Tag : operating system

New/Best Ultrabook for Business

bva is always looking for good products that will work well in businesses and the new trend today is Ultrabook’s.  I get asked quite frequently what is the best for the business world and there are many but I really like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga.  Having a smaller computer that is light-weight and easy to move around is a huge benefit.  bva comes in contact with many different units of hardware and we have become very picky with what we recommend but this particular unit that we viewed really hits on all the metrics.  This ultrabook is running Windows 8 and featuring a flipping, folding touch screen. It’s not just the first touch-enabled ultrabook we’ve seen, it’s also equipped with Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors and running Microsoft‘s touch-friendly Windows 8 operating system.The IdeaPad YOGA is first and foremost an ultrabook, with a thin 0.67-inch chassis that weighs in at 3.1 pounds. Its 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) and an estimated 8-hour battery are par for the course among ultrabooks, but the YOGA brings plenty of new features as well, like an Intel Ivy Bridge processor and a whopping 8GB of RAM.The 13.3-inch screen of the IdeaPad YOGA offers ten-point capacitive touch, and Lenovo’s unique double-hinge design lets you fold the screen back around the laptop to become a 13-inch tablet. The IdeaPad YOGA will have the yet-to-be released Windows 8 operating system, which includes the touch-friendly Metro interface.But it’s not all new processors and software. Lenovo is also upping the ante in the hands-on department, covering the bottom of the laptop with soft-touch rubber paint for a luxurious texture and secure grip, while bringing back the leather covered palmrest found on the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 ($1,049.99 direct, 3.5 stars) and retaining the scalloped keys and large clickpad found on the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s ($1,495 list, 4 stars).The convertible ultrabook is designed to switch between four different form-factors with a flip of the screen. It can change from a conventional laptop to a tablet, easel mode with the screen standing at an angle, or tent mode with the YOGA setting upright on the edges of the screen and chassis. Buttons on the sides of the chassis maintain full functionality even when the keyboard isn’t in use, and with Lenovo’s 360-degree hinges.

The Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA convertible ultrabook is coming in the summer of 2012 and we were fortunate to view this at the CES show this past week in Las Vegas.  The estimated starting price is around $1,199.

Application Virtualization – The Basics

Application Virtualization is the future and it’s more clear today than it has ever been.  I always find it funny how people always revert back to the basics after every other form of architecture is explored.  Application virtualization refers to several techniques that make running applications more protected, more flexible or easier to manage.  Modern operating systems attempt to keep programs isolated from each other. If one program crashes, the remaining programs generally keep running. However, bugs in the operating system or applications can cause the entire system to come to a screeching halt or, at least, impede other operations.  Full application virtualization requires a virtualization layer.  Application virtualization layers replace part of the runtime environment normally provided by the operating system. The layer intercepts all file and Registry operations of virtualized applications and transparently redirects them to a virtualized location, often a single file.  The application never knows that it’s accessing a virtual resource instead of a physical one. Since the application is now working with one file instead of many files and registry entries spread throughout the system, it becomes easy to run the application on a different computer and previously incompatible applications can be run side-by-side.   Examples of this technology for the Windows platform are Cameyo, Ceedo, Evalaze, InstallFree, Citrix XenApp, Novell ZENworks Application VIrtualization, Endeavors Technologies Application Jukebox, Microsoft Application Virtualization, Software Virtualization Solution, VMware ThinApp and InstallAware Virtualization.

Technology categories that fall under Application Virtualization include:

  • Application Streaming-Pieces of the application’s code, data, and settings are delivered when they’re first needed, instead of the entire application being delivered before startup. Running the packaged application may require the installation of a lightweight client application. Packages are usually delivered over a protocol such as HTTP, CIFS or RTSP.
  • Desktop Virtualization/Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)-The application is hosted in a VM or blade PC that also includes the operating system (OS). These solutions include a management infrastructure for automating the creation of virtual desktops, and providing for access control to target virtual desktop. VDI solutions can usually fill the gaps where application streaming falls short.

