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User environment management market heats up

User environment management is a key part of controlling users' virtual desktop profiles and settings. To catch up with the likes of VMware and LANDesk, Citrix made its own UEM acquisition this month.

User environment management will have a crucial role as the user experience and ROI of desktop virtualization become more important.  

Recognizing this trend, VMware, LANDesk and Citrix have made acquisitions in the market over the last 18 months. Some of the biggest benefits of user environment management (UEM) have to do with user experience. It can streamline performance by reducing virtual desktop resource consumption, and it allows IT admins to carry over users' desktop configurations to other computers or operating systems.

"That's why you are seeing these acquisitions," said Robert Young, research analyst at IDC. "Vendors are showing that boosting the user experience isn't a secondary thought to them."

UEM also gives IT control over users' virtual desktop profiles and settings, such as printer configurations and permissions to install certain applications and visit certain websites.

Citrix-Norskale buy brings 'clever' resource allocation

Citrix this month acquired UEM software provider Norskale and plans to add the startup's technology to its XenDesktop and XenApp products. Norskale aims to reduce logon times by optimizing resource usage; the technology uses a unique algorithm to analyze user behavior and adjust the desktop's consumption of RAM, CPU and other resources accordingly, so they aren't over-allocated.

Vendors are showing that boosting the user experience isn't a secondary thought to them.
Robert Youngresearch analyst at IDC

"This is about Citrix investing in its core business of end-user computing, which bodes well for [its] ongoing competitiveness," said David Johnson, analyst at Forrester Research. "[Norskale] improves end-user experience through clever resource management."

This improved resource allocation can also help increase the density of servers that host a business' virtual desktops by 70%, Citrix said. That could bring buyers a bigger return on their investments, Young said.

"A lot of times, virtual client computing buyers say, 'I can save money on PCs, but ... I have to buy more storage and servers,' and they end up paying more," Young said. "If 70% server scalability increase is even close to accurate, that's significant and can reduce the cost of ownership."

The addition of Norskale could even make XenDesktop more appealing to IT shops, said Jim Davies, director of IT at Ongweoweh Corp., a pallet and packing management company in Ithaca, N.Y. Ongweoweh considered adopting VDI in the past, but hasn't pulled the trigger because of the extra expense. It's a small business with about 80 employees, and this sentiment is typical of businesses of its size.

"The more you can get out of your resources, obviously, that will save you money," Davies said. "For larger companies, [the scalability] could be very intriguing. It gives you incentive to look into it, but smaller companies won't change their mind."

Citrix will change the name of Norskale's product to Workspace Environment Manager.

UEM market on the move

VMware acquired Immidio, a UEM software provider based in Amsterdam, last year. LANDesk acquired AppSense, a virtualization technology and UEM provider based in Sunnyvale, Calif., in March.

AppSense's Endpoint Security Suite 2.0, its first product release since the acquisition, includes automated patch management technology based on LANDesk's Shavlik Protect tool. The product also offers application whitelisting, as well as malware and ransomware prevention.

These acquisitions are evidence of the usefulness of UEM technology, said Tyler Rohrer, co-founder and director of alliances at Liquidware Labs Inc., a UEM provider in Alpharetta, Ga.

"This validates the technology," Rohrer said. "It affords the ability to automate what was previously a manual task."

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