Locate UX with Liquidware Stratusphere – Part two Let’s see how this thing works

In the previous post, we discussed the why in getting User Experience insights, and where to use Stratusphere UX to fulfill this.

In this part, I am going more into the what and how part by taking Stratusphere UX for a spin. We will start with the what by doing a little architecture as a starting point.

What is needed?

The architecture of Stratusphere (FIT/UX included) has four components: Stratusphere Hub Appliance, Stratusphere Database Appliance, Stratusphere Collector Appliance, and Connector ID (CID) Key. In short, the components do the following:

    • Stratusphere Hub (required), a pre-configured virtual appliance that provides the central policy management, policy distribution, data collection, reporting and alerting system for Stratusphere, as well as the user, interface for the Stratusphere user.
    • Stratusphere database (required), co-installed on the Hub or separate preconfigured virtual appliance. This component provides the central data storage for the Stratusphere product line. The separated appliance is needed when having a large number of desktop deployments (500+ desktops, see the sizing guide for details).
    • Statusphere Collector appliance, again co-installed on the Hub for small environments or a separated preconfigured virtual appliance that provides the ability to collect CID Key data and network monitoring data (in small environments both forms of data) for Stratusphere.
  • Desktop agent, or the Connector ID Keys aka CID. Windows, MacOS and Linux Distribution in-guest agent for getting those in-guest insights about the system, applications, and user activities. The CID’s are managed by the Hub and can be installed manually, via software distribution mechanisms or integrated into the master image for virtual desktops.

Depending on the to-investigate environment the hub, database, and collector can be shared in one appliance or can be separated. Use the calculator to determine what sizing and infrastructure architecture is appropriate for your use case. The calculator can be found at http://www.liquidware.com/products/stratusphere-sizing-guide.

The following architecture diagram shows the components interacting (as taken from http://www.liquidware.com/content/pdf/documents/support/Liquidware-Stratusphere-Architecture-Overview.pdf)

Stratusphere Architecture

Set the VDI profile for your assessment aka environment

Stratusphere will self learn and adapt the values to the assessed environment over time. However, the VDI profile is highly customizable to your needs. You can set everything according to what you (or your customer) find important for a successful UX. Start thinking about these figures when starting to define the use cases to be investigating. Speak to key users and application owners to find what is important for the user community and what values/metrics the application are dependent on. Try to find some common ground. If you put the weight of CPU higher than the weight of memory, and the applications are memory resource intensive you will have false information in your report. At that time you can work on a, or some, profile that you would wish to report on.

If this information beforehand is not clear (and this happens a lot), start with the defaults and take some more time to analyze the data.

When all is running: go to Stratusphere UX part, Diagnostics, and VDI UX Profile. You will see a screen similar to this one.

VDI UX Profile

So, now we have some information about what. Let’s see about the how part and take it for a spin.

On to the Bat..erm..Demo Lab

We have a Horizon Enterprise 7.5 demo lab environment, with Instant Clone and full clone Windows 10 desktop pools. And UEM, NSX, among others. I will be deploying the Stratusphere virtual appliance here. Beforehand, use the Liquidware Statusphere sizing calculator (http://www.liquidware.com/products/stratusphere-sizing-guide) to size the appliances for the environment. This is a demo lab so I won’t require a lot.

Use the following table for the OVF deployment links:

Stratusphere Hub Appliance:

http://download.liquidwarelabs.com/6.0.1/stratusphere_hub.ovf

Stratusphere Database Appliance*:

http://download.liquidwarelabs.com/6.0.1/stratusphere_database.ovf

Stratusphere Collector Appliance*:

http://download.liquidwarelabs.com/6.0.1/stratusphere_collector.ovf

After the ovf deployment checks the configuration, and start the appliance to boot up and do all the initial configurations. When the console shows, do the ALT-F2 combination.

Login with ssconsole and sspassword. From the menu, set the network configuration accordantly, set the FQDN, callback (fqdn preferable) and so on. Write configuration to finish the configuration.

Stratusphere Console

And with this, the appliance is good to go. Point your browser to the address shown (or set, as I was a bit fast with the capture of above image) and login with the default ssadmin and sspassword combination and you are ready to rock. I have connected to vCenter and Active Directory for the virtual machine and user side setup.

Add clients to the environment

For Statusphere to collect some data we should add some clients and components to the environment. Next, to the valuable client information, we can also add a directory and virtual infrastructure data. Do this as well if you are investigating virtual desktop UX. Add clients by downloading and installing the CID. And let Stratusphere collect some data. For our Full Clone desktops, I have used the groups’ policy standard which I have saved to a location that can be accessed via the network (a share). Use the ADMX template that can be downloaded here also.

Create a computer policy with this template. Set the Hub Address to enabled and fill in the FQDN/IP (do this for 32 and 64-bit if you have both.  And set the software settings installation package part pointing to the share.

