User Environment Management

State of End User Computing market 2016 (UEM)

User Environment Management
UEM Smackdown

If you woke up from a two year sleep and took a look at the End User Computing market right now September 2016, you’d be surprised. A lot of the well known vendors in the End User Computing market are acquired by others these days, the smaller ones that is. The market so to say is emptier, perhaps with less choice than before.  In this article I’d like to take a look at one segment of the End User Computing market, User Environment Management. Saying you focus on one segment of the market is easier said than done, I realize I need to take into account that companies offer functionality through a suite of licenses. Like I did with the last User Environment Management comparison white paper aka smackdown, I will take in account the fact that suites are more common than point solutions these days.


I’m going back a little bit to reflect on what we had back then. In 2014 all User Environment Management vendors were still on the market. We had a nice palette of vendors, solutions and choices. A fierce battle was going on between RES and AppSense in Europe. Several smaller vendors like Immidio,  VUEM and some others were offering User Environment Management as well but on a smaller scale. In the US vendors like Liquidware Labs were fighting battles for customer with RES and AppSense. Of course there were others but I think the ones named here are the ones that we saw on the battle field.

Vendors like Microsoft, Citrix and VMware all offered some sort of User Environment Management solution but all of them failed to offer a Enterprise ready solution that would take in account the context of the user and the device. They offered basis solution with no advanced features… no wonder the market changed.

In 2014 at VMworld in San Francisco (can we please go back there), we had a meeting were the discussion was about what User Environment Management solution they should acquire. Three vendors were discussed each with it’s pro’s and cons. A couple of months later news got out, VMware acquired Immidio, the market started to change, one down some others to go. – Read about it here



I move forward two years, in those two years Immidio was integrated in the VMware stack more or less. It’s still a product that is configured and installed as it used to be. We’ve seen some integration where now you can configure some User Environment Management features in the VMware AppVolumes Astro console.  VMware was the first to realize they didn’t have a great tool, Persona Management, once acquired from RTO was their profile solution for a long time but was lacking most modern functionalities the market was looking for. Without the big three having a solution the market was thriving to fill that in. With Immidio in their pocket VMware had the advantage. Whether you like it or not, think they miss features or not, customers will always look within the license first. We come to that later on, looking at what is offered and why perhaps other solutions might give value add-on. Every VMware customer with a Enterprise license for Horizon is allowed to use VMware UEM. This decision might be the saviour for the third party solutions. VMware only offers Persona Management with the standard and advanced licenses.


Next vendor to go down was AppSense. LANDESK got their eyes on AppSense and acquired it. – Read more about it here –  LANDESK is all about management of the device, asset management, security management and so on. What LANDESK didn’t have was a User Environment Management solution and if you want to compete in the market today in 2016 you need to be able to offer a suite of products. With acquiring Appsense they did a good job for them and for AppSense, they created a stronger bid in the market. How is integration going, I expect most integration to be visible in 2017 and going forward from there. Merging companies is a major task so the first 6-8 months is more meeting than actually work being done.

The one thing AppSense and LANDESK are lacking of course is a eco system like Citrix, VMware or Microsoft have. They will always be the third party being added to bring value to the environment.

Norskale – VUEMMarket

The last one, for now, is Norskale – VUEM that was acquired by Citrix. Citrix had a couple of rough years. They were king in the SBC/VDI market for several years but forgot to check their back. VMware sneaked up (no it’s not snuck) on them and now they’re fighting for positions. Writing my User Environment Management comparison white paper aka Smackdown showed that Citrix was becoming the laughing stock of the market having nothing to offer for a real profile solution. Lot’s of discussions were held and blogs were written on this subject. With their Sepago solution that offered profile management they got through the years but 99% of our customers chose a third party solution as it just didn’t do anymore. So I’m happy to see they made a move and acquired Norskale VUEM. – Read about it here – With VUEM they have a solution that will offer them the ability to use the context of the user (which they have already with the HDX client properties) and provide the user with a good environment that changes as their workspace changes. Citrix will offer the solution with the Enterprise and Platinum license.


Microsoft on the other hand does nothing, they still got their roaming profiles, mandatory profiles and UE-V. Personally I think Microsoft is far far behind on the others and perhaps not interested in doing more in this market. Perhaps a good thing for some of the other vendors not acquired yet…. more about that later on.

State of the market

So there we are, september 2016.  Citrix and VMware have made sure they have a User Environment Management solution, AppSense has found a partner to compete in the market. I make a little exception here, I still see AppSense/LANDESK as an independent vendor as LANDESK does not compete in the SBC/VDI market.

  • So where do we stand now?
  • Who are there and what do they offer for customers?
  • Why would you choose them over what Citrix, VMware or Microsoft is offering

Who are the vendors in the End User Computing market that are in the User Environment Management business?  The following list gives an overview of the vendors I took into account;

  • Microsoft
  • Citrix
  • VMware
  • RES
  • Liquidware Labs
  • LANDESK AppSense

There are a couple more but I think these are the ones we see and hear most about..seeing more about Tricerat lately but I’m leaving them out for now, sorry guys.