Provided below are some basic terms as well as architecutral frameworks when considering in deploying a solution of this nature:

  • Application Streaming=  Rather than installing all applications in every user’s machine, applications are delivered to each user’s PC as needed. This enables the applications to be updated centrally and also provides a way to measure each users’ application requirements over time. See application streaming.
  • Terminals to a Central Computer=  The oldest network architecture, all applications and data are stored in a centralized server or cluster of servers. The user’s PC functions like a terminal to the server or dedicated terminals are used. The applications are said to be “virtualized” because they function as if they were running on the client. See thin client.
  • Partition the Hardware=  This is the traditional meaning of “virtualization” and refers to partitioning a computer in order to run several applications without interference, each in their own “virtual machine.” Deployed in servers and clients, this is more accurately called “server virtualization” and “client virtualization.” Contrast with OS virtualization. See virtual machine.
  • Write the Program Once, Run Everywhere=  An interpreted programming language enables the same program to run on different machine platforms, with Java and Visual Basic being the major examples (see Java Virtual Machine and Visual Basic). The applications are said to be “virtualized” because they run on any platform that has a runtime engine for that language.
  • Dynamic Application Assignment=  This approach treats servers in the datacenter as a pool of operating system resources and assigns those resources to applications based on demand in real time. The pioneer in this area is Data Synapse Inc. The applications are said to be “virtualized” because they can be run in any server.

Benefits of application Virtualization

  • Allows applications to run in environments that do not suit the native application.
  • May protect the operating system and other applications from poorly written or buggy code.
  • Uses fewer resources than a separate virtual machine.
  • Run applications that are not written correctly, for example applications that try to store user data in a read-only system-owned location.
  • Run incompatible applications side-by-side, at the same time and with minimal regression testing against one another.
  • Maintain a standard configuration in the underlying operating system across multiple computers in an organization, regardless of the applications being used, thereby keeping costs down.
  • Implement the security principle of least privilege by removing the requirement for end-users to have Administrator privileges in order to run poorly written applications.
  • Simplified operating system migrations.
  • Accelerated application deployment, through on-demand application streaming.
  • Improved security, by isolating applications from the operating system.
  • Enterprises can easily track license usage. Application usage history can then be used to save on license costs.
  • Fast application provisioning to the desktop based upon user’s roaming profile.
  • Allows applications to be copied to portable media and then imported to client computers without need of installing them.

Limitations of application Virtualization

  • Not all software can be virtualized. Some examples include applications that require a device driver and 16-bit applications that need to run in shared memory space.
  • Some types of software such as anti-virus packages and application that require heavy OS integration.
  • Only file and Registry-level compatibility issues between legacy applications and newer operating systems can be addressed by application virtualization.

Windows Intune – Optimistic View

BVA has been in the cloud for sometime.  Obviously being in the cloud means alot of different things to alot of different people.  Everyone seems to have their own spin on the term.  For some time now we have wondered if Microsoft would come out with System Center for the cloud (BPOS). The overall BPOS solution has been fairly stable and successful yet there have been a few pitfalls but have worked through them with support.

As its core, Windows Intune is a cloud-based version of the desktop management capabilities customers could previously get by deploying Microsoft System Center technologies. For those that do not know that Microsoft System Center, it’s basically a bunch of older product put together via a large suite of applications.  That being said the applications contributed are valid and great products.  It’s basically the old SMS desktop management system and basically MOM.  These are tried and tested application that BVA has deployed for several years, yet all required their own on-premise servers.  Therefore, Window Intune, rather than hosting a System Center server on-premises and managing desktops from the server, administrators using Windows Intune load a client onto the desktops.  Administrators can access, via a browser, the management software and tools in the cloud and manage and secure those desktops through the cloud. In addition to the product features, the monthly subscription will include upgrade rights to Windows 7 Enterprise for every covered desktop and an option to buy the otherwise hard-to-get Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP).

When the first limited beta of Windows Intune arrived in April, Microsoft described it almost exclusively as a midmarket IT-focused offering, with a slightly lower-end core audience than the System Center suite of products reaches. Core capabilities of Windows Intune include the ability to centrally manage the deployment of updates and service packs to PCs, to manage protection of PCs through the Microsoft Malware Protection Engine, to receive alerts that help administrators proactively monitor PCs, provide remote assistance, track hardware and software inventory, and set security policies.  For users familiar with Microsoft’s other product families, Windows Intune combines a Web-based management console with the desktop malware protection and reporting of the Microsoft Forefront Protection Suite and the update management, inventory and software deployment of Microsoft System Center Configuration manager 2007 or Microsoft System Center Essentials. Windows Intune also has the operating system distribution capabilities of Configuration Manager.

After reviewing all the facts it seems that this will be a great offering for our client base.  We are going to try this out at a client next month and we are looking forward to really seeing the real-world applications and cost savings.  I think it is fair to say that I am a little apprehensive about the security associated in imaging desktops through the cloud, but time will tell.  As a collective unit, BVA is staying positive with the security and ease of use.