Coretek Services Reboot Manager, Pt. 1

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 June 24th, 2015|Uncategorized|

At Coretek Services, we have been successfully implementing Virtual Desktop environments since 2008.

A continuous request we receive from our customers is the ability to require a more granular approach to managing reboots and end-user and administrative notifications for reboots.  We originally attempted to script reboot management via PowerShell and had varying levels of success.  We ultimately decided to go our own way; and the end result was the Coretek Services Reboot Manager – now part of the Virtual Desktop Enhancement Suite (VDES).

When working with Virtual Desktop infrastructures – be it VMware Horizon, XenDesktop, or using XenApp to presented desktops or applications – one of the major challenges is the ability to reboot the operating systems with minimal impact to the end-users.  But in environments which have a 24×7 user load, XenApp presented desktops are particularly difficult to drain users and schedule reboots without impacting the users or manual intervention by the administrator. 

Typically, in XenDesktop infrastructures, the DHCP lease times are relatively low.  With a PVS delivered XenDesktop image, this can create a problem with the DHCP conflict detections attempts if this not enabled (http://support.citrix.com/article/CTX135938), since the PVS delivered image will not request a DHCP lease extension.   

Let’s take a look at the XenApp 6.5 Reboot Behavior policies:

The Reboot logon disable time policy provides a maximum of a 60 minute window before a server reboots.  In an environment with users on the servers 24×7, this is inconvenient for the users and disrupts their workflow.  Ideally, you would want to put the server into drain mode to cover an entire shift as to not disrupt the users.

The Reboot warning interval policy can trigger a warning to the users every 1, 3, 5, 10 or 15 minutes.  If the maximum amount of time the server remains in drain mode is 60 minutes, this may not be an issue.  However, if you want to allow the server to persist in drain mode for a longer period of time, a notification every 15 minutes would be quite annoying for the users.

Coretek Services has developed our Reboot Manager tool, a part of our Virtual Desktop Enhancement Suite (VDES), to offer the optimal flexibility for creating and managing the reboot processes for your XenApp and Virtual Desktop environments.  We have designed the Reboot Manager to allow administrators to put servers into a drain mode for up to a 24 hour window. 

Additionally, we allow for notifications to begin at a manually specified time before the servers reboot.  This enables users in a 24×7 environment to reconnect to their existing session for an entire shift and allows the disconnect timers to log users off a server gracefully prior to a reboot.  Users will be drained from the server via attrition as opposed to be forced to log off manually.

In our next post: We dive into the Coretek VDES Reboot Manager Console, and walk through some of the powerful scheduling settings.  See you then!

CORETEK SERVICES AWARDED NUTANIX VERTICAL PARTNER OF THE YEAR FOR 2015

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 June 16th, 2015|News|

Farmington Hills, MI – June 16, 2015  Coretek Services, a leader in information technology consulting, today announced that it had been awarded the Nutanix Vertical Partner of the Year award for 2015.  Coretek delivers an unparalleled end user computing experience while optimizing clinical VDI workflow using Nutanix in the Healthcare market that has resulted in key wins nationwide.  The award was presented at the Nutanix .NOW conference on June 11, 2015 in Miami Beach, FL.

“Coretek is proud to have been an early adopter of hyperconverged infrastructure solutions.  Nutanix has proven to be a key component in optimizing our clinical VDI solution.  We’re excited to build on our success in healthcare by building on our next generation datacenter solutions,” said Ron Lisch, Coretek Services’ Chief Executive Officer.

A STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO ADDRESS POOR END USER EXPERIENCE

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 June 8th, 2015|News|

June 8th, 2015 – So you’ve figured out your problem: Your end users are unhappy, and not without reason. Perhaps they are frustrated with the number of clicks it takes to enter patient data, with how much lag time there is when accessing multiple applications, or with clinical workstations and devices are inconsistent. In fact, you have heard them voice their opinion more than once about icons moving and not being able to find their app. And if it’s all of these, you’re probably pretty overwhelmed, and the lost revenue and dissatisfied patients are hard to ignore. Whew! Where do you start?

You can start right here, with this step-by-step guide to address poor end user experience in virtual clinical environments. Improved clinician productivity and patient satisfaction are right around the corner.

Step 1: Analyze your clinical workflow.

Start with a thorough analysis of your clinicians’ workflow. This is the dirty work – it means you need to get in the trenches with your users and see how they use (or don’t use) the technology. The reality is that your IT team is probably too involved in the nitty-gritty to see this clearly, so this analysis is most easily done by an independent third party. By analyzing your clinical workflow, you’ll figure out how technology is either an enabler or a blockade to productivity and patient care.

Step 2: Find out where your holes are.

After you dig in and understand your clinical workflow, this next step is pretty clear. Where are your loopholes? Find out exactly where your users are circumventing the system. Are they sharing passwords or avoiding using certain applications altogether? Your clinicians will do whatever it takes to get their job done, including workarounds that can introduce security violations into the system (at worst) and create major inefficiencies (at best).

Step 3: Rank inconsistencies by criticality.

Which of these loopholes that you’ve discovered is the most urgent? Of course, you’ll want to address all of them eventually, but first you need to prioritize. Consider what is most important to your organization – these inconsistencies could be related to security, technology, policies, or processes. Create a list so you know what to attack first.

