Quest Software releases Provision Networks Virtual Access Suite 5.10

That's "five-point-ten"-the version after 5.9-not "five-point-one-zero.

That's "five-point-ten"—the version after 5.9—not "five-point-one-zero." This is the first release of Provision's product that had direct feedback from Rick Mack, Jeff Pitsch, Michel Roth, and Patrick Rouse. (Who are these guys?) According to Patrick, the four of them had a lot of feedback like “it would make customers very happy if the product did 'X' instead of 'Y'," and now the product has features based on their input.

New features of Version 5.10 include:

Web Portal (called "Web-IT")

  • Web-IT migrated from ASP.NET 1.1 to ASP.NET 2.0
  • Config files migrated from text to XML ( to support future automation)
  • Integration with Juniper Secure Access
  • Smart card support

Clients

  • True multi-monitor support (different resolutions on different screens, monitor awareness, etc.)
  • Updated Linux and Java clients
  • PXE boot Linux client
  • LiveCD Linux client
  • All AppPortal client settings can be stored in a single configuration file
  • Ticketing: Secure tickets will be issued per connection request, obviating the need to embed hashed user credentials inside .pit connection files
  • Java client fully supported via Secure Gateway

Connection Broker & Management Console

  • Support for Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Support for Virtual Iron 4.3.x
  • Dynamic Computer Group auto-expansion (Auto provisioning of new computers)
  • Server provisioning
  • Delete computers that have not been used in a specified number of days
  • Real-time enumeration of running processes on managed computers
  • Termination of running processes on managed computers.
  • Power management of ACPI and Wake-on-LAN capable computers and servers
  • MSI package deployment to computer groups or managed computers and servers
  • Disable/enable computer groups or managed computers during maintenance cycles
  • Unique computer names enforced across desktop groups and datacenters
  • Display realtime license usage
  • Retrieval and display of VM template sizes
  • Wizard-driven managed desktop creation
  • Streamlined SoftGrid / Microsoft App Virtualization integration
  • Option to bypass proxy settings for console to broker communication
  • Verification of sufficient disk space on target storage when provisioning servers or desktops

Task Automation for Power Management (multiple recurrence options or single instance)

  • Power Off
  • Power On
  • Reset
  • Suspend / Resume (for VMware and Hyper-V)
  • Standby / Wakeup (for ACPI & WoL Devices)
Virtual Access Suite 5.9

In terms of product and features, it seems that Provision Networks is doing it "right." They've put a lot of work into their protocol (which for all intents and purposes is now a fully viable alternative to ICA). And as I've written many times in the past, one of the real killer things that Provision does is that you can mix and match single instance VDI hosts in with your same multi-user Terminal Server hosts, both for published desktops and APPLICATIONS. (i.e. Single seamless published apps from single user VDI hosts.) Provision doesn't have any of the same B.S. problems that Citrix has with the XenDesktop / XenApp separate licensing / separate farms just to combine VDI and TS.

Provision's product looks strong in the lab and during testing. Now it's time to see whether they can make headway in the field.

Of course these features are on top of the existing features that were in .

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You did forget to mention the new Experience Optimization Pack that Patrick Rouse mentioned here http://blogs.inside.quest.com/provision/2008/07/24/quest-software-ships-provision-networks-virtual-access-suite-510/.  But as you said the protocol work they've done makes it a true viable alternative to ICA.

I also love all the new "automation" features which let me schedule any admin tasks to be executed "hands-free."
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The GDI Compression/Acceleration additions to RDP are NOT in 5.10, but are slated for 5.11 in October, and should be on display at VMworld.  These were never slated for 5.10 as we saw the prototypes for the first time in June.  This specific extension to RDP should bridge the performance gap that currently exists between RDP and ICA. 


This is different technology than Multimedia Redirection or Flash Redirection, but rather is compression of anything that goes thru the GDI. 


Exciting times....

