VDI Performance Acceleration – Atlantis Computing’s ILIO

2017-07-27T00:01:11+00:00 June 21st, 2010|Uncategorized|

VDI platforms use shared storage located centrally for VDI desktop images. However, Windows operating systems were designed to operate with a low latency dedicated local disk for every desktop. The Microsoft Windows family of operating systems is dependent on performing input/output (IO) intensive tasks such as file layout optimization, background defragmentation, antivirus scanning and virtual memory paging. However, in a VDI environment, these tasks result in placing a heavy tax on shared storage infrastructure as each user, application and desktop compete for limited IO capacity (measured in input/output per second-IOPS). Without adequate storage IOPS, applications and virtual machines take longer to boot and applications respond sluggishly, leaving users frustrated.

Atlantis ILIO is a revolutionary approach to deploying VDI that makes the Windows operating system perform well without massive investments in storage infrastructure. Atlantis ILIO boosts VDI desktop performance by transparently offloading IO intensive Windows operations from VDI shared storage. ILIO terminates operating system and application traffic on the same rack as the VDI servers before traffic hits the storage fabric. The result is a 10x performance increase for VDI desktops, which translates into faster VM boot times, logon, and overall application performance. Atlantis ILIO also eliminates VDI IO bottlenecks caused by boot storms, logon storms and antivirus scanning.

Source: Atlantis Computing

Microsoft’s System Center Essentials 2010

2017-07-27T00:01:11+00:00 May 12th, 2010|Uncategorized|

Microsoft System Center Essentials 2010 will be Microsoft’s second release of an IT systems management product specifically designed for the midsized business. Based heavily on customer feedback, Essentials 2010 will offer integration of physical and virtual server management and monitoring into one product and one console. Essentials 2010:

  • Provide a unified solution with a single console for managing a broad range of tasks across your servers (virtual and physical), clients, hardware, software and IT services for a unified experience.
  • Enables you to proactively manage your IT environment, helping keep your system up-to-date with a solution that accelerates problem resolution and enables automation of system updates and data collection.
  • Is easier to deploy and maintain helping simplify complex management tasks for increased IT efficiency.

The following screen shows the Essentials 2010 console.

New Investments for Essentials 2010

Unified Experience

  • Integration of virtualization management, including live migration
  • Automated computer grouping
  • Server management limit increased to 50

Proactive Management

  • Automated management of updates and installation deadlines
  • Improved software distribution targeting
  • Dynamic importation of monitoring management packs

Increased Efficiency

  • Quick provisioning of new virtual machines
  • Easy server conversions from physical to virtual
  • Intelligent placement of virtual workloads

Windows 7 Migration – Using Dell’s KACE Appliance

2017-07-27T00:01:11+00:00 April 30th, 2010|Uncategorized|

Helping Provide Comprehensive Capabilities for Rapid and Reliable Migration

With the Windows 7 release now a reality, for many organizations the question is no longer whether to migrate, but how. As XP reaches end of life and Vista became merely a skipped step for most, the prospect of a full scale Windows 7 migration looms. Beyond the necessary tasks of actual Windows 7 rollout and preservation of user data, other migration challenges include identifying which machines can be upgraded, which applications are supported on Windows 7 and assuring that license tracking is not disrupted throughout the process. In addition, 83% of respondents in a recent Dell KACE survey stated that they plan to skip Vista and go directly to Windows 7. This strategy poses significant complications since Microsoft does not support in-place upgrades from Windows XP to Windows 7, and requires a fresh installation.

The Solution

Dell KACE Appliances help optimize the process of migrating to the Windows 7 operating system through easy to deploy and use appliances. The KACE appliance-based approach saves you time and money through a solution that helps facilitate tasks such as user state migration, operating system deployment and application distribution, helping speed the move to Windows 7 and minimizing end-user downtime. Upon successfully completing a Windows 7 migration, KACE appliances can assist to provide PC lifecycle management including patch and configuration management, providing even more potential savings.

