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VUEM 3.5 Preview

It is already been a long time I wrote about Norskale VUEM. During Citrix Synergy I had the pleasure to see some of the upcoming enhancements in version 3.5 and thought that it was time to take a look again at the product. The people behind Norskale provided me with the 3.5 beta software. In this preview I will do a walk-trough the product and highlight the key features of the product.

Installation




VUEM exists of three component: a SQL database (for storing the configuration), a broker (middleware) and the agent host (running on the Session Host or fat client, where the end-user is actually using his front-end applications).

The actual software installation is divided in three parts. The Infrastructure services which need to be installed on the broker component, the agent host (installed on the Session Host/Fat Client) and the management console which can be installed on any machine. The installation of all components is really straight forwarded, you only need to specify the installation path for the software. VUEM has some requirements. Besides .Net Framework 4 that should be already installed, those are installed automatically when the set-up is run.

Set-up

After the installation of the broker (infrastructure service) some additional task need to be executed. First a SPN need to be created using a command line parameter. When using more than one broker (for high available/fault tolerant scenarios) the command is different than using a single broker. Check the manual carefully for this step.

Secondly the database need to be created. Norskale delivers a utility for creating the database with the infrastructure service. By specifying the SQL server, database name, path for database files the database will be created on the SQL SERVER.

When the database is created the broker need to be configured to connect to the database. Again there is specific executable available for this step. In this utility you provide the information to connect to the SQL server, change the communication ports of the product and some advanced settings.

At the agent host a connection to the broker machine need to be specified. For this part Norskale provides a custom ADM template with all the required settings. At a minimum you need to specify the broker machine name, optionally you can configure the communication ports and when using one of nice features the site the host agent belongs.

UEM Configuration

All configuration of the product is done out of the Administration Console. When you start the console the first time you need to specify the broker machine name and the communication port. In other product the console communicates directly with the database, but apparently VUEM is using the broker as well for the administration activities.

VUEM started as a pure user environment management product, but Norskale decided to evolve more into a performance product. This step can be seen through the whole product. For example this means that the user environment management part has not changed a lot with earlier editions. Norskale offers the most used configurations (applications, printers, drivers, registry entries, ports, INI files, external tasks, folder/files, user DSN and file type associations).

Also the way the configuration the user environment is based on the same procedure.

- Define the UEM resources

- Define Configures Users (groups or users to which a UEM resource should be assigned)

- Create Conditions

- Combine conditions in Rules

- All parts come together in Assignment. Here based on Configured Users one or more UEM resources are assigned combined with the Rules created.

That this has not changes is not a bad thing, it offers similar functionality that comparable products in the marketspace. The only thing that I’m missing is the possibility to use ADM(X) templates within the product.

Where it becomes clear that Norskale has chosen for a different strategy that most UEM product can be seen at the profile component. Instead of developing their own solution they decided to integrate the solutions available from the three big players in this market (Citrix Profile Management, Microsoft USV and VMware UEM. An understandable decision, while these product are offering the required functionality for the majority of the organizations using VUEM.

Performance

As VUEM is evolving in a performance product the big improvements are made within the system optimization part. VUEM already included a nice CPU Management component, but this one is enhanced even more. CPU Spike protection and CPU clamping were already there, but CPU Priority and Affinity is added. Also on CPU spike intelligent CPU optimization is added, where VUEM has self-learning capabilities where “bad” processes are detected and VUEM will react proactive. Norskale has combined all CPU management techniques available, which I did not have seen in any other product.

Within Memory Management VUEM is using a clever technique to optimize memory usage when an application is idle. Probably this will make less issues with application than memory optimizations techniques on running applications.

New in 3.5 is IO management where priority can be set on specific processes, also the learning capabilities for proactive management are available for IO management.

Last component in the system optimization is processes management, where you can set-up a white- or blacklist of executables that a user can or cannot start. It’s nice to see that some remarks of one my earlier reviews are during the time embedded to exclude specific groups for the black-list.

Advanced Settings

What I also like from VUEM is the option to tune the product to your needs in the Advanced Settings component. Here you can specify which part are enabled within the product (for example you can decide not to use process printers for example. Also you can define if the agent should react on at reconnect and which part should be processed during a reconnect. VUEM also includes full configuration on clean-up and revert events.

Transformer

Unique in the UEM market is the component called Transformer, fully integrated into the same administration console. Transformer offers the possibility to lock down a physical desktop into a thin client like machine with a kiosk mode (including optionally offering local applications and a browser).

Summarization

Norskale VUEM has evolved a lot in the past few years. The current infrastructure set-up is more robust and enterprise ready. I like the “different” view of the Norskale team to focus on the performance aspect and integrate with other solutions instead of developing such features on their own. They made big improvements on resource management including several new features in this space in this 3.5 release. Also that they are marketing the product on Citrix Synergy shows that Norskale is making the next step to become an important player in this marketspace.