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I am afraid they have very little "word of mouth" power out there and wouldn't come to mind of CUSTOMERS as viable alternativesto the big , well established names.
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I checked them out during BriForum and I think they have a great product and I was very interested in bringing them in and testing it out until I asked one very important question.  Do you have a migration tool to take me from my Citrix environment to your product?  The answer was no.  :0(  I was very disappointed because I know that I don’t have the time to re-create my entire environment, test it and move it into production.  I think that if they want to pull any customers from Citrix, like my-self, they need to have some sort of a migration tool to help us.

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but Local Text Echo and 2-way audio is included, right?
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Provision Networks has cool product 1 year ago but now they don't support Windows 2008 / Vista and all existing x64 platforms (including 2003).  I think it is time to concentrate on new generation operating system support ("must have" features) before implementing some "nice to have" addons.

NF

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Provision Networks has this habit of laying low for months at a time, only to suddenly emerge with 20-30 new features. I think they're gearing up for yet another huge surprise between now and the end of the year.

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Yes, this exists now in 5.10's Experience Optimization Pack.
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We create the features that:


A.  Give us a competitive advantage


B.  A paying customer is asking for.


The reality is that the percentage of users on X64 TS and Windows Server 2008 is so small that it isn't even 1%,so focusing our time on something that only a handful of customers is asking for, rather than features that appeal to the masses doesn't make sense.


We now have an impetus for supporting X64 (our partnership with Parallels) , on TS and VDI so it will exist (as far as I know) in 5.11.


I'm not sure what you mean about not supporting Vista.  The features may be different right now, but if one wants to use Vista Clients, or Vista for VDI we can do that now.


If you have a specific need, let me know and I'll see what we can do to help you.

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There is enough "word of mouth" to get Guest Citrix Employees on this thread throwing dirt to protect their cash cow.  I have no dirt to throw, as Citrix makes great products, and I have many friends at Citrix, but the facts are that when we ship our RDP Graphics Acceleration, the whole "ICA is the only performant WAN protocol" pitch will be dead. We don't have this today, so you can breathe easy for a few months until it's in a shipping product. :)

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I am curious if i understand this correctly. With the new Provision Networks is like a XenDesktop and XenServer? Or like Spice - Qumranet Solid Ice? The reason, is I am looking for something that streams great multimedia from a datacenter. It can provision new desktops to my users as well. So I hope I am thinking of this GDI is better than ICA speedscreen and RPD.

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I don't know about that.  I'm pretty sure Vista guests in VDI and Vista clients are supported.  I also see integration with Hyper-V; that's Windows Server 2008 isn't it?  2008 TS - not sure what this gives us that we can't have with VAS and 2003 server; besides I'm light years away from dropping 2003 and moving to 2008 server.
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Yes sir!  You understand correctly.  Difference is that Provision Networks supports or as Patrick says "provides integration and automation" for VMware VI3, MS Hyper-V, Virtual Iron, and Parallels containers.
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Quest Software's Virtual Access Suite is analogous to Qumranet Solid ICE or Citrix XenDesktop and our Enhanced RDP Protocol is analogous to Qumranet's SPICE or Citrix' ICA Protocol.  The difference is that ICA and our Enhanced RDP Protocol use less bandwidth across the WAN than RDP and provide better performance that RDP across the WAN, whereas SPICE is a LAN only Protocol, and Solid ICE (as I understand it) reverts to RDP over less than LAN Speed connections.


Protocols like SPICE, RGS, Teradici work great on a LAN Speed Connection, but are (as far as I know) worthless over WAN or lower speed connections.


