Tag Archives: VDI

End-User Computing & Search Go Hand-In-Hand

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by Barry Murphy

Last week, John Patzakis here at X1 blogged about the VMworld 2014 event and how it has become the Comdex for enterprise IT.  I was at the show and it was very clear that end-users are the future of IT.  The trend has been talked about for quite some time and is commonly called the consumerization of IT.  The heat around that topic has tended to focus on devices and not as much on what is behind information access on those devices.  But, as BYOD takes off and mobility becomes increasingly important, enterprises care more and more about the flow and availability of information.  Why?  Because easy access to information is critical to the end-user acceptance of enterprise IT offerings; when users cannot quickly find what they are looking for, they reject what IT rolls out to them.  Without that end-user acceptance, there is no chance for a positive ROI on any IT project.

End-user experience is so key that VMware has named a division of its company “End User Computing.”  That EUC unit made several major acquisitions in the last year, including Airwatch and Desktone.  This is because technology providers need to win the battle with end-users.  For an example of a company that built its business on the backs of end-users and leveraged those relationships to bully its way into enterprise IT, look no further than Apple.  As VDI users have learned, it is critical to bake search requirements into virtual desktop deployments from the get-go in order to ensure an optimal user experience.  And, as Brian Katz points out in his blog, the same thing will hold true with mobile – usability will be key.  That is why we at X1 are so excited about the future.  X1’s user interface for search is second to none.  And, users actually rave about it.

In my days as an industry analyst, I rarely had technology users raving about the tools they were using.  And, I never ever had an enterprise search user tell me that their solution solved the challenge of finding information quickly.  The rabid users of X1 have been an eye opener for me.  In fact, an X1 customer recently polled its users and virtually every user said that X1 is easy to learn and use (no easy feat for a piece of enterprise software) and over 70% of users described their experience with X1 as very positive or positive.  Those numbers are unheard of in terms of technology satisfaction.

With what I’ve learned from my days as an analyst and in my time here at X1, I’ve come up with some ways to approach enterprise search in a way that is both IT and user-friendly.  We will share the knowledge in a webinar on October 9 at 1pm ET / 10am PT.  We’ve titled it, “Making Enterprise Search Actually Work by Putting User Experience First.”

In this “no-death-by-PowerPoint” webinar, attendees will not only learn, but actually see how to deploy enterprise search solutions in ways that make both end-users and IT departments happy.  This webinar will demonstrate both why and how to put end-user experience first.   Specifically, attendees will learn:

  • Why the human brain is the best analytical engine for business productivity search
  • How federation can save IT time, money, and headaches
  • How to best deploy search solutions in all IT infrastructures
  • How to achieve ROI on enterprise search in ways never seen in the past
  • That search can be like BASF – it can make many other technology deployments better, including VDI, SharePoint, and Enterprise Vault

I will be presenting on this webinar and will be joined by some special guests to be named later.  Come learn why search and end-user computing go hand-in-hand.

Register for the webinar here >

 

 

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Filed under Enterprise Search, Hybrid Search, Information Access, Information Management

Search as a Desktop Virtualization Enabler

Desktop_virtualizationby Barry Murphy

 

Too often, search is taken for granted.  When I first started doing research on eDiscovery in the cloud, the prevailing attitude was, “as long as information is searchable, eDiscovery is taken care of.”  Sadly, many organizations have learned the hard way that it is not that easy.  There is much more to search than meets the eye.  But, most organizations do not figure that out until it is too late – until search does not work in the desired manner or at the required speed.

eDiscovery is not the only area where search is overlooked and becomes an issue.  In fact, search is a critical function for today’s knowledge worker.  Despite the importance of information access, unified search of workers’ most critical assets (email, files, desktop content, and SharePoint) is not always a huge requirement of IT organizations.  It is to end-users, however, and that is one of the reasons that X1 has had such success with the Search 8 product – it has a user-friendly interface that provides simple, fast access to the information assets users need the most.

The lesson that I have taken away from being involved in the search market is that search as a standalone application may not seem sexy, but it provides a real return on investment.  It also allows organizations to ensure that investments in other technologies are optimized.  This fact can be seen especially in virtual desktop (VDI) environments.  Desktop virtualization promises many benefits: lower IT costs; streamlined administration of IT assets; and end-user flexibility in terms of accessing the desktop from anywhere.  Given the popularity of BYOD, the consumerization of IT, and the need for mobility to support telecommuting, VDI is becoming more and more important.

