Liquidware Labs Stratusphere 4.6 is out

Liquidware Labs is releasing their latest version 4.6 today.  This signals a big shift in both the Liquidware Labs diagnostic module and User Experience modules.  Liquidware Labs is going to be shedding the desktop agent or ConnectorID key, which will allow for agent-less data gathering on end point devices.  They are accomplishing this via a “centralized network loadable module”, that is a Microsoft Group Policy setting.  Stratusphere will now run silently on designated desktops and quietly gather data for later analysis.  Organizations will now have a way to non-intrusively do assessment/discovery engagements.

Liquidware Labs is also rolling out a new “user experience calibration” feature.  This new feature is going to be called, “Stratusphere UX Calibration”.  This feature now allows admins to customize performance and usage thresholds and then use the calibration feature to set specific metrics for known good user experience.  If a user falls below the calibrated metric values, the proper support teams are automatically notified of the negative trend that is impacting users.  This moves troubleshooting to a more proactive manner instead of reactive, thereby keeping the typical metric businesses usually set and that is, “equal to or greater user experience as compared to physical desktops”.

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Liquidware Labs Stratusphere v4.6 Sheds Desktop Agent while Beefing up Assessments and Service Assurance for Citrix XenDesktop and VMware ViewNew agentless design gathers data without the need to install software on desktops

Alpharetta, Ga – May 24, 2010 ‐ Liquidware Labs, the leader in Assessment, Migration, and User Experience Management for next generation desktops, today announced the availability of Stratusphere v4.6 with a new agent‐less desktop monitoring design, a user experience calibration feature, and a oneclick
proof‐of‐concept (POC) validation report for planning and implementing next generation desktops such as Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View.

Stratusphere provides organizations moving to VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) decision support data to develop a clear path forward. Stratusphere Fit is first used to perform a full assessment on an organization’s desktop infrastructure. The solution gathers usage data and metrics at all integral levels–from the desktop, to the network, to the datacenter, to the SAN. Stratusphere UX (User Experience) then goes to work immediately after a migration by using similar metrics to ensure that an optimum desktop experience is being delivered to users. The solution has built‐in alert mechanisms to inform
appropriate teams when performance of any integral part of the infrastructure falls below a specified threshold.

Stratusphere v4.6 now gathers metrics from desktops with a unique agent‐less approach through a centralized network loadable module. This feature makes assessments non‐obtrusive and easier than ever to perform. To get started with an assessment, the administrator simply applies the Stratusphere module to selected user(s) through a straight‐forward Microsoft Group Policy Setting. Stratusphere then runs silently on the chosen desktops, quietly gathering usage data and performance metrics for later reporting and trending analysis. The solution is automatically accessed over the network without the need to install software on any client PC or virtual desktop. The Stratusphere module can be set to dissolve after a specific date or can easily be turned off by deleting the Group Policy setting. A standalone agent remains available to support laptop and mobile users.

A new user experience baseline feature named Stratusphere UX Calibration™ has also been added in v4.6. Once Stratusphere UX gathers initial usage and infrastructure metrics, the solution reports the status of the user experience as good, fair, or poor based on Stratusphere’s analysis of pre‐populated thresholds. The administrator can then customize these thresholds if desired and can then use the calibration feature to set metrics of a known good user experience with a single click. If the user experience falls below the calibrated values, proper support teams can be automatically notified before negative trends impact users.

Validations for Citrix XenDesktop/VMware View Proof of Concept Projects Many organizations are exploring test cases of VDI and have implemented POCs in an attempt to confirm a selected desktop’s effectiveness for performance and user efficiency. Stratusphere v4.6 now includes a one‐click proof of concept validation report to provide clear answers for these POCs. To use this feature, an integrator or customer would simply run Stratusphere Fit before installing the new Citrix XenDesktop, VMware View, or Windows and then run Stratusphere UX after the installation. After a short validation monitoring period to ensure accurate results, the administrator can use the simple oneclick feature to generate an in‐depth before‐and‐after report of performance increase or decrease at all integral levels – from the desktop, to the network, to application servers, to the SAN.

