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Author of the Resource Posted on by Jake Harding in VDI, Student Experience, BYOD

Delivering software with Parallels RAS and AppsAnywhere [Webinar Recording]

AppsAnywhere integrates with a series of powerful technologies and solutions, one of which being Parallels RAS. Remote Application Server (RAS) is something of a hybrid technology, bridging the gap between VDI and RDSH, and is excellent when it comes to delivering Windows apps to non-Windows devices.

In this webinar, Phil Spitze discusses the benefits and use cases of using AppsAnywhere and Parallels RAS to deliver to non-Windows devices. Phil also covers some of the technical components and processes running behind the scenes that make this awesome pairing of technology work as well as general considerations, how-to's and best practices of cross-platform software delivery in higher education.


Webinar recording


Webinar Transcription

Phil Spitze: 

All righty, we're going to go ahead and get started. So thanks everybody for joining. I do want to note that the webinar today is being recorded and a sharing link will be distributed after the processing has been completed. And we will invite you to share that around the office with any of your co-workers who weren't able to attend today. Great. Well, thanks so much for joining today. I am delighted to see so many familiar names on the roster here. Most of you already know me, but for the purpose of the recorded version, my name is Phil Spitze, and I'm the Account Management Director for North America here at Software2.

My goal is to ensure that our customers are satisfied and successful with their use of our entire AppsAnywhere solution. Today, what I'd like to do is cover some of the benefits that we offer with our integration with Parallels RAS. I'll also highlight a few use cases that you might be faced with where we can help. And then finally at the end I will answer questions, so please feel free to submit those via the go to meeting questions panel. I'm also going to launch a poll that you will see over on the panel as well, and if you could just take a second, it's a one question poll, just for us to collect a little bit of data. All right, so let's get going.

We'll launch the poll first. Go ahead and submit that and I will get my screenshare going. Just another second here on the poll, and then I can share my screen. All right. Great. Thanks everybody for that. All right. Here we go. So, Parallels RAS. This is a technology that we really love. It comes with a variety of benefits that most customers can take advantage of, and I'm going to run through those. RAS stands for remote application server, and this is a technology where applications are being run on a backend server and then served via window down to the end user's device.

So it's slightly different than what you might be familiar with in terms of Cloudpaging, where that software is running locally. In this case, it would be running on a backend server. The most obvious use case that we often talk about and we talk with customers about is the ability to deliver Windows based applications to non-Windows devices. And that can be Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chromebooks, pretty much any type of device. And often what we're seeing is when our customers are starting to consider how to engage and support the BYOD devices, that's where we're seeing more and more of the non-Windows machines.

I think here in North America where it's slightly different than in the UK and Europe, Mac is seen as almost like a fashion symbol. So, students want to have the latest and greatest and the most hip laptop on campus, and so it tends to be a Mac. Also though, we are starting to see more and more students wanting to be more mobile without having to carry around a backpack with laptops. So now we're starting to hear about tablets, and whether those are Microsoft Surface tablets or iOS or Android, et cetera. We're getting more and more engagement with those. So Parallels RAS is a great way to support those devices. Again, the software is running on the backend, a Windows based server, so it's running as you would normally expect it to. And then a window is being presented out to the actual end device.

The way that we achieved that is with a very unique and tight integration with AppsAnywhere in Cloudpaging. So the workflow is like this. As a device comes into the AppsAnywhere front end app store, as you know, we do some detection. We gather some information about who the user is, what kind of device they're on, where they might be located, are they on campus or off campus. And from those bits of info, the administrators of AppsAnywhere can make some decisions about how software is going to be delivered. So, the most common use case is if we detect that it's a Windows device, then we're going to deliver that software with Cloudpaging. This still tends to be the most efficient way to deliver Windows software to Windows devices, and you get all of the benefits of Cloudpaging and kind of that virtualized application layer.

However, if we detect that a non-Windows device has come into the app store, then we're going to look to invoke a Parallel session. However, because of the integration we've built, you can reuse your same existing Cloupaging packages, and we'll deliver those over to the Parallels RAS servers and then present that session to the end device. And by doing this you gain the ability to manage still a single environment, and that is the applications within Cloudpaging. You don't have to worry about different versions for different OS's, different delivery mechanisms, et cetera. This is going to simplify just the overall management and admin time required to be able to support not only Windows devices, but really all devices that you might see coming to campus.

We'll go a little bit further as well, and some other use cases that you might not have come across yet, but certainly maybe looming in the future is how to prevent or how to grant access to a license server. Most universities and schools that I talk with have no interest at al at exposing a license server out to the world. And when you're talking with BYOD, a lot of those users want to be off campus, whether it's in a residence hall or at a Starbucks or somewhere on vacation. If they're doing a semester abroad, they still need access to the software, but if that software requires a license server that's on campus, they may be stuck. But with Parallels RAS, you can take advantage of their secure tunneling technology and you can let them access a license server that you still retain on campus and in a protected network.

