Vendor Bender: An update on RES Software

A new video guy means more time, and more time means more phone calls with the vendors in our space.

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

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

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.

 

 

 

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Thanks Gabe, nice round up.


As regards of VDX (aka. reverse seamless) that's now been offered and marketed as a stand alone product - I'm a bit curious if anyone (outside RES shops) are using that?


I guess I'm asking whether reverse seamless as often touted by us geeks really makes any broader sense overall, provided that it's a niche and patch-on solution as of now?


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@Kimmo (caveat, I work for RES)


That's the beauty of the VDX solution - It being stand alone, it's useful in any non 100% VDI environment because of heavy/local app usage.


Some would argue that it's just "tidy", others may see it as a way to guarantee their VDI strategy's success.


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Good overview....


We're aggressively testing RES and I have to say it's impressive. VDX works like a charm.. Our only issues are with vWorkspace integration but once sorted you can quickly see how a product like RES becomes the glue/bridge between the physical and virtual world.


@Gabe - You only scratch the surface of features here why not do a UEM geek week? Scense, Appsense, etc?


RE: VDX.... Users who NEED full screen remote desktops HATE (with a passion) minimizing the desktop to access the local OS. - I do too. VDX allows me to unify the desktop which keeps things simpler for the end user. Also it's good in situations where you don't want the user viewing the local desktop other than one or two apps installed locally like Auto Cad.


I think standard presented/seamless apps will still have the larger use case but with VDX you get the best of both worlds.


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@gabe firstly these are good updates for your excellent site and helpful.


As for RES I'd point out a few things. The UIA feature claim is misleading and complete BS. It's nothing more than a permissions layer that let's you apply policy to a user. It has nothing to do with layers like Unidesk/Wanaova or the newer stuff from Appsense. 100% marketing so buyer beware.


Reverse Seamless. I maintain unless you buy into the whole RES ecosystem which is not proven at scale in complex organizations despite their marketing claims, it will never be a standalone solution that means much to our industry. This is a perfect example of a company using a patent to stop the industry moving forward by enabling local and remote apps together. Clearly RES believes they can sell this standalone and perhaps it will take them some time to realize that nobody in their right mind will pay for a standalone add on feature and complexity of adding yet another layer to their desktop infrastructure, vs. just getting it as free feature from the major players or do nothing. Why RES just does not try to sell the patent or license it to the big boys and make some money and gain credibility is beyond me. I guess this is what happens when a clueless european company comes to the states and raises VC money.  They have expectations far greater than reality. So wake up RES, until then I maintain you should be boycotted for holding us all back.


All the other stuff which to be fair I need to take a closer look at, just seems to be a rip off and catching Appsense and people like Privilege Guard. The automation is however interesting, and I am sure good for people who looking for a one stop basic solution that touches many areas.


@Gabe, I think the other point I'd like to make is that UEM solutions vs. the layering solutions. The layering guys will tell the world that the UEM guys are old school etc. I've been thinking about this for a while and come to the conclusion that there is really not much overlap. The layering guys firstly are only relevant on VDI models for the most part, and people like Unidesk require a hypervisor on the client which will hold them back for years IMO. The layering guys are also immature, not proven at scale, and it's unclear if all the apps works or are supported etc. So while I love what they are trying to do, this stuff is some time out for broad adoption and one then has to consider the evolving desktop and ask, will it really happen on large scale? To be honest I am torn and still have not made my mind up here. So that leads me back to today. UEM solutions are the only game in town if you are not doing private image AKA 1-1 desktops and can't make do with XenApp style silos due to the variance in desktop personalities. Cost is something below keep crying about on this site when it comes to desktop virtualization and the current thinking seems to be frankenstein storage solutions like Atlantis that don't really work well today. I ask why the F not simply just add a UEM layer reduce the silo's of XA and number of images of VDI desktops on local storage to get rid of the IOPS problem and reduce cost. If one wants to move beyond 1-1 desktops isn't UEM a requirement? If so why aren't we talking more about it as an industry?


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@Gabe


Thanks for a great write-up and for choosing us as the “leadoff hitter” in your Vendor Bender series.  Looking forward to continued conversations with you and Brian and to briefing you guys shortly on the exciting plans we have for Microsoft Management Summit.


@Daniel


Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for the positive comments.  Glad you’re seeing value from VDX and that you understand how it’s a core piece of technology for managing disparate user sessions in the emerging world of the “hybrid desktop.”


