Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Personalizing Desktop aka Shell Settings

Talking about Desktop Settings within AppSense DesktopNow always leads to a long drawn out debate on what to do with these.

There are several options for these and each option has pro's and con's. This post will describe what desktop settings are, the options available as well as the pro's and con's of each and I'll finish with a conclusion on what I think is the best option is.

Desktop Settings are typically Windows Shell settings most of which directly impact the look and feel of the users desktop. Most often customers are more worried about applications and getting application Personalization right assuming the desktop will sort itself out but then will be haunted by that decision because the very first thing a user notices before they've even launched Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes or Internet Explorer is that their wallpaper of their family pet or the children is missing and that their Windows taskbar has reset itself to the default icons. For this reason is it really important to spend some time and effort thinking about desktop settings before you start worrying about applications. 

As I described in the introduction there are several options for managing Desktop Settings, including but not limited to:
  • Using the Desktop Settings menu within Personalization Server
  • Using Registry Hiving and Folder Copy actions within Environment Manager Policy
  • Using a standalone tool - EMP_P2V
  • A hybrid approach

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Stop If Fails

Stop if Fails is one of the most mis-used and mis-understood items within an AppSense Environment Manager Configuration.

Stop if fails has absolutely nothing to do with actions or conditions immediately dependent on another action or condition. It does however have everything to do with the child (or sub) nodes that are dependent on a specific node.

Consider the following configuration snippet:


Stop if fails in enabled on the re-usable condition which is applied to the U1.1_User Profile node. This effectively means that the sub nodes U1.1.1_Create User Folders and U1.1.2_ProfileChange will not run unless the re-usable condition has been met.

Stop if fails has no impact on the actions that are dependent on the initial action or condition. These will run or not depending on whether the initial action or condition fails or succeeds.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Load Balancing AppSense IIS Servers


Expanding on some of my previous posts relating to AppSense Infrastructure this post is going to talk about leveraging load balancing to make the AppSense IIS servers resilient.

So to start let me clarify that AppSense's Support Organisation will support an AppSense environment in a load balanced configuration however if they deem the problem to be caused by the load balancing technology used they will ask you to re-create the problem bypassing the load balancer. This is in line with the support stance that majority of software organisations will take.

So to start you will need to consider the following factors:
  • Windows Authentication or Anonymous access to the Management and Personalization Servers.
  • Do you need to configure the product through the load balanced VIP?
If the answer to the these questions are Windows Authentication and/or Yes you will need to create a service account as well as Service Principal Names (SPN.) To summarise a SPN is basically a way of mapping a service to a username.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

AppSense Application Manager instead of antivirus... I think not.

I've had a number of people ask me over the past few weeks whether or not I would replace my Antivirus product with AppSense Application Manager. My answer has always been no, AppSense Application Manager will compliment your Antivirus product but should not replace it.

Heres are a few reasons why I think this:

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Building an AppSense Application Manager whitelist configuration

A number of people have asked me about building an AppSense Application Manager whitelist configuration where they can control, to an extremely granular level, what applications a user can and cannot run. 

This post will describe the steps required to build a configuration which can achieve this. Please ensure you read the entire document before attempting to configure Application Manager Whitelisting.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Deploying AppSense DesktopNow within a Standard Desktop or Server Image

Citrix Provisioning Server (PVS) has changed the way Citrix Administrators deploy and manage their servers and desktops. Administrators can now build a single image and very easily deploy that to several hundred servers in no time but what does this mean for AppSense Administrators?

Note: Ensure you understand the AppSense DesktopNow components and how they work by reading my post on the components of DesktopNow before reading this post.

My assumption is that you're an AppSense Administrator and have come here because your organisation is in the process of deploying XenApp or XenDesktop using Citrix Provisioning Server and you're looking for tips and tricks that you need to take into account when building your standard images.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Detailed overview of AppSense DesktopNow Components

Several of my posts talk about various components within the AppSense DesktopNow Suite. In the interest of not having to re-type them each time this post will serve as a high level overview on the DesktopNow suite.