The question I had for myself was where does it leave the three mentioned earlier in this market, is there market enough or did they become a point solution? I think this is a valid question as the risk is that acquisitions and integrations doen right will make a third party solution obsolete. Let’s take a look.

I think we need to break down the offering in a few smaller parts, we have;Market

  • Profile management
  • User Environment Management  – context awareness etc
  • Device management
  • Application management
  • Security management
  • Management capabilities for support

Of course these days vendors tend to have suites instead of point solutions, I will take that into account also at the end. First let’s look at it from a functionality perspective.

Profile management

So if we look at profile management all vendors offer profile management. Microsoft however is I think the one that is the least advanced one in offering any profile management. They are a little bit stuck in the 90s and fail to really innovate here.

RES, Liquidware Labs and LANDESK AppSense will see the biggest market potential with customer that have a Microsoft-only environment.

Citrix didn’t acquire Norskale to manage profiles, Citrix User Profile Management will still be used to manage the user profile. So from a profile management perspective this is also still a market open for third party products. Depending on how Citrix will integrate Norskale VUEM this might be a target for RES, Liquidware Labs and LANDESK AppSense.

VMware acquired Immido and created VMware UEM. They licensed it in the Enterprise license for Horizon. From that perspective the third party solutions like RES, Liquidware Labs and LANDESK AppSense are still in the game as many customers only need Standard or Advanced to do their business. A customer will do the math, is the third party a value add or is a higher license also doing the job.

Perhaps with profile management we should differentiate between doing profile management and doing profile management. Microsoft can handle profile management but doesn’t handle advanced profile management that well. all other vendors have solutions to manage profiles the way we expect it today, save and restore settings as we want them, just in time in some way or an other. It will be a battle between cost and features for profile management.

User Environment ManagementMarket

Some might argue that Microsoft is offering User Environment Management and they are but not context aware. What they offer is User Environment Management for basic user scenario’s. Group policies and Group Policy Preferences are very powerful but lack the context awareness you would expect in todays market.

Citrix and VMware both offer context aware User Environment Management with their acquisition. The products acquired weren’t the biggest vendors in the market so they might lack some features that others have. In the User Environment Management comparison white paper aka smackdown is a matrix with all the feature differences. These features will be used to compare products and determine which solution fits your environment. Customers will have a good look at the features to see if third party solution like RES, Liquidware Labs and LANDESK AppSense still has preference over the vendor offered solution. It will be a interesting battle but one not lost already.

I think that the Microsoft market is the easy market to conquer, the three vendors left will have an easier battle here as Microsoft offers the least functional UEM solution of all. For customers with either Citrix or VMware the battle will be around features, what can be managed and what can’t. The battle of course can be altered if we look at management a bit. RES for instance is very strong in the helpdesk/diagnostics area as their console offers very much functionality. Neither Citrix nor VMware offer this functionality, this could be a deal breaker.

Device managementMarket

Device management has been the market for Microsoft and LANDESK and several others (but not in my view). VMware however offering a wide range of functionality never really touched the device market until they got their hands on AirWatch and Mirage. Still if you think about it today device management is not something you think of when talking about VMware. Microsoft is the first one that comes to mind. Citrix has no device management at all and is not, as far as I know, looking in that market. Of course with their XenMobile offering they have the ability to offer some sort of device management.

Depending on what VMware will do and how they will integrate all their acquisitions into one solution they might become the biggest threat to Microsoft. LANDESK with AppSense will be the second one to battle both Microsoft and VMware. RES however with their RES One Automation and Service store do offer device management but only after the operating system has been installed (there are ways to integrate with Microsoft solutions to work around it). Liquidware Labs does not play in the device management market, they don’t offer a solution for this.

When we look at device management as deploying devices and managing them, only Microsoft, LANDESK will compete directly, VMware can also compete but the uncertainty about Mirage makes it hard to see if they are a real market player.

So if we look at this market I think that Microsoft and LANDESK AppSense will be the ones dictating the market. Perhaps VMware will be developing further and enter this market but they need to do more to become any kind of threat. The others are not in the market for real and no threat to Microsoft or LANDESK AppSense.

Application management


If we look at application management as deploying and distributing application we enter a broad field of functionality. Citrix has been king here with offering XenApp published applications. VMware has entered that market a bit back and is still developing there, they are catching up with Citrix and have introduced more features last VMworld. No other vendor is really playing in this market, Microsoft of course is a player but compared to Citrix or VMware they are a minority. RES, Liquidware Labs and LANDESK AppSense are not playing in this market. Of course they offer advanced solutions to manage the published applications. They are able to manage the application settings and with their User Environment Management solution offer something very interesting.