It is the little details of IT projects, however, that can have big impact on results.  Some organizations find that the cost savings anticipated from VDI are less than expected because of high disk resources necessary to support Windows indexing on the virtual desktop.  Or, best practice is followed and Windows indexing is turned off – and then users are unable to search for information on their desktops.  There are two possible outcomes from this, and both are bad:  either users are rendered unproductive because they cannot easily find information or they simply reject the virtual desktop and find ways around the system.

In order to ensure that VDI deployments meet expectations, organizations can build unified search into requirements early on.  At the very least, this will help to ensure that end-users are more receptive to the virtual desktop and allow them to remain productive.  Getting end-users to buy in is often half the battle when deploying new technology.  As I mentioned, though, search is often an afterthought – an issue that only comes up after a VDI deployment where end-users complain or reject the solution outright.  That is why it is important to make search a requirement early on.

When it comes to VDI environments, a good search solution must decouple the search UI from the indexing service.  Otherwise, indexing will require virtual desktop computing resources and cut into VDI cost savings.  The goal is to minimize the RAM usage and search client footprint on the virtual desktop.   It sounds simple, but traditional search solutions are not architected for this.  We at X1 are doing a webinar with Citrix on this very issue – enabling lightning-fast search in VDI environments.  The webinar is on April 10, 2014 at 1pm ET / 10am PT.  Please click here if you would like to join us to learn how to use search to enable optimization of desktop virtualization deployments.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Enterprise eDiscovery, Information Access

Federal Government Agencies Face Information Management Challenges, Too

by Barry Murphy

Many moons ago, one of my first projects as an analyst with Forrester Research was to find the answer to a seemingly simple question: what is the industry standard for storing new types of electronic information such as X-rays and other images?  The client was a government agency that needed to store these records long-term and anticipated potentially needing to produce them in court many years in the future.  fed image 2As such, the agency needed to know how to store and find these records.  The answer proved to be anything but simple – in reality, the answer was that there was no “standard” for storing this new type of content.  My investigation into the topic led me to find this new market called eDiscovery and the rest is history.

The experience was interesting because it was my first foray into working with the Federal government.  I went into the experience with the assumption that Federal agencies would somehow be more advanced in their information management efforts.  Records management, after all, was (and still is) very important in government.  But, government agencies are just like other organizations – struggling to keep up with exploding volumes of digital information, under the gun to respond to information requests (whether it is in response to Congressional inquiries, regulatory requests, or litigation), and dealing with the needs for more modern IT infrastructure elements like Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

The only difference between government agencies and other organizations is that agencies may be under even more stringent rules for complying with investigations and for dealing with digital information management.  President Obama’s Managing Government Records directive mandates that agencies manage electronic information as stringently as paper records have traditionally been managed.  Agencies are under even more of a microscope than corporations, yet face the same information management challenges.  Information assets are scattered across email, file systems, disparate SharePoint sites, and Cloud-based repositories.  In addition, some agencies adopt newer IT infrastructure elements such as virtualization and cloud computing to stay relevant.  For example, the Department of Energy deployed a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) in order to enable worker mobility (Source: Zurier, Steve. Agencies Deploy VDI with an Eye Toward BYOD. Fed Tech Magazine, March 18, 2013). VDI allows agencies to implement initiatives like BYOD while maintaining top-notch security.

Keeping up with modern IT infrastructure, while simultaneously responding to thousands of information requests each year – whether it is in response to Congressional inquiries, regulatory requests, or litigation – is a challenge.  Before assuming that government agencies have the process under control, consider this: according to Deloitte’s Seventh Annual Benchmarking Study of Electronic Discovery Practices for Government Agencies, only 59% of respondents believed their agencies were effective in deploying eDiscovery capabilities compared to 73% in the previous year (Source: Deloitte’s Seventh Annual Benchmarking Study of Electronic Discovery Practices for Government Agencies, Spring 2013).

Why the drop in confidence?  Part of the reason is that traditional search and eDiscovery products fail to effectively support agencies’ IT environments in a way that creates a true solution.  Rather, traditional products have agencies creating centralized eDiscovery labs that require copying information from various systems to a central eDiscovery location.  This is both time-consuming and expensive.  To learn how to address information management challenges in federal agencies, click here to download a whitepaper that outlines the critical problem, its legal compliance implications, and compelling solutions that help agencies develop built-in search and eDiscovery capabilities that reduce costs and improve operational productivity.

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Filed under Information Management, Records Management

The Post-PC Era Will End eDiscovery Collections as we Know It

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Updated 11/14/2013: Amazon Webs Services announced today a “game changing” cloud-based desktop virtualization offering.