This post does go into a little more detail than most would need but it should serve as a good basis to pull all other posts together.

Monday, 25 March 2013

The Questions not answered in Product Guides...

The answers to the questions that are never answered in AppSense Product Guides.

Now before you read this post is important to note that the opinions shared are my own and are not necessarily shared by AppSense nor its Professional Services team.

Should I scale my servers up or out? 

The answer to this as with most AppSense related questions is "It depends." The reason why the answer is this is purely because it depends on what your initial server specs are. If your servers have a single CPU, 1 GB RAM and a single 1 Gbps network interface cards the scaling up is probably a good idea. If your servers have 4 Quad core CPU's, 64 GB RAM and dual 10 Gbps network interface you will get more out of scaling out. 

I'd typically recommend no more than 8 CPU cores, 8 GB RAM and dual 1 Gbps network interface cards (10 Gbps if the option is available.) Any more cores than this and you'll most likely be wasting money. You can also drop the RAM down to 4 GB if RAM is an issue. 

AppSense Servers are typically CPU and Network constrained so make sure you monitor these closely and when they're stating to get to the 70% utilized i'd suggest adding an extra server. 


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Using AppSense Application Manager to enforce Device Based License Control

Before I start, I know Microsoft VDA licensing makes this a very complex topic so I'm not going to go into that right now and will instead focus on traditional implementation of AppSense Application Manager for Device Based License control.

To start with I will summarise my understanding is that certain Microsoft (and other vendors) enforce per-device licensing restrictions. This means that when my company purchases a copy of an application for use on my computer it is licensed to that computer and that computer only. Take for instance my company purchases Microsoft Office for my computer I cannot simply walk over to Jenny's computer in the corner and use Microsoft Office because that device is not licensed for Microsoft Office.

Now historically speaking desktops were fairly straightforward, if a user required an application they would call their service desk, log a support call, procurement would follow and IT would then deploy the software to the end point. Then came Remote Desktop Services and XenApp which really confused the matter. Administrators had to install applications into this environment for their users to work productively but they then had to license any device which could access the environment. In most instances this would require a license for every device within the corporate network. Perhaps only 10% of your workforce need a specific application. It unreasonable to think a company would purchase 1,000 licenses when only 100 people needed the application. So IT organisations started purchasing physical desktops for these people as the cost of 100 desktops could often be roughly the same as 900 un-needed licenses.

Enter AppSense Application Manager...


Thursday, 7 February 2013

Environment Manager Personalization Server Microsoft Office Configurations

Over the past few weeks I've been asked by a number of people to share my Personalization Server Application Configurations to speed up deployment particularly into Pilot or PoC environments. In this blog post I will share my configurations for the following products:
  • Microsoft Office 2003
  • Microsoft Office 2007
  • Microsoft Office 2010
  • Microsoft Office 2013
Now before I share anything I will say that these configurations come with no warranty and I strongly advise you test these in a non production environment to ensure they satisfy your requirements. In addition, I would highly recommend that you read my post about Global Inclusions and Exclusions before you even open these configurations.


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Using AppSense Environment Manager to migrate user profile settings…


Using AppSense Environment Manager to migrate user profile settings…

So you have an existing Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 deployment and your users have happily (or not as the case may be) been working away for years with their old roaming profiles and you are looking to give them a shiny new Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008R2 platform to work on. The first problem you are going to have is that the users have built up their profiles for years and years and in some cases… cannot do their jobs without their Microsoft Outlook nicknames or their Internet Explorer favorites.

This post is going to show you a few ways you could leverage AppSense Environment Manager to get the settings from their existing machines onto their new machines. For simplicity sake I am going to assume that no AppSense Environment Manager agents have been deployed to the legacy estate but if it is possible having the Environment Manager Agent on the source platform will make migration a LOT easier.

So first lets talk about your main options:

Thursday, 24 January 2013

AppSense Personalization Server Best Practices

I'm often asked to provide customers, partners and employees alike with a list of best practices that should be followed when implemented AppSense Personalization Server.

Here are my best practices: