Simplicity Doesn’t Just Matter on Day One
*This post originally appeared on the AppSense blog prior to the rebrand in January 2017, when AppSense, LANDESK, Shavlik, Wavelink, and HEAT Software merged under the new name Ivanti.
Technology vendors love checking boxes on feature lists. We do it. Everyone else does it. And it actually does provide some value to IT buyers trying to assess various vendor options.
The problem is that the strengths, weakness, and areas of parity among technology vendors are often very nuanced. Doing enough to check a box on a feature list usually isn’t the same thing as doing enough to make customers successful under real world conditions. Similarly, tossing out sound bites like “Simplicity!” and “Complexity!” doesn’t give customers a complete picture.
Here at AppSense, we’re often stacked up against our desktop and application delivery partners’ bundled profile management capabilities. It’s a conversation we’ve been having for years through a series of acquisitions in and around the UEM space.
VMware’s acquisition of Immidio is the latest in this string of industry developments. Yesterday, Jed Ayres made a strong statement about why we feel more confident than ever that AppSense is the only choice for companies that are serious about doing UEM right.
As a follow up to Jed’s post, I’m going to review a scenario where some of these factors came into play and caused a customer to step up from Immidio to AppSense. The intent isn’t to sling mud at VMware. They remain a key partner to us, and there are undoubtedly many customers out there achieving success with Immidio / User Environment Manager. The aim is to provide a few concrete examples of real world demands that don’t show up on a simple feature checklist or a Twitter sound bite.
The customer we encountered is a multi-billion dollar manufacturing firm that was using Immidio UEM technology to apply personalization and policy to their environment. They hit two significant UEM challenges that ultimately led them to upgrade from Immidio to AppSense.
Added Desktop Policy Flexibility
Much of the functionality behind the Immidio technology is driven directly from network file shares, in contrast to the dedicated database storage model that AppSense Environment Manager uses. While we have very good reasons for taking the approach that we do, there are many who like the fact that Immidio is lightweight on the backend. Like many things in IT, it’s less a case of right and wrong and more a case of trade-offs.
In the scenario we encountered, the customer was forced into using a Group Policy Object to call a large logon script that then enabled access to the network share required for the Immidio components. This intensive, multi-step process was putting quite a bit of overhead on their logon sequence, which became more and more problematic over time.
In addition, each time the customer needed to make changes to their policy configuration details, it required the manual step of manipulating NTFS permissions on the file share.
So, in the end, the benefits the customer gained by having less infrastructure on the backend were offset by a cumbersome user logon sequence and a manually intensive change management process for IT.
Upgrading to AppSense allowed them to greatly simplify the logon sequence and brought point-and-click simplicity to their policy change management process.
Personalization Scalability and Resilience
The customer’s personalization approach hit similar user experience and IT efficiency limitations over time. Personalization was being performed by capturing specific registry keys and files into the Immidio configuration. While this worked at a foundational level, it was a highly manual process that multiplied with every new application the IT team introduced into the environment.
In addition, any issues they encountered with profile data corruption generally resulted in a full delete and reversion back to the default configuration. This was a significant source of user frustration.
Upgrading to AppSense greatly simplified onboarding of new personalized applications and ongoing maintenance. In addition, our capability to perform ongoing snapshots of each user’s personalization and enable selective rollback – right down to the individual application level – made life much easier for both users and the IT team.
Choice is Good, but the Details Matter
VMware’s efforts to fill gaps in their product portfolio by adding new desktop profile management and policy capabilities are a positive development for the industry, and customers should absolutely explore all options that are available to them.
However, the scenario I described above is just one example of how simply checking the boxes in areas like desktop personalization and policy isn’t enough. Similarly, assessing attributes like simplicity requires more than a sound bite.
What seems simple on day one may not seem as simple on day 365.