“As of next month, no employees get a new PC, we are going all virtual and B.Y.O.D.” These words, spoken by one of our customers from one of the world’s largest financial institutions, should be disconcerting to anyone in the traditional eDiscovery collection business.  With well over 1000 computer forensics and eDiscovery services businesses in the US and Canada alone, ranging from small shops to large firms with hundreds of eDiscovery professionals on staff, the industry faces substantial disruption going forward. This is because most all of these firms thrive on full disk imaging, or otherwise manual collections, from the PCs and laptops issued to corporate employees, either as a substantial source of revenue, or a foundational first step that feeds into their processing and hosting business.

However, enterprises have entered a “post-PC world,” where desktop virtualization, cloud, social media, and mobile devices are supplanting the traditional PC infrastructure and “local” data storage. In fact, desktop virtualization, which will be about a six billion dollar market in 2016 according to industry researcher the 451 Group, is an ideal infrastructure to enable B.Y.O.D. as employees can have access to a virtual PC across a broad range of devices, from traditional PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets. However, in such a framework, all the employees’ data and applications are stored and managed centrally in a virtual environment.

In addition to enabling B.Y.O.D., a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) provides IT significant benefits through the ability to centrally manage user desktops, gaining efficiencies in costs and resources. VDI provides for simpler desktop provisioning, lower costs for deploying new applications, improved desktop-image management, and improved data integrity through centralized backup services. In addition to a reduction in both desktop operating costs and call support, there is also a reduction in the number and duration of downtime events.

However, finding content is difficult enough on a traditional desktop, but the issue is compounded with the virtualized variety. There are many compelling benefits to VDI, but the architecture does not facilitate or even enable traditional desktop search solutions or physical disk imaging for forensic examination. X1 Search 8 provides search capabilities across physical, virtual and cloud environments with results returned in a single pane. X1 was specifically architected to uniquely and seamlessly operate in virtual desktop environments, including popular Citrix solutions XenApp and XenDesktop.

To further explore the disruptive challenges and benefits of VDI, X1 is partnering with one of the nations’ top VDI consulting firms, Agile 360 in a November 17 webinar (register here) to outline these challenges and opportunities associated with search and information access in VDI environments. We hope you can attend to learn more about the disruptive changes in store for enterprise search and eDiscovery in the Post-PC enterprise.

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Filed under Cloud Data, Virtualized Environment

X1 Rises Again

Computerworld logo

Earlier this month Robert Mitchell at Computerworld proclaimed that X1 had reemerged in the world of search with X1 Search 8, the new release of our flagship and industry-leading X1 desktop search. (See: X1 Rises Again with Desktop Search 8, Virtual Edition). I think Computerworld is spot on and aptly describes the response and success of X1 Search 8. X1S8 (or “8”) is major advancement of X1 Search.  As mentioned on our recent webinar showcasing X1S8, I wanted to thank our hundreds of thousands of loyal and longtime X1 customers, plus many of the new customers joining us in recent weeks since our highly successful launch of 8.

Overall the response has been tremendous! Since the May 7 release, we have seen shattered sales records coupled with very exciting feedback from our customers, new and old. Based upon the feedback, three improvements to X1S8 are particularly resonating. One is the new and streamlined interface that, combined with a faster and more responsive product, provides an enhanced and highly intuitive user experience. Second, our business users from enterprises large and small are very happy with the built-in and integrated SharePoint support (see video here). And finally, the unique support of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) demonstrates that X1 is once again a cutting edge technology that supports our customers’ current as well as future requirements.

X1 has always been a great solution. In July 2010, Network World declared the previous version of X1 to be the leader in its class, selecting X1 as its Clear Choice winner ahead of competitors such as the native Windows Outlook search and Google desktop search. Perhaps not coincidentally, after Network World anointed X1, Google shortly thereafter announced the end of life for its desktop search. Additionally, with Windows 8, Microsoft is apparently moving away from integrated desktop search as the latest Windows OS no longer features a federated search option.

What this means is that X1 not only has risen again, but has a clear lead in the field of search as 8 is a major upgrade to our award-winning previous version. This is particularly true given the virtualization capabilities of X1S8, which we will now be rolling out to many large enterprises that previously could not support any desktop search within their VDI environment. We believe that eventually desktops will be hosted in the cloud, which will require a cloud-based virtual desktop architecture, which X1 already and uniquely supports. So X1 is ready for the cloud when our customers are.

Recently X1 has enjoyed the support of a number of investors who have enabled us to double down on our support of current customers and the development of next generation search and eDiscovery solutions to support enterprises large and small. This includes our enterprise eDiscovery strategy, but it also means channeling additional resources into our core X1 desktop search technology. Look for more innovations to support our loyal customer base including new mobile support, and search of hybrid cloud. And if you haven’t yet seen X1 Search 8, please take it for a spin with a free trial available at this link.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Virtualized Environment