Step 4: Create a game plan to fix it.

Your plan should leverage new technology to create the biggest bang for the buck.  What will most immediately address your most glaring security and productivity loopholes? A good technology company will help you put together a game plan, and execute it.

Step 5: Don’t lose focus — keep your eye on the ball.

One last thing: Once you’ve been through this process, you can avoid having to do it all over again by asking for feedback from your end users on a continual basis. Set up an internal forum of your end users to discuss how they’re doing once a month. You’ll be able to address any issues that come up before they become multi-headed monsters, and your clinicians will be delighted to have the opportunity to provide real time feedback that allows them to be better at their jobs.

The process in action: Munson Healthcare

Munson Healthcare in Traverse City, Michigan, had been growing fast, and had a hodgepodge of applications and technology to show for it. A clinical workflow analysis showed that their 3,600 clinicians had to log in to up to 12 different applications, each with different passwords, every time they saw a patient. Lag time and redundancy was a hindrance to productivity, and so the first priority was to create a virtual infrastructure that would meet user needs and eliminate these inefficiencies.

The Munson team conducted use case interviews with everyone from physicians to social workers, which allowed them to create six or seven key user environments and one standardized desktop that could be configured for those different user groups.Ultimately, Munson’s project IT team worked with Coretek to design and implement a highly flexible, virtual desktop system.

The results? Munson was able to provide a fully de-coupled virtualized desktop, user, and application delivery environment that could be quickly (5-15 seconds) accessed and roam seamlessly between devices. Three months after deployment, Munson’s clinician satisfaction rate, which had been at an abysmal 20%, skyrocketed to 80%. Users who didn’t have access to the virtual desktop were requesting it.

Problem solved: happy end users, satisfied patients, and a more nimble and efficient organization.

And you can get started right now.

3 INDICATORS OF LEGACY DRAG DURING TIMES OF BUSINESS GROWTH

2017-07-27T00:01:00+00:00 June 8th, 2015|News|

June 8, 2015 – In times of growth, companies have a lot to deal with when it comes to utilizing – and expanding – their current legacy technology architecture (often referred to as “Legacy”). First of all, these legacy systems were often not designed for new growth, but rather a hodgepodge of different technologies more tactically focused on putting out immediate fires than part of a thought-out long-term strategy. Secondarily, these legacy technologies typically weren’t designed by current IT leadership, but instead inherited in whatever composite configuration they’ve morphed into (they work, but have a “Rube Goldberg” feel).

At Coretek, we call this aged, evolved, complex situation “the legacy drag”. This is when you have a lot of moving IT parts, all very complex, that don’t exactly play well together, and definitely don’t give you the flexibility you need to provide strategic technological advancements. When your company is experiencing business growth, legacy drag can become just that – a huge drag. These layered, complicated systems can break frequently and require most of your man hours just to keep them running. At a time when your strategic expertise is most needed, you’re IT department is too busy maintaining the old system.

To help, we’ve put together a list of 3 Indicators of Legacy Drag during Times of Business Growth:

1.     Your current technology architecture is a significant barrier to making advancements.

This isn’t actually a huge shocker, as you are surely very well versed in the layers of technology you’re currently supporting. But it can be shocking how difficult the convolution of these systems can make growth management. Older technologies that have outlived usefulness and are no longer supported (because the company who built the original technology doesn’t even exist anymore) can’t adapt to new functionality. Even worse, there’s nothing to replace them with. Now what?

Take a look of all of the technologies you are currently utilizing and divide them in 3 categories: optional & replaceable, standard business functions– i.e. payroll, email, etc., and any technologies that provide a competitive advantage. Then, get rid of the disposable, outsource (with SaaS) what you can, and focus on the technologies that really push your company ahead of the rest.

2.     Your legacy system costs a ton to upgrade.

Most business growth requires a technological purchase of some kind. This could be new user hardware, expanded storage and network space, an upgrade to a critical business application, or the purchase of a brand new system needed to provide your company with the IT capabilities it now requires.

What you really need to consider is how expensive it will be to add to your traditional legacy system versus how expensive it will be to consolidate and upgrade to a more high-functioning, suitable IT solution. More times than not, streamlining and upgrading to a more future-favorable system provides major benefits – both financially and strategically.

3.     Upgrading your legacy system takes forever.

Even if you’re looking for a quick fix, upgrading your legacy system will likely require a lengthy process of determining the correct path for adjusting to growth needs, ordering whatever hardware, software, or space that’s required, installation of said elements, and then onboarding of these elements into everyday business operations. All said and done, that can take a very long time.

There are faster and simpler solutions available. For example, virtualizing and centralizing your desktops or moving standard functions to cloud based applications can take as little as a few months to get up and running, and give you long-term benefits. They make future upgrades and additions that much easier, creating business and IT agility. Downtime becomes almost nil, and the day-today grunt work for your IT staff will be greatly diminished, freeing them up to work on more strategic projects. .

Legacy drag can really bring your company down during times of business growth. But it doesn’t have to. Technology is always advancing. That’s probably why you went into this field in the first place. It’s exciting and cutting edge, full of new possibilities. By making strategic upgrade decisions that are forward thinking and prepared to embrace new technological opportunities, you’ll keep your company positioned to not only handle growth today, but tomorrow, next year, and for years to come.