A new video guy means more time, and more time means more phone calls with the vendors in our space. Between Brian and I, we talk to at least five or six vendors each week, probably more. It feels like a bender sometimes--one after another after another, hence the name "Vendor Bender" (for non-US readers, a bender is typically used to reference an all-night drinking experience, like "Did you see Gabe last Friday night? That dude was really on a bender!"). In almost every conversation we have, there's something valuable to us, and that's what this new type of article is about.
Today's vendor is RES Software. RES (it's pronounced R. E. S., I learned, after ten years of saying it wrong) has a pretty strong following in the UK and Europe, but is known in the US primarily because they exhibit at all the normal trade shows. In the last year or so, they've made an effort to grow their footprint here, and more recently they've gone through a bit of a re-branding.
Out with the old
In with the new
RES Workspace Manager (formerly RES PowerFuse)
PowerFuse, their flagship product, has now been renamed to Workspace Manager and has been broken down into three modules: Composition & Personalization, Advanced Administration, and Security and Performance. The retail pricing for these modules is $30, $60, and $90, respectively, with each step up being inclusive of the step(s) before it (so Security and Performance comes with Advanced Administration and Compositoin & Personalization).
The first module, Composition & Personalization, is pretty much the classic PowerFuse-type stuff with the addition of folder synchronization. Generally speaking, it's like the old, free flex profile-like solution on steroids, complete with an admin interface and policy engine to deploy settings, applications, and other user environment customizations to users, groups, devices, etc...
The Advanced Administration module includes all of the Composition & Personalization features, and adds features like remote app integration (SaaS or web apps, but not as integrated as VMware Horizon or Citrix OpenCloud Access), reporting services, and delegation of control to multiple admins.
Finally, the Security and Performance module includes some new features and updates to existing features. This module is pretty interesting, and it's worth taking a look at some of the features:
Dynamic Privileges allows admins to elevate the privilege of a process at launch so that a user can run admin tasks. The example they showed me was the Date & Time control panel applet. Normally, a user must have admin rights to change the date and time. Using Dynamic Privileges, admins can pre-authorize users to run applications by publishing an elevated shortcut to the app. This feature also can work in reverse, in effect removing specific privileges from users that are already local administrators.
User Installed Applications
This isn't a new feature, but it has been updated since the last time I saw it. Before, you basically set a policy that a user could or could not install their own applications. The End. This update adds whitelist/blacklist features and integrates with Dynamic Privileges to allow installation wizards. The whitelist/blacklist can be configured based on product version, installer file name, publisher (to, say, allow all products from Microsoft), and installer checksum.
Website Security is pretty simple and allows you to block specific websites using URL masks or wildcards. There may be some workarounds to this that end users can exploit, especially since it's using some IE integration. For instance, if by some chance they used a browser other than IE, they would be able to go wherever they chose. I look at this as more of a convenience feature that can prevent your users from visiting NickJr.com or PollyPocket.com and FUBAR-ing a terminal server.
Dynamic Desktop Studio
The last interesting bit on the RES front is the addition of the Dynamic Desktop Studio. This product, available for $120/user (inclusive of all the Workspace Manager modules) adds a few more technologies worth going over:
Automation Manager and Service Orchestration
These products introduce a workflow to the settings, services, and applications that can be deployed to users. For instance, a user selects an application from a list of applications that are available to be installed, streamed, or otherwise connected to. Depending on the configuration for the selected application, they are either provisioned that app on the spot, or a notification is sent to the appropriate person for approval to use that application.
User Settings Templates
This feature allows the system to automatically extract the appropriate settings and files from a roaming profile in a sort of automated flex profiles fashion. This, in turn, can be used to build a user template, which can then be applied in a more automated way.
Virtual Desktop Extender (or VDX)
Previously, this was called Workspace Extender, and is a standalone reverse seamless windows product that integrates local applications into a remote desktop window. RES has done a good job with this solution, perfecting the ZOrder problems that have plagued this kind of solution in the past. Local windows now seamlessly integrate with the taskbar and with other remote and local windows, giving the user an uncomplicated experience no matter where the app is coming from.
All of these updates to the existing products will be available February 14, so keep your eyes on the RES Software website for the eval bits. RES is growing and is really trying to make a splash in the US. With so many User Environment Management products out there, it's sure to be a dogfight. The importance of UEM in desktop virtualization is growing, and this type of product can be extremely beneficial in the right use case. Let us know in the comments what you think about these wrap-ups, RES, or whatever else is on your mind.