“Our new agent‐less desktop design makes assessments easier to perform than ever before while the robust features we’ve added in Stratusphere v4.6 provide detailed metrics at all integral levels of an organization’s desktop infrastructure ‐ giving integrators clear solutions to recommend and customers a clear path forward for implementing VDI,” said David Bieneman, CEO and founder of Liquidware Labs.

Other notable new features include numerous report additions and a Desktop 360 diagnostics view in Stratusphere UX which offers administrators the ability to see all key data on machine/network/ host/SAN on a single pane of glass.

About Liquidware Labs
Liquidware Labs™ (LWL) is the leader in Assessment and User Experience Management for next generation desktops including VMware View, Citrix XenDesktop, and Microsoft Windows 7. The company’s Stratusphere™ and ProfileUnity™ solutions have been described by analysts as the industry’s first “On‐Ramp to VDI” by providing complete methodology and software that enable organizations to cost‐effectively plan, migrate, and manage their next generation desktop infrastructure with best practices in mind. LWL’s comprehensive solutions provide Assessment, Personalization Management, User Configuration, and Service Level Assurance. LWL products are VMware and Citrix certified, and are available through a global network of certified partners. Visit www.liquidwarelabs.com for further information.

Contact:
Media & Analyst Contact
media@liquidwarelabs.com
866‐914‐9667

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Creating a Dynamic IT Environment

In a recent discussion with a group of executives, I stated “these are very tough times, but the technology is there to be revolutionary and make great things happen for the business.  I told them that they just need to be that revolutionary person to drive change.”  I’ve had a couple of comments online and more offline directly to me around innovation.  I wanted to share some of my thoughts on being innovative and some things that you can do to help push the “innovation envelope” and create a dynamic IT environment.

I’ve been a noticing a lot recently that companies are only looking at what is going on today in their environments, instead of stepping back and getting a fresh perspective. Let’s face it most companies in most industries have a kind of tunnel vision. They chase the same opportunities that everyone else is chasing; they miss the same opportunities that everyone else is missing. It’s the companies that see a different game that win big. The most important question for innovators today is: What do you see that the competition doesn’t see?  In the book “The Art of Innovation”, Tom Kelley gets a term from George Carlin; vuja dé; what does this mean?  It means taking a look at something familiar with a new perspective as if you had never seen it before, and with that new perspective developing a new line of sight into the future.

Now I have to make this statement as it relates to IT, this doesn’t mean that you need to be on the bleeding edge, and maybe you don’t have the resources to invest in multiple areas of technology. Still, you need to ask yourself the question: What do we need to focus on to ensure the future readiness of your own IT organization and to enable the businesses we support to go forward?

I think Citrix has the technology to help you ensure future readiness and enable the business to go forward.  I ask a lot of potential clients and current clients to look at Citrix with a new perspective.  We all know how hard Citrix is trying to remove the ‘one trick pony’ stigma, and I think everyone that has the technology or was looking at the technology a while ago should experience some vuja dé and take another look.

When it comes to innovation in IT, I’ve seen customers actually form small teams within their IT departments that only focus on the future of technology.  They work closely with their counterparts on the business solutions side to ensure that the technology will meet the business requirements and spur further productivity gains and competitive advantage.  I call this planning today for tomorrow’s new technology.  This begs the question, “how far do you look into the future?”  Well the quick answer is it depends.  It depends on the role of your IT department in your company.  I know that in some industries I’ve been engaged with can be at a serious competitive disadvantage if IT doesn’t stay on the leading edge.  These are the companies that are using radical innovation to alter industry economics and redefining for competitive advantage.  The most creative executives I’ve met don’t aspire to learn from the “best in class” in their industry—especially when the best in class aren’t all that great. They aspire to learn from companies far outside their field as a way to shake things up and make real change.

