Thursday, 29 November 2012

AppSense Personalization Server Global Inclusions and Exclusions

NOTE: This post has been superseded by the following post as this configuration will prevent configuration assistant from gathering sufficient information: 

AppSense Personalization Server Default Inclusions and Exclusions are, in my opinion, far to open. I understand why AppSense have left these the way they are but I think the hassle they cause 12 to 18 months down the line makes the approach I use worthwhile.

Before I get into the approach I take I will state that it takes a lot more work up front to configure applications using my approach than sticking with the AppSense defaults however in the long run it will save you the hassle of going back to remove a file or registry key for every user which has been captured without knowing.

Personalization Server in a multi site, single image scenario

With Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and provisioned XenApp servers becoming a massive trend I’m often asked by AppSense Engineers how they can build a configuration which allows them to manage a single master / gold image for each platform from an AppSense Personalization Server perspective.
Historically engineers needed to define the computers Personalization Server within the configuration.aemp file which was then baked into the gold image. This meant that if the strategy was to build a single master image and manage this moving forward the AppSense Engineer needed to either leverage the sites list within Personalization Server or implement some clever global server load balancing.

I’m confused… what profile type should I use?

I’m often asked what user profile I recommend using within a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or XenApp environment from an AppSense perspective. Over the past few years there have been several different recommendations and the purpose of this post is to share my thoughts.
Before making a statement I’ll summarize the various profile types:
Local Profile – Classic user profile stored on the local device only. User settings do not roam with the user between devices and if the users device fails the users profile is lost.
Roaming Profile – User profile which is synchronised between the local machine and the network at logon and logoff events. User settings roam with the user between devices (using the same profile types). Remember that if a user who uses a roaming profile logs onto a V1 machine (Windows XP and Windows Server 2003) and then logs onto a V2 machine (Windows Vista and above) they will have two roaming profiles within their profile path. One will read USERNAME and the other USERNAME.V2.
Mandatory Profile – A lightweight read only profile which has generally been customised for the environment it will be used in. Users are able to make changes during the session but as soon as they click logoff the changes are discarded and the profile is cleared from the device.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

EMP_P2V Tool... Eliminate the need to ever hive to a fileshare again

Here is another tool created by Nikolas Jung and Oli Oehlenberg of the Central Europe AppSense Professional Services team. The tool is called EMP_P2V and its main purpose in life is to allow users to import and export the registry keys and folders which you would historically have reverted to Environment Manager Policy to manage (e.g. Certificates, Libraries, etc.)

The tool is available on the AppSense Exchange under the reference AEL00077 - EMP_P2V (APS Tool)

Friday, 16 November 2012

Persinfo... A tool that no AppSense Techie should leave home without

Some of the best tools I've ever seen have been developed by people who work in support teams and this tool is no different. My friend, Shaun Jones, who works for AppSense has created something really special in Persinfo.

To try and summarise the value of the tool in words would be impossible so I'll share a few headline features and would highly recommend you head off to the AppSense Exchange to download a copy of this.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Using Application Manager to allow users to install their own applications

One thing that keeps information security specialists up at night is the fact that more often than not end users have administrator rights. Whether they're highly trained IT Staff or Joe Bloggs who only uses a PC because he has to, the fact that there is a user who has administrator rights as their standard user account compromises the network security.

More often than not administrator rights are deployed for one of the following reasons:
  1. Users need to install their own applications.
  2. Users need to run applications that require administrator rights.
  3. Users travel and need to be able to change date and time settings.
  4. Users need to install printer drivers
AppSense Application Manager is capable of addressing each of the above scenarios and this post will run through scenario 1. 

Adding HA to the Simple Personalization Architecture

Following up on my previous article which was designed to show a high level infrastructure for AppSense Personalization server this post is going to expand on the original diagram and include high availability capability.

Since the release of AppSense Environment Manager 8.0.983.0 AppSense have supported Microsoft SQL Mirroring to provide high availability.

Friday, 2 November 2012

AppSense Environment Manager Personalization Server Configuration Tweaks

AppSense Environment Manager Personalization Server Configuration Tweaks

Please do not implement any changes described in this article without fully understanding the implications and thorough testing within your environment. If you ignore this advice and implement it anyway you will probably lose data and I will not be responsible.

Since the release of AppSense Environment Manager 8.0 there has been a variety of settings configured by default. These are commonly referred to as Global Settings and Global Inclusions and Exclusions. 

I've been installing and configuring the product for a number of years now and I've got my own preferred set of settings which I implement on top of the AppSense default settings. In the interest of community spirit and all that I'm going to share the settings.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

A Simple Management and Personalization Server Architecture

A Simple Management and Personalization Server Architecture

AppSense Management and Personalization Servers are both simple 3-tier infrastructure. Each component includes an agent which is deployed to the endpoint, an IIS server and a Microsoft SQL database at the back end. 

The following diagram provides a high level diagram on what an AppSense infrastructure may look like. 

Specifying Personalization Servers

A quick AppSense Personalization Server tip from the field...

Prior to Environment Manager 8.3 a Personalization Server was configured within the Environment Manager configuration.aemp file. When the agent started it would read the configuration.aemp file, connect to the first available server listed. The connection would then be subject to the sites list within the Personalization Server console to determine which Personalization server the end user would access. The problem with this implementation is each machine would perform this evaluation, each user who logs on would perform this evaluation and then each time the configpoll is triggered (default 600 seconds.)

As you can imagine the above means there are quite a number of hits on the database for each user. Take this and extrapolate it out to your total user base and it gets you thinking.