These should clear things up even more:


http://blogs.inside.quest.com/provision/2008/06/26/vmware-offers-a-vdi-bundle-so-why-would-i-use-provision-networks-connection-broker/


http://blogs.inside.quest.com/provision/2008/07/10/but-xendesktop-has-ica/


 


Patrick Rouse
Microsoft MVP - Terminal Server
Sr. Sales Engineer, Western USA & Canada
Quest Software, Provision Networks Division
Virtual Client Solutions
(619) 994-5507
http://www.provisionnetworks.com


Check out the Official Provision Networks Blog:
http://blogs.inside.quest.com/provision 

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So if this supports Virtual Iron, which is Xen Based, does it support Xen Server?
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No. We support Virtual Iron via "their Virtual Center" Virtualization Manager which (of course) does not support Xen.
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Strike worthless and replace with "less optimal for use".  In all reality, I've never used RGS or Teradici, so I'd love to be shown that these can be used over a WAN low low speed connection.  :)  I've been wrong before, and I'm sure that I will be again.
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I guess we figure that anyone looking at XenServer for their hypervisor is doing so because they are planning to use XenDesktop.  We can manage VMs on XenServer, but don't automate their management interface via SDK like we do with VI & Vmware, so no cloning or deletion of VMs would be possible with our tools.
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Hi Patrick

With the experience optimization pack is possible to use a local attached webcam to make videoconference or bi-directional video?.

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Xen does not include management software. It's just a hypervisor. Companies like Virtual Iron and Citrix build management extensions to improve the manageability of the Xen hypervisor. Management features include the ability to create, delete, clone, power-manage, and 'live-motion' virtual machines. The details of each vendor's implmentation are not tied to the hypervisor itself. For example, Provision Networks can manage VMware, Virtual Iron, Hyper-V, and Parallels. The fact that Virtual Iron is Xen-based does not mean they can also manage citrix's Xen-based platform. But this doesn't mean they won't be able to should the market demand it. 
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I do not believe we do anything for webcams yet, but perhaps when our Universal USB hub is added this will be possible.  I hate to promise something until I've tested it myself.
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But why not support XenServer? The XenServer API is published and enables all the needed features (create, start, stop, etc.).
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It's probably a matter of market share for them.  There's VMware and there's MS that will dominate.  Parrallels is different and cool and Virtual Iron gives them a true and proven Xen alternative for when Citrix drops it goes with Hyper-V.
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Hi Patrick, 

Teradici's PC-over-IP technology works very well at low bandwidths and over long distances. The unique hardware compression provides various advantages and flexibility in long latency, low bandwidth environments - including 3D/CAD and medical image delivery.  Some key PC-over-iP features include: 
* Supports all graphics (directX, OpenGL, WPF, Vista Aero etc) 
* Supports all media types (PC-over-IP is independent of the video codec used e.g. HD WMV, Google, Youtube, Quicktime, any flash etc)
* Supports all USB appliances (200+ end customer trials/deployments and all peripherals work proven compatible)   
* Dynamic compression that is automatically adjusted based on available network resources
* Progressive image transmission that is tuned to the network environment to allow fully loss-less imaging.  This also enables a very responsive desktop in a bandwidth constrained environment.   
* Fair bandwidth sharing across PC-over-IP users on a given network.  This is important to allow users to take advantage of available bandwidth (not all users are driving bandwidth at the same time) 

The two longest *real network* tests we have done were from Houston, TX to London, England (8,000Km) and Vancouver, BC to Montreal, QC (4,000Km) with great reviews from the end customers performing the tests.  

Check out this blog -http://www.teradici.com/blog/?p=20.  Teradici showed a demo of optimizations we are working on to further improve the WAN experience at end customer meetings in New York and London.  We'll publish more info on our WAN performance going forward.   

I look forward to an opportunity to show our technology to you. Marketing bullets cannot replace seeing the technology in action - seeing is believing.  

Stuart Robinson, 
Director of Business Development 
Teradici Corp.
srobinson@teradici.com
604-628-5398
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You may want to take a look at Teradici's PCoIP.  Check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqy0xTgtgbE

This demo is from a workstation delivered using PCoIP over a home router and ethernet switch to a PCoIP desktop portal.