One of the ways that I think IT departments and businesses in general can be innovative is to look again with a fresh perspective to a concept that has been around for a while; dynamic IT, and what this strategy can do for them around competitive advantage etc.  There has been a lot of debate over the last few years whether IT “matters”.  I’ve seen cases where there is not much debate in the minds of some business executives, who recognize that IT is critical to the execution of business strategy.  This isn’t to say that Mr. Carr is wrong; he is most definitely on target with his theories and statements, but many business strategies – including collaborative product development, consumer-driven supply chain, and multi-tiered channel management and customer service – are actually impossible to execute without the support of underlying apps, data repositories, and workflow systems, that may not be a fit for “the cloud”.  That is a whole other conversation that is outside my scope for today.

What needs to be on the mind of every executive is a new, more innovative way to make IT dynamic and create that competitive advantage.  Some companies are creating that “dynamic IT” with application, server, and storage virtualization technologies, but that is probably very innovative for the majority of some companies out there.  Incremental innovation is better than no innovation at all I say, but I’ve said it before in an increasingly nonlinear world, only nonlinear ideas are likely to create competitive advantage.

Like I stated before, the concept of “dynamic IT” has been around for a few years now and has started to gain some traction but not as much as it really could (or should).  The “dynamic IT” concept and push for innovation go hand-in-hand here. By taking the vuja dé idea IT and the business should be looking at and understanding what capabilities exist in the marketplace that they aren’t taking full advantage of, moving on them, and then using them to improve the way they do business today.  A word of caution first; An enormous divide exists, albeit the gap is starting to close quickly but the business still faces the accelerating challenge to be more dynamic, IT has historically responded slowly to changing business needs.  This divide can be very evident in fast cycle industries such as high-tech manufacturing, consumer goods, etc, where the speed of business cycles often outstrips the speed with which IT can react to new market demands.  Here is where IT needs to be utilizing vuja dé more now than in any time in history.  Virtualization and other technologies allow IT to break the old traditional ways IT has worked and really provide that flexible infrastructure that is needed.  To use another quote from a previous post where, Jim Champy said, “For the first time in history we can work backward from our imagination rather than forward from our past”.  Again; vuja dé
I’ve mentioned ‘dynamic IT’ many times now in this post and I’m sure you’re asking “so what are the drivers for a more dynamic IT?”  In my experience of getting vuja dé wit it, the most pressing needs driving the dynamic IT shift are:

•    Speed
•    Performance
•    Cost

I see these top drivers mapping directly into two paths that organizations are taking as they develop a more dynamic IT capability, focused on improving:
    

•    Business strategy automation and execution
o    Focus on responding faster to changing business needs by improving the ability to quickly deliver and integrate applications, data, and workflow that support new business requirements, and improve productivity.  We can do this with the Citrix Delivery Center.
o    Use IT to monitor business performance and speed the business’ operational adjustments to market changes and supporting policy-driven actions.  This comes from developing key metrics in conjunction with the business side and proactively monitoring and making    tactical adjustments as needed to ensure success.
•    IT operations management and automation
o    Focus on delivering higher service-level performance in support of the business and lowering the cost of infrastructure on which the business applications depend.  Again, we can accomplish this with Citrix and other technologies.
o    Link, monitor, and manage – end-to-end – all IT operational elements that support a business activity, from hardware and system software to business applications, data, workflow, and business process.
Again by taking the vuja dé  concept and looking at what Citrix brings to the table today will provide the majority of a solid solution for your organization.
 
