At first I was actually looking for software that integrates with ConfigMgr 2012 and make a post of that, but when I started trying Workspace Manager I got hocked.
First about RES Software, they have a lot of different software for different technology. But much is focused on desktop management, automation & follow-me data with RES Hyperdrive.
They have a good reputation on them, so if you are curious like me take a look at their product portfolio http://www.ressoftware.com/products
But! Back to Workspace Manager (Previously known as Powerfuse)
What does it do ?
Well according to RES it does this.
Increase User Satisfaction
To be productive, your users need access to reliable applications. By centralizing management, and providing IT services more efficiently based on rules, you can provide users the best possible desktop experience and simplify your workload.
RES Workspace Manager provides you with the ability to manage IT more efficiently, so you are equipped to handle the demand placed on your IT department. That means less time and resources spent on help desk calls and more time to focus on being a strategic asset to your organization.
Enhance Control and Compliance
RES Workspace Manager enables the control needed to protect corporate data and applications while still giving users the flexibility they are asking for. Maximize IT security through compliance, auditing, and allowing or denying access to IT services and resources based on a user’s context — including identity, location, device and time of day.
What does it really do?
Its kind of a replacement for group policies in regards of changing the desktop for users. For instance if you want to deploy a printer, shared folder, different settings you would usually do this via group policy. But now can now move these settings into
Workspace Manager, which in my experience allows for faster logon for the users. You can also filter these settings based on location, ip address of the user. You also have the option to integrate Workspace Manager with other software like App-V, Thinapp, Xenapp, Remote Apps, ConfigMgr and other RES products like Automation Manager and VDX.
Well you get the picture, it has a lot of features I’m going to go trough some of them, but I suggest you take a look yourself if you want to know more –> http://www.ressoftware.com/products/res-workspace-manager
Relay Server (optional)
You have the Management Console which establishes a connection to the datastore, which stores all the configuration settings. When you install an agent it will get a copy of the cache from the datastore and store it locally (So incase of downtime on the datastore, the local agent will still function) Workspace Composer uses the data from the local cache to build the Workspace for the user.
So in terms of communication:
Agent –> Relay (Optional) –> Datastore port 1942.
The installation is pretty straight forward.
Just click Next –>
If this is your first setup choose “Set up a new enviroment”
Enter the SQL server info here.
Name for DB, Workspacemanager is the default name.
Here you specify if you wish to use SQL server authentication or Windows Authentication. I always recommend Windows..
After I finished the install, I got this message. Stating that the Agent is running under local host, but since I choose Windows Authentication I need to change the default credentials for this service in order for it to function.
So here I located the RES Workspace Manager under services.msc and changed it from localhost to a domain user.
You might get a message that this user is now granted logon as a service, just click OK.
After this is done and you open the RES console for the first time you will get this wizard.
What this basically does it generate some recommended configuration and examples.
After the configuration is done, RES comes with a TODO next list, pretty nifty.
So this is the Console in all its glory. And yes you can push the big colored buttons
As you can see the console is pretty similar to other system center products.
The Console is split up to 5 categories.
User Context (This is very you specify and group machine objects based on loads of different settings, here you also can specify it to integrate RES with AD, Novell etc)
Composition (Here you specify how the Workspace is going to work, what functions are enabled, what printers that get connected, and shared folders etc)
Security (Here you specify what applications users are allowed to use, policies on removable folders, firewall settings, browser settings etc)
Diagnostics (Here you can view audit logs, agent overview, error & workspace analysis)
Administration (Here you can alter who has access to what? Overview of the agents & the relay server)
Of course there are other menus under the action pane, but these I mentioned above are the main ones.
First of ill show you how to integrate ConfigMgr 2012 with Workspace Manager, with this you can deploy software via RES.
Click the Setup button on the top, and click Microsoft System Center.
Mark the “Enable System Center ConfigMgr Integration”
You have to specify a MP if you don’t already have an agent installed on the server.
Enter the credentials and click “Test now”
and as I said before It has support for a lot of other software.
Now lest go back to the Composition Menu.
As you can see we have a lot of different settings we can alter here. Now we can specify a setting for a group of computers or we can specify settings for users.
Now for the purpose of this post, ill just change the layout of the desktop and connect a shared folder.
I go into Files and Folders –> Drive And Port Mappings –>
If I go into Workspace Control, I allow this setting to get applied on all my computers, and Access control is restricted to my user CLOUD\Administrator.
Then click OK, next we change the default shell for this user. Go into Desktop and click Shell –> and choose “Use RES Workspace Manager Shell as the default shell” then click OK.
Something I forgot to do is to install Workspace Manager on another client. In my case I have a windows 7 client called Hulk.
It is basically the same installation we did before but we just choose “Connect to an existing environment” here.
When you have installed the software, you can see that the agent will appear under administration –> Agents.
You also have to change the “Run Workspace Composer to Automatic”
This setting will make the workspace composer start each time a user logs on.
Now if you log onto the other computer, you can see that the RES service fires up and start composing the workspace.
As you can see we now have a different Shell and the shared folder appeared.
Now I have only touched the surface for this product, but I can say that these settings I changed went a lot faster then if I would use group policy.
And you have a lot more flexibility here when regarding to filtering, where in Group Policy you have more limited functionality.
And with the integration functions you have a lot of possibilities available. I can definitely see using this product on a RDS server where you want to restrict the use of applications to those users who actually have access and not.