While we do not yet have a video on-line of a HD video running on a HDTV this video shows various 3D which is more challenging than most multi-media.  Notice the response of the OpenGL Glaze soccer ball to the mouse.  Also shows Aero and a Solidworks CAD drawing.  It is hard to show the real graphics performance on youtube, but it gives a feel for the graphics capability and responsiveness.  The compression artifacts are from the Youtube transcoding - you can see for yourself if you will be heading to SIGGRAPH (partner booths see http://www.teradici.com/news/events.html) and NVISION08 this month.  

For full disclosure I am the director of business development at Teradici (srobinson@teradici.com)  
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If we have customers that need XenServer support, then we will build the integration, but we have no plans (that I've heard of)  to do so at this point, as there are enough things out to work on for the next 12 months.
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Stuart, that sounds exciting. I'll look into this.  Thanks.
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Patrick,

Most customers that are looking at VDI >90%, plan to put thin clients out, or when PC dies. So does Provision work on thn clients. And when I say thin clients, I mean low cost ones running on Linux, CE or even thinner OS's. XPE is not an option for most customers because it is impossible to manage and expensive. If the answer is yes, do all features work. The attractive thing about XD is the fact that Manufacturers are building complete support for its features. 

 

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Quest had good relationships with all major Thin Client vendors.
This means that we do indeed supply them with a client and work with
them to embed our client into their Thin Client OS. These, like you
mentioned, are the true Thin Client OSes like Linux, CE or ThinOS for
example. Most features are available in these clients although it
depends on the vendor because they have to implement our client into
their OS.

We support vendors like HP, Wyse, ChipPC etc. Check out this post for more info: http://blogs.inside.quest.com/provision/2008/07/08/provision-networks-and-thin-client-support/

I think the most important part is that we work with every vendor that wants to integrate our client. 

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How does this compare with Citrix price-wise??
For say 100 users of the "ICA" type solution??

Or alternatively comparison of the per-user costs??

itrix is very expensive the first year, after that they are more reasonable, though one still has to go to a 3rd party to get reasonable support.

The migration would be helpful, I'm sure, but isn't it generally better to start "clean"??

Why would small businesses buy this instead of Citrix??

Is there a Win98 client?? We have lots of old white boxes that can't even run Linux and are slow with even Win98.

The cool people with lots of money to spend who are commenting above may be able to buy whatever they want, but ordinary people like me need to know!! Cheaper?? Cost/benefit?? SMB benefits?? Quality of support?? Etc. etc. 

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If Provision can just support Sunray thin clients with the AppPortal developed in JAVA with all features of that of Windows it will be the killer combination.  The problem currently is that they do support Sunray but very limited.  The Chippc thin clients is also a very good option problem though that they do not support the PN client as yet and are "considering" this in their CE 6 options.  Waiting in anticipation of a proper Sunray option though.
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A Java AppPortal Client is in development.


One bit of clarification to Michel's post, is that Standard edition does NOT add application publishing & load balancing, but rather adds management features like User Profile Management, Universal Printer Driver (client, session and remote relay), Application & Host Access Control, Logon Scripting, File & Registry Redirection, ADM Templates (w/o using GPO), Add/delete registry keys/entries...


Only Enterprise Edition and Desktop Services edition offer application publishing, web interface, secure gateway... and Enterprise edition adds load balancing and Terminal Services Support + VDI Connection Brokering in addition to the Standard Edition Features. Standard Edition is also referred to as Power Tools for Terminal Services, and can be installed on TS or Citrix, as neither offer these features.


Another thin client option is our Linux PXE Boot client, which can turn any PC into a thin client (for free).

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Thanks Michel, that's a great demonstration.  Just to be clear, this is a technology preview, not something that is shipping today.  It is my understanding that this is something that will be available when 5.11 ships later this year, according to the roadmap that I have seen.
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Hi guys

 Really interesting thread, thanks for all the info. Was wondering - what's the score on your deal with Parallels. Is it for a seamless integration between your technologies. Read about it in an announcement somewhere but the details weren't all that clear and don't know all that much about it as a technology. had a look a some of Parallels stuff and they're making lots of noises about the density of desktops they can get on a server, and also application deployment. Can you guys shed any insider light on this....?