Citrix and VMware have a solution in their hands now that can compete with RES, Liquidware Labs and LANDESK AppSense on managing applications. The battle will be fought between them on features that one is missing and others can offer. This will be a market in which the User Environment Management Comparison White paper aka Smackdown will play an important role. – need it right now, click here


If however we look at application management as being able to deploy applications the stakes are totally different. Citrix has no solution to deploy applications whereas VMware, Microsoft, RES and LANDESK AppSense have solutions available. All those vendors have automation tools that can be used to deploy applications. Liquidware Labs doesn’t really have an automation tool but they are offering an application layering solution. This part of the market is for me least interesting, without a User Environment Management solution and a profile solution you will become a point solution.

The four mentioned will fight a feature battle, Microsoft I think being in the lead at this moment as SCCM is delivered with Microsoft licenses.


So application management goes from publishing applications to deploying applications into application layering (which is a sort of application deployment). Application layering is the new kid on the block, not so new but it has been introduced to the big market since the last couple of years. Liquidware Labs together with Unidesk was one of the first vendors to introduce this. Citrix and VMware both acquired a product to also be able to deliver application layering.

The battle here is mainly fought between VMware, Liquidware Labs and Unidesk I think. Citrix is one vendor we don’t hear a lot from when it comes to layering. RES, LANDESK AppSense and Microsoft are no competing companies here, the first two only support application layered applications when used in managed environments. VMware did a good job acquiring CloudVolumes as it suddenly turned the attention to layering. Now it’s time to fix the little bugs that appear, if they manage there this has a chance. Customers are interested but they expect performance and a solid product.

Conclusion – application managementMarket

Looking at the application part of End User computing we see that there are different areas we talk about, you can’t say that one vendor is king in application management as that would give a wrong view on the real market. Depending on which area you talk about different vendors are playing the field.

Application deployment is really something were Microsoft, RES and LANDESK are playing and VMware is touching the market. Application publishing is the Citrix and VMware market where Microsoft is lightly touching it and the others are only supporting. Application layering is a market where Citrix and VMware are trying to become king whereas Unidesk and Liquidware Labs are vendors that have a long track record in this field. RES is not playing in this market and is only supporting.

Security management

Security management again is a area that many vendors in the User Environment Management comparison white paper aka Smackdown would like a check mark. Yes we do security management. Of course if you dig a bit deeper you will notice that one does security through policies and sets it once without checking the context when the environment changes while the other can change security during a session.

Microsoft of course has been king in this market, with Group Policies they can manage all your settings. Since the beginning of this century vendors like RES have developed solutions to manage security. If we look at the vendors we see that they have many more options to manage security settings where they take the users context into account. With Citrix and VMware now having a User Environment Management solution in hand they can manage security of the user session outside standard policies and with more granularity.

This part of the market will be the battle ground for the features also, everyone offers something and some perhaps a bit more advanced than other. depending on your requirements, licensing, setup some vendors are more preferable than others. I think we will see less and less of Microsoft ruling the market here as environments grow more complex and we need more granularity.

Support capabilities

The main differentiator between several vendors is the consoles and the support the can offer. If we look at VMware and Citrix they have a User Environment Management solution but if we look at the support side from the console they lack functionality. If we look at RES we see a very functional console that offers many features to support the end user with their sessions. VMware and Citrix don’t, yet, offer any console that helps you with managing the user session, with integration going on they might create something later on but right now it’s not there. I’m not familiar with all the consoles of the other products but if they offer any kind of support from the console they sure got a possibility to win the battle. It is all about the value that you can add for the customer.

Who wins this battle?

I hope that my article gave some insight in the battle field, there is not one clear winner. The winner of a battle will be determined by a number of factors

  • Licensing
  • Features
  • Architecture
  • Personal favorite

Citrix and VMware both offer the solutions in one of the higher licensing models, both have a tendency to only allow Enterprise or Platinum license customers to use the new solutions. We seen this with VMware and User Environment Management and Citrix and Their reverse application management application. This I think is the biggest plus for third party vendors. Many customers, at least here, pick the lower license versions as they offer enough features for them. With these licenses, standard for Horizon or Advanced for Citrix, you don’t get the new solutions.

RES, Liquidware Labs and LANDESK AppSense can offer the customers their solution as now they can compete on feature and price. the customer can determine whether the third party product is better priced than going for a higher license. The math will be wether e.g. Citrix Enterprise concurrent license is cheaper than Citrix Advanced+third party User Environment Management. Perhaps a different blog could be interesting. Same of course goes for VMware Horizon and third party solutions or any combination.

Time only will tell…


I wrote this article as I had a question that bothered me. I hope that I set out a nice overview that gives an insight in this market. It’s hard to get a good overview but I thought I try. The three vendors left out there need to define their value for the customer that is one thing that is for sure. that value has changed now that VMware and Citrix got their own solutions. Times are a changing and they need to reinvent their message. Do they have a value to add? I think they do, as said before the ones bought were the smaller ones of the pack. The features that made the other ones the biggest in the market still count. It’s a good time thinking and rediscovering yourself 🙂

..and last but not least.. customers will look at completeness of the product, as said before you need a suite to survive in this market, the one that will do that best will survive. Let’s wait and see, good times ahead for us IT guys.


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