Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity, a quick look


Liquidware Labs Profile Unity

There are many User Environment Management solutions on the market these days, some large and some pretty darn small. Most of us have a favorite one that we recommend to all our customers. I’ve been working with some in the past years and thought I have to try one that is not that known yet in the Netherlands.
This blog will give you a quick look at Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity because I think they offer some neat features and maintain simple management while doing that.

Abbrivations

To prevent me from having to type defenitions over and over, here’s a short list of what I’ll be using;
  • UEM = User Environment Management
  • LWL = Liquidware Labs

ProfileUnity

As said before there are a few big vendors out there that offer a suite of functionality for UEM. They offer composition, management, and security in one big suite. Some customers need them all some don’t, LWL ProfileUnity offers Composition and management in their product.

The console

Let’s start with the basics, the console. After you installed ProfileUnity on a management server you can access it from a web-browser. Looking at the console we notice four different menu options on the left side.
This is all you need to figure out to be able to handle this product, I can’t stress it enough but we need products that are easy to use. Not all of us are IT nerds, some just want to manage a environment without a degree. As you can see there are four menu options.
  • Configuration management
  • Filter management
  • Portability management
  • Inventory
Three out of four are no-brainers, because configuration manager will do the composition and filter management will make sure the configuration applies to the correct set of computers. Portability management however is a bit different, the name doesn’t ring a bell with me either instantly. Portability management is like Zero profiling from RES Workspace Manager, it’s the replacement of Roaming profiles. If you still use Roaming profiles you need to take a look at this, you gotta get away from Roaming profiles, make your life easier and relief your users with that burden.
When we create a new configuration it looks like the screen you see below. From within this configuration you can set everything a user will need on his desktop and more…
Let’s look at folder redirection as an example.
As you can see there are many Shell folders available to be redirected. The filter shown here is the filter on which you define if the folder redirection is applied.
Another option is to add things to INI files, which I think is pretty cool. With this option you can write a value to an INI file, delete a value or delete a whole section.
These are just two thing from the console that give you an idea of the way they do things. As you might have noticed there are two options in the configuration that are not found in most other products, FlexApps UIA en FlexApps DIA.
I won’t go into this a lot because that will be a blog on it’s own but this allows your users to install application they like. After they log off and log back on the application will be available instantly. No need for a persistent desktop, users van work with non-persistent desktops and thus saving lots of disk space.
There are two ways of handling this, either the administrator packages an application on a VHD and provides that VHD to several users or users are assigned a VHD where they can install their own applications in. The FlexApp DIA option is where the administrator installed the application and assigned it, the FlexApp UIA is the user based version.
Below is a screenshot of the UIA option, When I as a user start an Executable on my desktop, FlexApps detects that and kicks off a interception to capture the installation.
From the management console we have provided this user with a VHD that is available to capture the installation on.

 When we look at the program files folder you’ll notice that there are shortcut links next to the folder name (yeah I know I installed a different application above). The folder is actually on a redirected disk but shown as a local application in Windows.

 The FlexApp DIA option is where the administrator creates a packages from a central packaging console and publishes this to several users. Below is a screen shot where you can see that I’ve create two packages and they are available to be published to users from the console.

I think both option are truly well thought of options, user installed applications is a question I get from time to time. Most other solutions don’t have a focus on this or lack the functionality. Nice to see LWL has their focus on this.
That’s enough about that part of the console, I think you have an idea and I would say try it out.. I think you’ll like it. One last thing perhaps is that the configuration that you created and that you want to deploy to your users will be stored in the NETLOGON. When a users logs on the configuration is read from there, no agents no nothing, how easy can life be.

Filter managment

Let’s take a short look at filter management, how can you make sure those settings are applied to the correct users or computers. Well LWL has done a bit of your job already, they pre-created most common option on forehand. 
When we open one of these, Windows 7, we’ll see what kind of option you can base you filter on.
As you can see there are many options to choose from, from IP address to group membership. All the rules are put together with AND and OR rules that you define to make the rule fit your needs.
The rule that you create here will be available in the configuration area to be used to deploy settings to your users. there as some rules created by LWL already that you might want to tune but you can also create new ones that will suit you needs.

Portability

This is the last part I’ll be describing, inventory is one thing I haven’t looked at long enough to write about.
Portability is about user settings, user settings like they used to be saved in roaming profiles.
Like with the filters, LWL have provided a lot a standard settings already easing your life as an administrator or consultant.
Let’s open one and look at it.
I’ve opened the portability ruleset for Certificates, always a nice one.
As you can see in the screenshot below three registry trees are being merged and one is excluded. No files are being saved or replaced. 
With certificates we only had some registry trees to be merged and saved, with Windows appearance we also save some files. As you can see the user settings option is LWL ProfileUnity is a very easy and powerful way to save and restore user settings. Will it take some time to figure out those freaky in house application? Sure it will but in the end it’s worth it.

Administration

Ok one last thing to show you, the administrator part for every product needs administration.
Most of this you have set already during the installation but perhaps you want to change things or deploy the client tools to the NETLOGON again.
First thing to show you is that you can add users to allow them to work with the console.

Also you can define the domian you user to authenticate the user who logs on to the console from.

If you encounter issues you can set the log level to debug or fatal.

There is a option to download the client tools and the packaging console to create packages for the FlexApp DIA. Deploy this tool and create your packages on a VHD disk. distribute them to your users as an alternative to application virtualization.

Conclusion

I hope you have an idea of Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity, it’s an easy to manage easy to deploy User Environment Management solution. It provides all the features needed for UEM, not all that some suites offer but perhaps more then enough for you organization or customers. 
Check them out and see for yourself..

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