Big Data and DaaS

When Brian and Gabe published their DaaS book the other day, I read it and enjoyed it quite a bit.

Many of the finer points with VDI, DaaS, and a more application-focused or traditional desktop delivery model make this a great read for anybody who is interested in the topic. On brianmadden.com, there are a couple of really good  blogs about DaaS in recent days as well.

Anyways, in the book on page 95 (or if you’re more in tune with Kindle eBooks – Location 1141), Brian and Gabe point out that the migration to DaaS or VDI requires a little bit of work:

After all, you have to somehow get all the desktops and applications from your company into the DaaS provider’s cloud. This is no small task. It’s an all-out forklift of a desktop migration, and you’re in the driver’s seat! There will almost certainly be costs associated with this, from discovery of applications (think assessment solutions like Lakeside SysTrack, Citrix AppDNA, or (…)) to purchasing additional software or licenses, to training users, to managing applications and users after they reach their new home.

 Madden, Brian; Knuth, Gabe (2014-02-25). Desktops as a Service: Everything You Need to Know About DaaS & Hosted VDI (p. 95).  . Kindle Edition.

 When I worked for one of the desktop virtualization vendors we knew that one of the main inhibitors to successful virtual desktop and app adoption was the need to better understand users and their applications. Without the right tools, it’s often an almost insurmountable obstacle and the quest for an end-user assessment tool actually introduced me to Lakeside in the first place.

Our SysTrack product is the industry leading Big Data solution for End User Computing – since 1997 – before Big Data was even a word. Hadoop didn’t even get started until the early 2000s.

Big  Data is often described as the discipline where you take a lot of often machine generated data, put it all in one place (read: One database, hadoop cluster, or whatever) and then use one or more number crunchers to turn all that data into useful information. That’s how it got started, but Big Data is much more about taking an otherwise unmanageable amount of data and correlate it in a way that it provides deep insights that are relevant.

What does Lakeside SysTrack relate to Big Data?  Let’s look at two distinct aspects:

  • Turning Data into Information: SysTrack grabs several thousand data points every few seconds from systems that it monitors and it aggregates the data in a way that you can report on it. The primary use  case is for on-going monitoring and management of compute environments,   but the information lends itself superbly to planning a VDI or DaaS  deployment. SysTrack tells you what applications are running, how many and what kind of resources they consume, what applications you have that are not being utilized, etc. There is more to it than I can detail in a short blog.  Tools like our Virtual Machine Planner can be leveraged to put together neat master images, assign users to them and to predict the resource footprint in the data center. That was easy.
  • Data Collection. Most Big Data hadoop clusters rely on having all the data in all its granularity in a central point and hadoop doesn’t care much how you get it there. So, it’s great for stuff that is already in the datacenter, but not very well suited for end-user-compute environments, where the data have to be  captured on potentially 10,000s of devices all around the world.

Therefore, SysTrack is built on a unique architecture where the data are being captured on the end point and it uses a tiny bit of the end-point’s compute power to turn the raw data into an intelligent summary that is then shared over the network with one or more central servers. Only about 100kB are transmitted each day, so that the network is not clogged up in the process. Device offline? No problem – the condense process as we call it simply happens the next time the user connects.

If you’re interested specifically in the DaaS aspect of SysTrack, have a look at this whitepaper: http://bit.ly/DaaSBP

If you like to leverage the free Citrix project accelerator (which includes the free FastTrack product to assess the application estate and for general image planning), point your browser to http://project.citrix.com, start a project, and click on “Use Automated Tool” when you get to the section about applications.

Lastly, let us know if you’d like to learn more about the full version of SysTrack, which includes the full functionality of the Virtual Machine Planner and much more.