Another use case is when you start looking at deploying AppsAnywhere and Cloudpaging to your faculty and staff. On that side of the house, there are going to be some applications that are considered sensitive because they're dealing with personal private information. So here, you can use Parallels RAS as a way to secure those applications and really lock down the use. Not only to users, but to devices, and even to locking down the data that the applications use. Parallels RAS has a really nice robust policy based security mechanism, and that is going to give you the flexibility to really kind of lock down any applications that are student information or budgetary, et cetera.

Another use case, and this is a little bit of a fine line, but we've heard some success in the past from our customers. A lot of the vendor licensing talks about or has clauses in language in the contract that says that the software must be installed and run on campus owned equipment. Well, if this is delivered by a Parallels RAS, then that box is checked and is ticked. So the software is going to be run and installed on campus owned equipment, because it's going to be your Parallels RAS servers. The end users may be off campus connecting in, but again, it's a fine line. But most of our customers have said that they feel successful in taking advantage of this.

And then the final use case, which is kind of a edge case, but Parallels RAS does offer a full VDI solution, and it's included with whatever licenses you buy from us. There's nothing extra that's required. It can run on the same servers that we've already configured for you, or that we would configure for you. It's a great solution. Again, it tends to be a little bit of an edge case, but I was just working with a school a couple of weeks ago where they had some software that had been built in house and it required a very, very specific desktop configuration. Map drives, GPOs, et cetera, that were required in order for the software to even start and launch. But by looking at VDI, there may only be a dozen users of the software. They can now create at a very low cost that configured locked down environment, and enable that software to continue to run while they engage in looking at a replacement down the road.

So very quickly, I just want to talk about the infrastructure that Parallels RAS requires to get started. Typically we start customers off at about 50 users. You can obviously go higher. It's just six additional servers. So we've got a pair of secure gateways, and these are effectively the servers that act as a broker. They're going to direct incoming requests to one of the four RDSH servers on the back end. And we usually start customers off with four RDSH servers. It should be plenty of horsepower. What's wonderful about Parallels RAS in the way that they do licensing is you can scale up by adding CPU and RAM. So if you've got some heavier weight applications, more demanding applications, you can add CPU and RAM to the RDSH servers. But you can also scale out and you can add additional boxes, additional servers to increase capacity if you need it.

And all of this is just automatically included with the license. It's a concurrent user license, so you just need to count the number of users that you expect to need to serve by that number of licenses, and you get all of the benefits that I've covered for free. So you get VDI, the secure gateways, the ability to add CPU, the ability to add RAM, the ability to add just full additional servers. All of that is covered in licensing. And when you are buying from us at Software2, we're going to roll the management of the server side components of Parallels RAS into the managed servers that you already have from us for AppsAnywhere and Cloudpaging. So it becomes a very, very low touch solution that you can take advantage of, and start working on serving your non-Windows devices, start addressing some of the additional use cases that I mentioned before.

So we'll jump into a quick demo, and then I will take questions and then we will be done. Short and sweet. So I'm going to just log into our demo portal as a BYOD user. Again, as most of you know, if we were on campus and I was on a domain drawing machine, this would be configured for a single sign on. And there we go. Validation is all successful. So what I'll show you from the Windows side, and I'll just scroll to the bottom here and highlight based on our intelligent app store, it knows that I'm running on Windows 10. I'm going to just highlight the fact that we can run something like Pac-Man, although it could be any software via a browser. So this you can see here is coming in via Parallels with HTML5.

So, Parallels offers two different ways for your end users to be able to connect to their session. It can be via a client, which gives them a little bit more functionality and slightly rich feature set. But for the tablets and the Chromebooks and even just lower power devices coming in via a browser, an HTML5 connection or clientless connection might be the way to go. I'm going to launch this, you'll see another tab here open.

What it's going to happen is it's going to take the existing Windows version of Pac-Man that we have captured with Cloudpaging, and it's going to serve that up to me here in the browser tab. There we go. And you can say just for the purpose of the demo, we've got the Cloudpaging player here. So now this is just going to behave as if it were locally installed anywhere in this. I could have connected with any device here. So obviously I'm not great at the game anymore because I'm not 12. But regardless, that's how it works. So we'll kill that, and what I'm going to try to do now is I'm going to stop sharing briefly and I'm going to switch over to my Mac, and we'll look at how to run some Windows software from a Mac. So, bear with me just a second here.

All right, so I am on my Mac. I'm back at the login screen so I'll go ahead and log in once again to the demo site. Now because I am on a Mac, which I'll show you here in a second, there are going to be quite a few less or fewer pieces of software available because the majority of what we have in our demo site is for Windows. But you can see down here I am on a High Sierra Mac. So in this case I'm going to launch Microsoft Visio. And as we know, there is no such thing as a Mac version of Visio from Microsoft. So we'll launch this, and there we go. We've got Visio running. It is behaving as though it's locally installed, it's just running within a window. And can go about just creating whatever Visio docs, et cetera that you might need, and you're off and running.