For our instant clone desktop pools, I just installed the Windows version manually in the master image. When sealing the template run install-location\Liquidware Labs\Connector ID\admin scripts\ VMwareView_MasterImagePrep.bat. This stops the services and sets to manual. After seal create snapshot and push this image to the pool. In the post, customization run the post worker script or something else that sets the Liquidware services to auto and starts them (in order connector, UI and update). This will create a unique computer ID so we will have.

As you see in the above list, our demo environment currently contains one full clone, the base image, and three instant clone desktops.

Collect information and assess those insights

Allow some time for these products to collect and interpret the data. For Stratusphere and all similar, I advise for a minimum of a business cycle. On average a business cycle is 4 weeks or a month. The bare minimum is a few hours to two weeks. However, these results are with a little ‘it depends’. After a few hours, the first data will be there for the operators to take a look at. For example, you can use this dataset to check if the expected desktops are checking in. For assessing and analysing the data, use more time. The more measurements the more reliable the data is. Preferably plan for the period where mission or business critical processes are happening.

If you have a clear understanding, you can use the data to report on. And in a later phase, you can also integrate with systems management products or IT help desk systems via SNMP and RSS feeds.

You can find your UX profile back at for example the UX score. The UX score is a composite metric of resource consumption, and the ability to identify resource constraint limits and sort them using a weighted rating system of – Good, Fair, Poor (or A+, A, A-, B+, B-, C as labeled) depending on the UX score/profile. When your UX profile has a good match, your VDI’s will have good labels. Easy to spot.

What’s Next?

Keep using Stratusphere UX to fully enable your organization in their digital workspace management with performance monitoring. Use Stratusphere when doing platform (re-)design, lifecycle management, and optimization. Check what impact security changes have on the UX of your users desktops, before you implement these changes. Integrate with your helpdesk system and other operational management solutions. And in many other areas.

The Living Dead have returned from VMworld Barcelona

Hola! Time for a small VMworld recap. And what did we get this time?
A nice city—Check!
A conference —Check!
A community – Check!
A great team – Check!
A sh*t load of information – Check!

We are getting big, better and biggest with close to 12000 attendees and 90 nationalities. And, the 10th VMworld Europe anniversary. Since 2012 visiting the beautiful city of Barcelona. Barcelona in November. Not so hot, but still in a familiar place.

Again this was kind of an experience. And that Fira Gran Via place. Yeah.. well…I have seen that thing for quite some years now. If there is a vote for some other location, I don’t mind a different venue. But enough for now! Let’s get the recap party started.

Continue reading The Living Dead have returned from VMworld Barcelona

Welcome to bloggers paradise… VMworld Europe Starts in 3..2..

VMworld Europe is on the Horizon (yes, pun intended). VMworld EMEA or VMworld Europe is around the corner with just a few hours in the way. As we are all arriving, just to clarify for the ones that are left behind, VMworld Europe is taking place from 5 until 8 November at the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona (and use the right Fira). A great opportunity to meet your fellow VMware peers at a conference. Go on and find the great community at the Fira venue. And probably there will be meat as well. Or other tapas as VMworld Europe hits Barcelona again. Like to past few years. Barcelona is great, but IMHO >5 years Fira is enough. But enough with that.

This year I will be part of VMworld with a bloggers pass. I will try and keep up with some blogs around the course of VMworld. Same procedure as last time. Anyway, we again can enjoy the wonderful atmosphere of a VMworld. From within the city and beyond. Try and catch me at the bloggers’ space, in the community area, solution exchange or flying around. Just look for a VMworld bag walking around….or an ITQ branded polo, cap or jacket. I will not be hard to find. I have arrived this Sunday, and will be leaving on Thursday… so enough activities can be planned. Of course enough moments for meetings and talks. Hit me up at Twitter (@Pheldoorn), Instagram (@Paikke) or check the contact page of this blog if you want to get in touch at VMworld.

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Is there any UX insight out there? Gain Visibility with Liquidware Stratusphere UX – Part One

This is the first blog post of a series into the Liquidware products after joining the Liquidware Tech Insiders program and have Liquidware be a blog partner. A little disclaimer though, opinion(s) expressed on this blog are mine.

I want to take you on a walkthrough for one of the critical components of a digital workspace, User Experience. In this series I will discuss the why’s and whats (this part), and the how Liquidware Stratusphere UX can be of great help by showing you how the product works and how to look for influences on UX versus the configuration and security of the digital workspace, and to measure this (the following parts). Now let’s start with some basic define the definition.

Why and what is that User eXperience (UX)?

UX, or better User eXperience, is the most important part for the success factor of a digital workspace environment. And to make things more complicated, the biggest part is managing human perception and expectations. If there is a penalty that worsens UX experience when not expected, its pick-axes, torches and you got a revolt at your hands. Farewell productivity. End-users expect the same user experience than that of working directly on the high-end device (like the ones they buy for personal use), the one-to-one mapping or fast interaction and performance. Digital workspace UX from the user perspective is very simple, the end users need their digital workspace and applications look super duper awesome and respond in warp speed fashion while offering the highest hyper full-very high-K definition quality for graphics and audio…period. For businesses that brings some complications. Mostly the offset between needed investments for that superduper digital workspace and available budget. And something to make this measurable, so a) we know the KPI business can steer to/upon and B) know where possible bottlenecks occur or will occur in the near future. And maybe C) to prove that there is nothing wrong and running within parameters, but this is again a lot in managing human perception.