Florian

florian.becker@lakesidesoftware.com

Twitter: @florianbecker

Lakeside Software at GTC – vGPU Planning and Optimization

With GTC coming up shortly it seems like an ideal time to discuss some of the key concepts that we’ll be covering in our talk at the conference about designing and optimizing a virtual environment with complex graphical needs using NVIDIA’s innovative GRID technology.  A recurring theme with us here at Lakeside is a focus on characterizing end-user demand, and planning for successful vGPU provisioning is another thing that’s totally contingent on taking the actual user usage and applying solid mathematical analysis for use case development. This is where SysTrack comes in.

The overall strategy is covered in more detail in a white paper and a MarketPlace report, but to summarize, the key to assessing and delivering a useable environment is understanding the usage habits and needs of the users, including the GPU demand of the current applications they interact with. By continually collecting these details and providing quantitative analysis of the different types of graphical profiles people may require SysTrack provides an in-depth, accurate way to architect a solution that will provide the best possible experience for end-users.

Once this plan has been developed, the next step is delivering and ensuring steady state performance through observation and optimization. Through the use of NVIDIA-specific driver details SysTrack can provide vGPU utilization metrics in the virtual environment to ensure that as usage evolves the profiles and provisioning can keep up. Ultimately this improves the adoption rate by providing advanced users with more demanding needs a seamless, well performing experience.

For more details, check out the talk that Florian and I will be giving at GTC on Tuesday: “S4686 – NVIDIA GRID for VDI: How To Design And Monitor Your Implementation” or our website (www.lakesidesoftware.com) for details about solutions for your VDI or application delivery implementation.

Getting the most out of Microsoft SCCM with SysTrack

Managing large computing environments can be a real challenge for any IT administrator. Simple tasks such as ensuring every user has the latest version of Microsoft Excel can cause a great deal of headaches. A small company IT staff, with maybe 10 or 20 users, can simply check each employee’s device to see which version of an application they’re running. But what do you do when there are 100 users? Or 1,000 users? Time simply won’t permit physically checking devices and talking with each user (unless you enjoy working around the clock).

Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager is a popular choice for the large company IT administrator. SCCM is ideal for managing a large environment of end-points, keeping software up-to-date, setting security policies, deploying configurations and polices, and much more. Of course, just because your software is running the latest version doesn’t mean your environment is efficiently organized and getting the best value it could. Any IT worker worth their salt is looking for areas where cost savings can be realized. A great way to identify IT cost savings is to gain insight into how the environment you manage with SCCM is actually being utilized. Are all of those Microsoft Office instances you deployed actually being used? Does each user have all of the applications they need to be effective at their job? Are there unmanaged applications being used that need to be accounted for and supported? Having a detailed, reliable software inventory can go a long way in the IT world.

Software rationalization based on actual usage data can ensure you’re not wasting money on licenses that are going unused and that each user has exactly the right software. Lakeside Software’s core product, SysTrack, is designed to answer these types of questions for you. Using agent-based methodology SysTrack provides detailed information from the individual user level all the way up to enterprise level trends. The agent-based design allows for an extremely granular view of the data when you need it as well as a broad overview of the enterprise as a whole when you want to look at trends. Don’t bother with setting up perfmon counters or time consuming, complicated monitoring tools – SysTrack is simple to install and set up and will provide you with the IT intelligence you need right out of the box.

Understanding user needs based on how they are interacting with the current environment allows you to rationalize software deployments and create images that make sense and save on unnecessary costs. SysTrack provides a clear understanding of which applications are being used by each user, how much they are using those applications, and even how much productivity is being impacted by poor performance. All of the in-depth information available to you through SysTrack can greatly reduce costs from saving software licenses that may go unused, reduced planning time for image creation, and reduced support time.

There are a lot of options available to today’s IT administrator for monitoring and managing their environment. Lakeside has put a lot of time into making sure SysTrack covers all of your IT intelligence needs and helps reduce the costs associated with and the time required to keep your environment efficient and running smoothly. Find out how to take the guesswork out of IT decisions (and eliminate the headache of parsing log files to troubleshoot) by checking out the SysTrack Product Suite.