There are two key areas where I see IT management focusing.  On the “business strategy automation and execution” side of things, they need to focus on using virtualization and other technologies to create new business value through IT by moving more quickly and cost-effectively in developing/integrating the applications, data, and workflow that support business process execution.  From the “IT operations management and automation” perspective, we (IT) need to increase IT efficiency and performance.  To do that we must deliver better IT operating performance in support of the business and lower IT operating costs by 1) automating labor-intensive tasks.  We can use Citrix Workflow studio to get some of this done. 2) Develop end-to-end management capabilities.  Again we can accomplish this with a mix of standard infrastructure management tools and Workflow Studio.  3) reduce the “hardwired” inflexibility through more virtualization, ie, Desktops, Storage, etc.

There are lots of challenges here and I’m hoping that with a little vuja dé you will see that Citrix and some other technologies can help put you more into the ‘dynamic IT’ set and make great things happen for your company

2009 is the Year of Business Technology

I’m making my New Year’s resolution early this year.  I resolve to raise the level of conversation as it pertains to the transformation of IT (Information Technology) to BT (Business Technology).  Why, you might ask, am I dedicating my efforts to this?  It needs to be done.  The gap between business and IT is growing not shrinking.  In a July 2008 Forrester survey of 600 business executives the numbers made me say, “what?”  All this talk about bringing IT and Business closer and “aligning” the two is nothing but total bunk.  A lot of talk and no one doing anything about making it real.

I want to share with you some of the numbers that support my case:

  1. 82% of respondents agree that technology is core to their business, but only 71% see IT as effective at supporting that requirement.
  2. 72% of respondents see technology as central to the goal of competitive differentiation, but only 61% see IT as effective.
  3. 77% view IT as mandatory for sales and distribution, but only 67% see IT as effectively supporting them.
  4. When asked to assess the importance of business drivers and compare how well IT is supporting them, the gap widens.  The only category where IT support quality approached importance of the business driver was in improving end user workforce productivity – 78% viewed this as a somewhat or critically important business driver, but only 45% viewed IT as supporting this need very well or excellently.  Worse of all, IT’s support for global expansion was viewed by 61% of respondents as important, but only 23% of respondents said IT was doing a good job at it.

See?  So how what is behind these numbers?  An inescapable factor in today’s business environment: the constancy of change. I’ve said it before, enterprises must adapt to the economic imperatives or whither and die; enterprises mastering the art of business agility can gain substantial and sustainable advantage.

The complexity of today’s modern enterprise – its business and IT components, and its linkages with other enterprises – increases the difficulty of implementing changes.  Different elements change at different rates, but the pressure to change is always there.

As you can see by this graphic there are many pressures on the business:

Pressures on the business graphic

In this type of environment, how can you make your business more agile and capitalize on change?  By having a model/framework that addresses many of the difficult problems associated with change.

The Business Technology approach:

  • Targets change as the fundamental architectural problem to address
    • Recognizes that being adaptive requires balancing agility with three other key dimensions: financial returns (especially lower costs), performance, and risk management
  • Defines a core set of architectural principles to promote agility, and applies them consistently across people, processes, and technology throughout the extended enterprise:
    • Modularity: to minimize the dependencies between changes
    • Integration: to enable the composition of separate modules into useful systems
    • Standardization: to facilitate integration, maximizing reuse and extraction of value
    • Simplification: to minimize what needs to change and the associated costs

So stay tuned in 2009 as I start to put together the framework and show you ways to transform IT into Business Technology.

Business Model Innovation

There has been a lot of talk lately about companies needing to revamp or create a existing or new business model.  From the Big 3 automakers need to rearchitect their 50-year old business model to Procter & Gamble.  But this is easier said than done.  Reinventing a business model is a very time-consuming and complex endeavor.  With that said, it can be done and should be done to maintain and/or increase your company’s competitive advantage.

An interesting statistic I read recently was that “fully 11 of the 27 companies born in the last quarter century that grew their way into the Fortune 500 in the past ten years did so through business model innovation.”  That is an impressive fact.  So why aren’t more executives taking a harder look at their companies ability to maintain competitive advantage?  The fact is that most are.  A 2005 survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that over 50% of executives believe that “business model innovation will become even more important for success than product or service innovation.”

