Insentra’s Cloud and Collaboration Solutions Architect, Aaron Parker, discusses all things FSLogix and why it is a must for partners looking to improve end user experience.
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Aaron Parker: Hi, my name’s Aaron Parker. I’m a solution architect at Insentra.
What are we talking about today?
We’re going to talk about FSLogix. There’s lots of good news to talk about what FSLogix do and what it can do for our customers and their partners.
What is FSLogix?
Obviously, FSLogix is a company based in the US. Smart bunch of guys, a long history in delivering applications or desktop environments. They’ve got four products, four key products that I think are really focused at physical and virtual desktop environments. That’s FSLogix application masking, FSLogix Java version control, profile containers and Office 365 containers.
Profile containers then and Office 365 containers is a really easy way to deliver end users a great user experience. They really revolve around virtual desktop environments, not so much physical. The profile containers and Office 365 containers, we take a virtual disk, essentially, attach that to the users desktop when they log on. We do things like deliver their profile instantly, so we reduce the logon times. With Office 365 containers, we improve the user experience for virtual desktop environments. What we’re doing there is delivering that user that physical PC-like experience in their virtual desktop environment.
Things like Outlook, for example, users know how Outlook works on a physical PC. They want it to work in the same way in a virtual desktop environment. OneDrive for Business, exactly the same thing. People migrating to Office 365, they want to use OneDrive for Business. They want that to work in a virtual desktop just like it works on a physical PC. Also, Skype for Business. Everyone’s migrating to Skype for Business. When users start up Skype for Business, they want it to start instantly, they want their address book to work and be available to them instantly.
If we consider Outlook, for example, we want to enable cache mode. We’ve migrated to Office 365, or even if we have an on-prem Exchange mailbox, we want to deliver that user that cached Outlook Exchange on Outlook mode so that Outlook looks and feels just like it does on a physical PC. We’ll also enable Windows search so the user knows what it’s like to on a physical PC, when they open their mailbox and they want to search for an item, they have results there that are available instantly.
We want to deliver the same thing on the XenApp, XenDesktop, VMware Horizon, whatever it is. Enable cache mode, we enable Windows search, index that mailbox and user gets that local-like experience just like they expect. Because these nonpersistent environments, they logon next day, they get exactly the same experience that they had yesterday. It’s the same thing for OneDrive for Business.
Technically, Microsoft doesn’t actually support OneDrive for Business under, say, XenApp or My Desktop services. With FSLogix, we can do that. We can capture the OneDrive client, we can capture the OneDrive sync folder, and make OneDrive for Business work just like it works on a physical PC.
What environments does FSLogix work in?
A great thing about the approach to the FSLogix that’s taken is that it’s environment independent. What I mean by that, it’s independent of the Hypervisor underneath. It could be XenServer, vSphere, Hyper-V, it could be public Cloud like Microsoft Azure or AWS. It’s also independent of the delivery mechanisms: Citrix, XenApp, XenDesktop, VMware Horizon, Microsoft IDS, and even others, things like Workspot and so on, all these new players. Because it’s an agent that lives inside the desktop, it’s independent of the underlying platform, it’s independent of the delivery mechanisms. It works across everything.
What have partners been asking?
We’ve been talking to a lot of partners, recently, who are SMPs, they’re looking to deliver Desktop as a Service. It’s always that same challenge, the user experience. They’re bundling the desktop application’s access to the customer environment, sort of monthly cost or per user monthly cost. They wanted to differentiate themselves from their competitors, perhaps. The way they’re doing that is by concentrating on the end user experience.
Users know what that physical PC desktop experience is like. They know how their applications work. They know that when they logon to a desktop, all their preferences are there, their mailbox is there, Skype, OneDrive for Business. Whatever it is, it’s there and it works the way that they expect. They want the exact experience in virtual desktop environment. Our partners can protect their investment or provide a better user experience, and better value for money by putting in things like FSLogix profile containers, Office 365 containers for that user experience.
