors and peers in the industry. When you have (detailed) feedback to make the whitepaper paper better let me know