Continue reading Is there any UX insight out there? Gain Visibility with Liquidware Stratusphere UX – Part One

PowerCLI Collection: PowerNSX DFW Synchronization Script

At several EUC projects we have a testing Workspace ONE environment(s) where desktop image and application packaging takes place, and a production Workspace ONE environment where only tested and approved items from the test are released. The environments are separated into vCenter/NSX managers. Actually, the production ones are even more separated in management and two or more desktop pods. All with their own NSX managers, and with there own management and rules. There is a need for a way to synchronize the approved NSX DFW rule set from testing to production, and between the production pods, without too much effort or human interference. We couldn’t find a cmdlet that does this all, so I wrote up the following script to synchronize the NSX configuration between pods: PowerNSX DFW Synchronization Script. We also have the same need for other projects, and I think it will benefit the next iteration of the NSXHorizonJumpstart I was working on earlier. You can go and grab the first version of the PowerNSX DFW synchronization script at https://github.com/Paikke/NsxSynchronization. In the remainder of this blog post, I will explain some further this script.

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I will be speaking at NLVMUG UserCon 2018: Secure Desktop – A Horizon with NSX Jumpstart

Almost a month from now, but I’m very proud and honored to be on the agenda at this years NLVMUG UserCon on March 20th with a Horizon and NSX Secure Desktop session. Go and say hi to me in Dexter 17 – 18 at 10:20.
While you will be at the NLVMUG, also take a peek at the awesome speaker’s list or the agenda, for some other speakers and their awesome sessions. Though choices ;). The keynotes will be done by no other than Pat Gelsinger –Pat Gelsinger, CEO VMware for the Opening keynote, and Joshua McKenty –Vice President, Global Ecosystem Engineering, Pivotal will do the afternoon keynote.

This year there is a pre-con day on March the 19th. Details for the pre-con can be found over here.  The pre-con is also pretty packed with a Hackathon (I can only say I had a very good experience at the VMworld Hackathon), VCDX Workshop, and multiple R&D tracks.

NLVMUG UserCon 2018

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I will be speaking at Transform!: Secure Desktop – A Horizon with NSX Jumpstart

On Tuesday 21st of November ITQ will host her Digital Transformation Event: Transform! This jam-packed event will have several ITQ, VMware, Pivotal and IBM speakers covering a range of topics such as End User Computing (EUC), (Cloud Native) Development, Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC), Hybrid Cloud and IT Transformation Services (ITTS). For more details on the awesome sessions, take a peek at the Transform! agenda.

There is still room so register here. Hope to see you there!

And now for a shameless plug of my own session.

Continue reading I will be speaking at Transform!: Secure Desktop – A Horizon with NSX Jumpstart

UAG Files: Not using the right proxy pattern breaks HTML view-client

While working at a Workspace ONE project we were implementing a Unified Access Gateways (UAG) for untrusted connections to reach the workspace. Untrusted connections could be Wifi or the big bad interweb. They have two routes, all users reaching the Workspace aka Identity Manager (vIDM Proxy and vIDM) for authentication and choosing the entitlements and the second route after selecting a desktop route and using a tunneled UAG to connect to the Horizon desktop resources. With the latter the user has the option to select the Horizon Client or the browser, both are allowed and should reach the desktop. Do we hear a should? Yes, should. The Horizon client is connecting to the desktop, so an okay here. When using the HTML Web client we were greeted with a 404 error. Hey, wait?!?

Next steps get out the violin and start investigating.

Sherlock investigate UAG

Continue reading UAG Files: Not using the right proxy pattern breaks HTML view-client

PSC Load Balancing with NSX

In this blog post, I want to describe the manual steps on how to deploy and configure an NSX load balancer for the Platform Service Controllers (PSC). Hey wait, weren’t you doing PowerNSX automation stuff before? Yes and I still mean to do so. But with automation comes checking if the procedure actually works before attempting to automate that procedure. Garbage in is a lot of garbage out with automation….

Implementing NSX for desktop, whether for micro-segmentation or Load Balancing, takes time and effort to design and implement, that’s why I started the HorizonJumpstart to help with a starting point and hopefully some guidance. This post is about the Load Balancing part and the start-up of some additions to NSXHorizonJumpstart to include NSX Edge Gateway Load Balancers.

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Migrating Horizon Databases

We have several components in a Horizon environment that utilize databases, and there are also quite a few situations when those use external databases. With external databases, it is often that organizations are using Microsoft SQL Server databases. And with external databases, like any others btw, requirements might change or lifecycle management of MSSQL or underlying Windows requires the databases to be migrated. And with that…. what better way to write this all down in a post.

Before starting your migration be sure to do an Interoperability check with your to be solution. Horizon, or other VMware products for that fact, versions don’t always have the newest support from other vendors. This takes some testing and certifications and might take a while. But after all is checked, and also with other components that might consume these, we will start the migration.

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