The big question I’ve been asking myself in the past few months has been “what is GM/Ford/Chrysler doing to rearchitect their antiquated business model?”  The more I think about it, the more I can understand that I think these companies are so big that they will have to be very creative in the way they build this new business model for the 21st century and beyond.  That is a completely different conversation that I’ll work on for a later post.

For everyone else in the world, why is it so difficult to rebuild or create a new business model?  Some of the reasons that it’s often very difficult to pull off a new business model is that there really isn’t a sense of the processes into business model creation.  Nobody has really sat down and done a true study into what it really takes or has defined it.  Secondly, is that most companies don’t have a good understanding of what their existing business model is.

There are three tenets that, I think, must be followed to create a new business model:

  1. Your customer value proposition.  Every successful company creates value for customers.  They provide a way for their customers to get a “job” done.
  2. Your profit formula:  the core of why people are in business.  This formula is how the company creates value for itself, while creating value for the customer.  The formula consists of models like, the revenue model, cost structures, margin models, and resource velocity.
  3. Your key resources and key processes.  Key resources would be your people, technology, products, etc.  The key resources are the ones that would create value for the customer, not the generic resources.  Key processes are those managerial and operational processes that allow you to deliver value in ways that are repeatable and scalable, like training, planning, sales, etc.

With these elements you have the building blocks for any business.  Your customer value proposition and the profit formula will define the value for your customer and the company.  Key resources and key processess will describe how that value will be delivered to both the customer and the company.

This is a simple framework, but the real power lies in its complex interdependencies of all the parts.  Any successful business will devise a more or less stable system in which these elements bond to one another in consistent and complementary ways.

I’m back

well it was a great run over on http://www.brianmadden.com but the core strategy of the site after the TechTarget acquisition didn’t fit with the business side of things that I was writing about.

So, this site is back and I’ll be posting content regularly up here as well on another very popular site that I’ll be announcing very soon.

VMware’s “Accelerating the business of innovation” ad

I was reading the Wall Street Journal this morning and came across an interesting half-page ad in the Personal Journal section.  It stated simply, “Accelerating the business of innovation.”  They had a big head shot of John Hill CTO of Siemens IT Solutions and Services where he provided the quote around better return on capital investments, faster responsiveness to their customers, etc etc.  The one statement that Mr Hill made that resonated with me was, “freedom to focus on business innovation, not rudimentary IT plumbing.”  Perfectly stated Mr. Hill and I couldn’t agree more.

We have all seen, for many years now, that IT is working hard enough to just keep the lights on and not enough time on helping the business innovate, increase competitive advantage, etc.  The business depends on IT more than ever before and business executives do see the strategic importance of technology as core to their product and service strategy and central to their differentiation and competitive advantage.  But the rub here is that executives I’ve talked to are concerned about the ability of their IT organizations to support it.  Now that isn’t to say that some IT executives aren’t working hard to fulfill the business’ needs using all the tools and processes at their disposal, but……..

Here is where the ad got me to thinking.  This is where IT can get out of the vicious cycle that it finds itself in when it comes to the old standard, design-build-operate model that has plagued IT for years.  By using virtualization technologies like VMware and XenServer along with a solid application and desktop delivery infrastructure, and combine that with a new strategy of business technology, IT can make the transfomation to business enabler.

The technology of virtualization and application delivery speak for themselves and I’m not going to do a deep dive here, but these technologies need to be a key component of an IT Portfolio and IT needs to take steps to transform itself from Information Technology to Business Technology.  I’ll address how in another article.  Suffice it to say that IT executives cannot afford to maintain status quo.  They must replace standalone, product-oriented support functions through business-oriented services and focus the remaining IT organization on a proactive governance model of the company’s ecosystem.  Business-Technology-as-as-Service (BTaaS) is what needs to happen.  With the virtualization and application delivery infrastructures as the base of the BTaaS formula, IT can be that enabler.