On the other side, it’s about management of the environment. An MSP, for example, is delivering a multi-user, multi-tenant environment, perhaps, to their customers. Different customers have different applications, and then looking at the ways that they can simplify delivery of those images. I have an image of lots of applications in it, I can use FSLogix application masking to perhaps hide and show the applications, depending on who the user is. That might be for security reasons, it might be for application licensing reasons, or it might be enterprise applications that perhaps use Java, for example. Java have multiple versions of the GRE and deliver that through the same desktop. Deliver a better user experience, simplify the way that they manage their desktop environments.
Why is FSLogix a must for business?
I’ll break it down in probably a couple of key areas. I’ve set it a few times now, it’s user experience. I want to protect the investment that I have. Whether I’m a partner delivering Desktop as a Service or whether I’m a customer that has an on-prem virtual desktop environment, I want to protect the investment I have in that. The way I do that is I make happy users, and the only way to do that is deliver a great user experience. The profile containers, Office 365 containers is a key piece of doing that.
From an IT perspective, the application masking, Java version controls is a way for them to simplify the way that they deliver those desktops, the way they deliver applications. I might be looking at Citrix App Layering, I might be looking at VMware App Volumes. These are great solutions for delivering applications in the virtual desktop environments. I can use FSLogix application masking in concert with these two solutions to perhaps simplify them again or solve application licensing challenges, and so on. Just simplifying the way IT manages those desktop environments.
Is FSLogix easy to implement into a business?
Easy, so easy. I talk to partners and customers a lot about the simplicity. This is what I really like about the FSLogix approach, is their simplicity in their architecture. I usually talk about as no architecture. The way FSLogix has approached their product is the only architecture they have, really, is the agent. Nothing else. Everything else fits in with your existing environment.
We’d install, manage in my master image, and then I use my existing storage. I do my configuration, perhaps, through solutions I already have like group policy and so on. I don’t have to deploy any management architecture back in. I don’t have to change anything in my approach to where I’m actually delivering my desktops. Just slots in exactly into the environment they already have. It’s all about simplicity.
How does FSLogix work with the Insentra model?
Great thing about Insentra model is we work through our partners and their customers. Insentra is a distributor for FSLogix. The way that we would resell FSLogix to the customers is only through our partners. Whether a partner is an MSP and they’re building FSLogix into their existing licensing model, whether it’s a partner working with an existing customer, we can resell and support FSLogix through our partner relationships and their customers.
How does FSLogix compare to Citrix and VMware?
Citrix and VMware have both come out in the past 18 months or so on with VMware with App Volumes, Citrix with App Layering. These are about simplifying the way that IT delivers applications into their virtual desktop environments. I can capture my applications into a virtual disk and attach those to the device or the virtual desktop when the user logs on or when I compose that master image. It simplifies the application packaging, and so on.
I have a challenge with that in that I still have all my applications I have to put into application layers, per se. What I might want to do is perhaps reduce the number of layers that I have. From a performance perspective, it may be from a management perspective as well. FSLogix App Masking is complementary to both of those products. I can reduce the number of images that I have.
We have a customer, for example, using Citrix App Layering. He’s actually getting better performance out of the environment by combining Citrix App Layering and FSLogix App Masking in their XenApp environment and delivering those applications to users on demand, making users happy, simplifying things for IT.
Why are you so passionate about FSLogix?
I know the guys at FSLogix, especially a number of them for quite a number of years, so I got a great relationship with the guys. Also, from a product perspective, it’s just in the simplicity in their approach. The simplicity in the architecture, the deployment and management of the FSLogix components is just so easy to deploy and manage, and so on. This is exactly what we need in IT. We need ways to do more with less, spend less time on delivering applications, and so on. FSLogix have really, I guess, cracked that up.
Because Insentra is the distributor for FSLogix in the NZ region, we can assist with evaluations, technical crews and pricing. If you want to find out more info, just e-mail FSLogix@Insentragroup.com
A user experience guy first and foremost, Aaron is an experienced End User Computing Solutions Architect with a history delivering innovative end user projects to customers and organisations in APAC and the UK.
Awarded Citrix Technology Professional (2012-2016, 1 of 50 people worldwide), Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (2011-2016) and AppSense Community Contributor (since 2012) for community involvement and contributions with blogging and regular speaking at events including Citrix Synergy (US/EU), BriForum (US/EU), E2EVC and the UK Citrix User Group.
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