@appdetective


When we added our UIA feature set to PowerFuse v7 in 2005, we called it “Partly Managed Workstations” and decided to rename it to “User Installed Applications” in v8 (circa 2008) to add more clarity on the capability provided.  That was before the whole conversation around layering was front and center and as a result, the term “User Installed Applications” didn’t yet have a specific meaning in our space.  It’s unfortunate that it has become synonymous with users installing their own applications in non-persistent virtual desktop environments.  In the context of UEM, where there’s a layer of management distinct from the app tier, it means exactly what it says – whether a user can or cannot install applications  (in the traditional sense) into an environment based on context, policy, etc.  Given the fact that layering technology is still “years away”, why not use the term to define a capability that customers are actually benefiting from today?


Regarding your comments about reverse seamless and our being a “rip off” and “catching” others, we’d be more than happy to discuss these and any other thoughts with you directly.  However, since we don’t have any contact information for you, feel free to reach out to me or any other RES employee at your convenience.


Jeff Fisher


VP, Business Development


j.fisher@ressoftware.com


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@Jeff Fischer I debate right here on BM.com, so you can contact me right here. I am happy to debate, be proven wrong and will also point out BS as I see it for the greater good of our community who need to know the truth not vendor spin. UIA is totally bogus if all it is a permission layer. Windows has power user to solve for that and we don't call that UIA. I object to you pushing this as all it does is cause mass confusion in the market with many naive people out there who will think this actually solves the problem. I'd love you to try to debate any of the other vendors and defend yourself on this claim. If not then it's just marketing BS.


I'd love you to explain why you think anybody at at meaningful scale is going to pay you a dime for for Reverse Seamless and try to integrate it. You are smoking crack IMO. It makes not sense and is just holding things up, which I will continue to complain about just like I did with the GM from XD who got fired because he tried for years to block it.


I'd also be happy to understand how you are not a rip off technology vs. Appsense you are years ahead of you in terms of market reach and solution. Sure you have automation and have added RS, but outside of that it's all catch up, scale, customers etc.


Happy to be better educated, but until them I call BS on your UIA claim and will continue to slam you on the company holding back Reverse Seamless out of delusional greed.


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@ appdetective


Major LOL @you being not credible


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@justsomeone I love it when somebody who is a vendor or just a fanboy signs up with a new account and talks about credibility without providing a single data point. If you have something to say go ahead and feel free to refute the facts, I'd be more than happy to debate you and be corrected and learn. Until then you are just another clueless follower who believes anything vendors tell you.


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What I’m wondering regarding VDX is when a user needs a Fat client because one or more of his applications cannot run on a hosted desktop, why would you give this user also a second desktop in the datacenter. You already managing that Fat client (apps, virus scanner, patch, deploy, etc.), why managing two desktops for this type of users?


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Hi Digger,


From an architectural point of view it's certainly a valid question to ask. As I see it, customers usually embark on deploying VDI as a strategic initiative, presuming that 90% or more current workstations can be converted without any major hassle. It's however in the last 10% that 90% percent of the challenges are found.


From a practical perspective perhaps one would be better off leaving those remaining problematic (in the sense of migrating VDI) rigs alone, but that can be a political hot potato in some organizations.


So, bottom line. VDX / Reverse Seamless is a nice way of smothing out the borders, making everything look centralized and easily accessible to the user.


Hope this helps,


/Max R. (twitter.com/resguru)


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That CAD user still needs that Fat client at his desk, and despite the fact that it’s only 10% of the population, you need to have a solution in place managing that (patch and deploy the OS, Anti-Virus, the CAD application, applications that need to communicate with that CAD application, files shares, printers, etc.). And this solution is probably the same solution which is used to deploy applications on to the desktops in the datacenter. So why not deploy the other ~5 applications which this user also needs to that Fat client. That saves you a lot of money: 15$ for VDX per user "for a political hot potato ;-)", plus the cost for extra infrastructure and managing a desktop in de datacenter. It definitely has some technical coolness, but I cannot cover it with a decent business case. Just my two cents...


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@Digger, RES has got the local Windows endpoint  covered with other products if need be, but let's stay on the VDX topic:


As you point out in your example there are many ways to split the delivery between the local and remote desktop. If I understand your scenario correctly, then you would perhaps have more ~5 local apps on your fat client to relieve the dependencies to the CAD app.


I suppose this tips the scale away from the necessity of a virtual desktop in the first place, just as you pointed out in your first post? Obviously if there's no remote desktop, there's little use for applying reverse seamless. However if you already have VDI/SBC in place and find you have a gap between what you can deliver remote vs. local, VDX is a cool way to glue that gap together. I hope we can agree on that at least.


As for the pricing, if you indeed have an LME/Ent. business case on your hands and you sincerely wish to utilize the VDX piece, don't discard the idea beforehand. Instead I would urge you to reach out to RES and let us help figure out a way to make it happen.


Best regards,


Max


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