Saving is just a matter of pointing to the map folder that was created when I connected. So you'll see here, there are a folder ... I've just mapped my downloads folder, but this is on my local Mac. So that means the users aren't going to end up with orphaned files sitting out on a server somewhere. They'll be able to map their local folders. They'll be able to map USB drives. If they've got one drive or box.net or Google Drive installed, they'll be able to map those folders as well. So again, all the files will continue to stay local. I've already got a drawing one from the last time I did this, so we'll just overwrite it. And we'll notice it's a square and a circle. So what I'll do now just to kind of complete everything full circle, is I will exit out of Visio, and I will switch once again over to my Windows machine.

What I'll do from my Windows machine, I've just confirmed down here, Windows 10 again. Is I'll launch Visio, only this time it's because I'm on a Windows device, it's going to cloud page it. Okay. So it's going to go through the normal Cloudpaging process of pulling down the first five to 10% of the application that's needed. And then it will do what we call the virtual install, where it is loading all of the bits and pieces that it needs into the cache. And then once that's done, it will open Visio and it'll be running locally.

Now, I did save my test file to my Mac versus to OneDrive or some other cloud storage, so I won't be able to pull it back up again. The next time I do this, obviously I should set that up. But the idea is just that you've got the same version of Visio. It's coming in with a cloud paged package. So every user launching Visio, or any piece of software that you choose, whether it's cloud paged locally with AppsAnywhere in CloudPaging to a Windows device, or you access it via Parallels RAS, the users are going to be getting the same consistent experience. They're going to be getting the same version of the software. This can be hugely important for faculty who are teaching, where sometimes they find that the students are using a different version than what they expect to teach with, and then that can create confusion in the classroom. But by using Cloudpaging and pairing that with AppsAnywhere and with Parallels RAS, you can guarantee that it's going to be a consistent experience.

All right. So that looks like it's coming up here now. It's running a little bit slow from the UK today, but here we go. And it's complaining about my license, which is fine. We'll get that sorted out on our side. Nothing to worry about. But you get the idea. All right. So really that's it from in terms of the demo and just walking through the Parallels RAS solution and the integration, and some of the use cases. So I will open up for questions at this point. Please go ahead and let me know if there's anything that you have questions on, and we'll get going.

So the question here is around scaling to either 500 or 1000 concurrent users. So the scaling exercise can really be data-driven. One of the things that Parallels RAS includes is a reporting suite, so that you can actually look at what the usage is. You can look at how many sessions are coming in, you can look at how much RAM and CPU is being consumed. So we always suggest starting small, and then watching the metrics and growing as you need to. Licensing is very straightforward. It's just a cost per concurrent user. But then what we can do is if I go back to the architecture diagram here, what we typically target is for the average set of ... Let me share my screen here. What we typically target for the RDSH server count is 25 user sessions per box.

So just right out of the gate, you've got a little bit of room for growth here with the four servers that I'm showing on the diagram. We would work with you to work on scaling this appropriately. What we also find is that most schools in terms of a concurrent use case usually end up with no more than 5% of their total enrollment number for a concurrent use need. So, we see where folks often overestimate what they're going to need in terms of licenses. But it's typically less, so again, it's easier and it's less expensive to add capacity as you go versus overspending at the beginning and then having stuff [inaudible 00:24:19]. So, we can definitely help work on that should the need come up.

Oh, here's a good question. Does Parallels RAS support the Azure hypervisor with Windows Virtual Desktop? So underneath the covers, the Azure hypervisor is actually Hyper-V. It's an Azure cloud version of Hyper-V. And Windows Virtual Desktop is the upcoming service from Microsoft where you will be able to effectively deploy a VDI type environment on Azure. And what we are hearing from Parallels is that is in fact in the plan to be able to support the Windows Virtual Desktop and Hyper-V on Azure. Probably next year late is when we'll start seeing that. As it stands right now, Windows Virtual Desktop isn't yet fully available. It's still in public preview from Microsoft.

So Parallels hasn't done as much work as they would like to yet because they're just waiting to make sure that all the APIs have been finalized. But we are hearing that, yes, it will support that. And what that means is that you will be able to take advantage of some auto scaling technology that Parallels will build, so that you can add and remove RDSH servers based on demand. And when you're running in the cloud, that's a huge benefit because you typically are only paying for servers that are running. And by shutting off and deleting servers as they're no longer needed, then you're going to be able to save some money that way.

All right. Just another few seconds here. Any other questions? I think we're all mostly caught up. So, I'll just wrap up and if another question comes in we'll grab that one. But that really concludes it for today. Just a real quick hit, just to cover off some of the basics of Parallels RAS and how our integration works and what the benefits are, and some of the use cases that you might be faced with. So, I wanted to just share that all with you.

I'm going to be doing another webinar similar to this next month about our new packaging subscription service. So again, just another quick hit, share some quick info with everybody. As always, we do invite you to keep an eye on our website. We've got latest news and events that are always posted out there, and certainly, don't hesitate to contact me. I'll throw my contact info up here. Everybody should have this at this point, but yeah, certainly don't hesitate to reach out. If there are any other questions or if you want to get started with some Parallels RAS, just let me know. Otherwise, have a great rest of your day and thanks for joining. Talk to you soon.