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As far as I know the anouncement of the partnership between Parallels and Quest is the same as what we have with Virtual Iron, i.e. we can each sell eachothers products as a bundle SKU and Parallels may not do this with any other connection broker vendor.  The features of Provision Networks Virtual Access Suite 5.10 were complete when we announced the partnership, so you won't see Virtuozzo integration in the Provision Management Console and connection broker until 5.11.  I know there is development of this integration happening now, but until I have seen  it, it would only be speculation as to the feature set.  I would "imagine" that we'd deo what we do with other hypervisors, i.e. automation of cloning/deletion + power management of VMs (Virtuozzo Containers).


I'll write a blog post as soon as I have the exact details. 

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Hey Paul

Thanks again for the info, I'll keep an eye out for your blog then. The Parallels offering looks really interesting/promising - albeit from what they themselves say about it - but I'm always a bit wary of something that makes big promises, sounds great etc, but where its from someone you don't hear much about elsewhere. I know a bit about them on the Mac side, but this is pretty different to what they do there by the looks of things. Do you have any view on whether Parallels VDI is going to be a serious contender in the market - it's distinct, that's for sure, but is it really going to be a competitor to the bigger boys (I appreciate that might be a tricky question for you to answer ; )

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The Parallels Virtuozzo product is quite different than hardware hypervisors, and Paralles makes one of those too.  I consider Parallels VDI offering as Terminal Services with full isolation, meaning each session/container has its own hostname, file system, registry, IP address... so one can install different software in each container (if necessary).


Where it differs drastically is that the containers/VMs run Server 2003 X64 Edition, instead of XP Pro or Vista and acheives very high scalability, as each container shares the underlying OS binaries and memory.  This means that each container uses significantly less disk space and memory than a traditional VM, so one might be able to get >100 containers per server.

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We have used Provision's Enterprise software for almost 3 years, I have never experienced a more tuned in, and customer friendly company, or set of professional individuals that are committed to providing real world solutions for real world WTS problems. They actually listen to their customers and add the feature requests into the software. 


We have roughly 550 thin clients, and 200 FAT's, laptops and PC's. I personally would like to get rid of all FAT's, they are too much hassle.


Like all software it has it's pro's and con's and Provision in my experience has more Pro's.


Keep up the good work.


Gary Parkinson

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Patrick, We try to use Provision Networks VDI solution to provide a desktop to our mobile werkers, unfortunately we came a few seroius security issues that unable us to continue with this product, the main issue is:  In 5.10 the PIT file got encrypted. It is however still possible to save the PIT file to any location copy it,  and use it time and time again. Using this PIT brings up a RDP connection to the machine. The broker is totally out of the picture when this happens. After 30 seconds the password in the PIT file expires but the PIT file can still be used after that to get a direct connection to that machine. do you have an idee how to solve or work around this problem? and what means the integration with Juniper ssl vpn solution in wat way wil it make VDI an safer product? 
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Hello gary, do you also use is to enable remote users?
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Like the sound of all this multimedia extensions and improvements over WAN access, we are here in NZ where the WAN bandwidth is rather random.


 However we'd be looking at using it as a competitor to Citrix and afaik you don't include a reporting function ALA Resource Manager / Edgesight.  What do you guys use for this functionality or is this on the roadmap.


Thanks


Mark

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I'm looking at our roadmap right now and integration with Quest Foglight is scheduled for 2H09. 


Foglight is our enterprise application and service managment console that does monitoring and root cause analysis for just about everything one can imagine.  It's a modular product has cartridges for different applicatione, i.e. Virtual Center, SQL Server, Oracle, Java, .Net...


In other words, this is the mother of all monitoring products.  We will be adding a Foglight cartridge (module) specific to Provision Networks.


For those of you not familiar with this product, an overview is here:


http://www.quest.com/application-and-service-management-technology/vmware.aspx


http://www.quest.com/application-and-service-management-technology/


http://www.quest.com/application-and-service-management-capabilities/

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