Features of KACE Appliances helping support a successful Windows 7 migration include:

Windows 7 Migration
  • Windows user state migration can permit you to retain user-specific files and settings when installing Windows 7. You can migrate user states when installing an operating system and applications, helping minimize end-user downtime and reducing the risk of losing critical information.
  • Inventory assessment helps you check machines for Windows 7 readiness. The KACE Appliance discovers machines on your network and collects detailed hardware and software inventory. The appliance can then help assess which machines in a network are ready for a Windows 7 deployment. An innovative client to server communication protocol gathers inventory multiple times per day, helping ensure that your data is up to date.
  • K-imaging is a flexible file-based imaging format. You can more easily add files and folders to a Windows 7 K-image. Through K-imaging, the KACE Appliance helps eliminate redundant transfers in the capture, storage, and deployment of Windows 7 images.
  • Network OS install allows you to automate the build out of Gold Master reference machines used for Windows 7 image capture. The KACE Appliance slipstreams drivers along with a network OS install, helping to provide a hardware independent option to deploy Windows 7.
  • Asset management helps track Windows 7 operating system and software license compliance. KACE asset history monitors assets as they undergo hardware and software changes through a Windows 7 Migration. Software metering shows you the Windows 7 software in your network that is actually being used versus simply installed. Unused software licenses can then be reassigned or retired, helping save your company money.
  • Patch management allows you to deploy relevant Windows 7 patches and updates to machines on local and remote networks as they become available. Rely on the KACE Appliance to distribute Windows 7 updates so that you do not have to wait for the full service packs from Microsoft.
  • Pre and post deployment configuration helps make it easy to bundle relevant Windows 7 applications while utilizing thin images, a systems deployment best practice. Since thin images contain only the operating system and applications that everyone in your organization needs, they help you to maintain fewer images. And because thin images are simpler, deployments can be more reliable and users can experience less downtime.
  • Remote site management allows you to migrate machines outside your headquarter network to Windows 7. The KACE Appliance remote site management technology requires virtually no dedicated hardware. You can retain the convenience of a centralized administrative console while utilizing the remote network to serve as the engine for the deployment.
  • KACE Virtual Kontainer technology lets you keep your Windows 7 deployment fresh and free from potential application conflicts. Deploy key applications with less worry of impacting your new Windows 7 deployment.

Source: Dell

Microsoft’s – Remote Desktop Services

2017-07-27T00:01:11+00:00 April 5th, 2010|Uncategorized|

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is an emerging architectural model where a Windows client operating system runs in server-based virtual machines (VMs) in the data center and interacts with the user’s client device such as a PC or a thin client. Similar to session virtualization (formerly known as Terminal Services), VDI provides IT with the ability to centralize a user’s desktop; instead of a server session, however, a full client environment is virtualized within a server-based hypervisor. With VDI, the user can get a rich and individualized desktop experience with full administrative control over desktop and applications. However, this architecture, while flexible, requires significantly more server hardware resources than the traditional session virtualization approach.

Key benefits of VDI are:

  • Better enablement of flexible work scenarios, such as work from home and hot-desking
  • Increased data security and compliance
  • Easy and efficient management of the desktop OS and applications

VDI Standard Suite and VDI Premium Suite

Microsoft provides two suite offerings to purchase and deploy VDI: Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Standard Suite (“VDI Standard Suite”) and Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Premium Suite (“VDI Premium Suite”). These two suites make it simple for customers to purchase the comprehensive Microsoft VDI infrastructure and management software, while providing excellent value amongst competing VDI offerings.

The Microsoft VDI Standard Suite is a complete VDI offering which offers the following features:

Desktop Delivery:

  • Basic connection broker to deliver personalized and pooled virtual machine-based desktops in low-complexity environments
  • Web-based remote access and full-fidelity end user experience

Application Delivery:

  • Separation of application layer from image with app streaming
  • Reduces app-to-app conflicts and need for regression testing
  • Easy application life cycle management via policies

Virtualization Platform:

  • Reliable, micro-kernelized hypervisor with small footprint
  • Supports live migration

Management:

  • Integrated, end-to-end management
  • Dynamic provisioning of apps to physical, virtual and session-based desktops
  • Rapid VM provisioning with cloned VHD’s
  • Support for failover clustering and storage migration
  • Patching, updating and monitoring of physical VDI host

For customers that want additional functionality, the Microsoft VDI Premium Suite is a comprehensive desktop centralization offering: It includes all the features of the VDI Standard Suite, but it also leverages the full capabilities of Windows Server Remote Desktop Services to provide greater flexibility for desktop and application delivery. Specifically, it offers the following desktop and application delivery features and benefits on top of the VDI Standard Suite:

Desktop Delivery:

  • Single brokering, discovery and publishing infrastructure for VDI and session-based desktops and applications
  • Higher user density with session-based desktops than with virtual desktops

Application Delivery:

  • Separation of hosted applications from the image
  • Isolation of incompatible applications and consolidation of Remote Desktop Session Host server silos

In order to enable the above mentioned features, the Microsoft VDI Suites incorporate a package of specific use rights of the following Microsoft infrastructure and management products; please contact your Microsoft licensing specialist for details:

  • Remote Desktop Services Client Access License (RDS CAL)
  • Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) including App-V
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) Client Management License
  • System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) Standard Server Management License
  • System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) Standard Server Management License

Both the VDI Standard Suite and the VDI Premium Suite are licensed per client device that accesses the VDI environment, and thereby allow for flexibility of server infrastructure design and growth. The subscription based license will ensure that customers always have access to the latest versions of software. The VDI Standard Suite and the VDI Premium Suite are designed to complement the per device subscription model of VDA, further simplifying the buying experience for Microsoft VDI customers

VDI is best suited for contract and offshore workers and for users who need access to their work environment from home, including from a non-company owned PC. For complex deployments which require enterprise-level VDI capabilities, Microsoft is partnering with third party vendors such as Citrix Systems to provide a complete and scalable end-to-end solution to customersMS RMD Chart

 MS RMD Diagram

Remote Desktop Services’ RemoteApp virtualizes a processing environment and isolates the processing from the graphics and I/O, making it possible to run an application in one location but have it be controlled in another.

Remote Desktop Services makes it possible to remotely run an application in one location but have it be controlled and managed in another. Microsoft has evolved this concept considerably in Windows Server 2008 R2, and renamed Terminal Services to Remote Desktop Services (RDS) to better reflect these new features and capabilities. The goal of RDS is to provide both users and administrators with both the features and the flexibility necessary to build the most robust access experience in any deployment scenario.

To expand the Remote Desktop Services feature set, Microsoft has been investing in the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, also known as VDI, in collaboration with our partners, which include Citrix, Unisys, HP, Quest, Ericom and several others. VDI is a centralized desktop delivery architecture, which allows customers to centralize the storage, execution and management of a Windows desktop in the data center. It enables Windows and other desktop environments to run and be managed in virtual machines on a centralized server. RDD and VDI addresses all these challenges with the following features:

 
For both virtual and session-based desktops, the quality of user experience is more important than ever before. Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services improves the end user experience significantly for VDI and session virtualization (fka Terminal Services) through new Remote Desktop Protocol capabilities. These new capabilities, enabled with Windows Server 2008 R2 in combination with Windows 7, provide for a richer user experience and improve end user productivity. Microsoft RemoteFX, a new set of remote user experience capabilities being developed by Microsoft for Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, will enable a full-fidelity, local-like desktop environment for virtual and session-based desktops and applications. RemoteFX will complement the enhancements made to RDP in Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services and will extend the benefits of a rich remote desktop or application to a wide array of client devices, from the most powerful PC to low-cost thin clients and other access devices.
  • Extends Remote Desktop Services to provide tools to enable VDI
  • Provides simplified publishing of, and access to, remote desktops and applications
  • Improved integration with Windows 7 user interface
  • Multimedia Redirection
  • True multiple monitor support
  • Audio Input & Recording
  • Aero Glass support
  • Improved audio/video synchronization
  • Language Bar Redirection
  • Task Scheduler

 New RemoteApp & Desktop Connection (RAD) feeds provide a set of resources, such as RemoteApp programs and Remote Desktops. These feeds are presented to Windows 7 users via the new RemoteApp & Desktop Connection control panel, and resources are tightly integrated into both the Start menu and the system tray. The improved RemoteApp and Desktop Connections features in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 provide the following improvements:

Improved RemoteApp and Desktop Management

 

While RAD improves the end-user experience, RAD also reduces the desktop and application management effort by providing a dedicated management interface that lets IT managers assign remote resources to users quickly and dynamically. Windows Server 2008 R2 includes the following RAD management capabilities to help reduce administrative effort:

  • RemoteApp & Desktop Connections control panel applet
  • Single administrative infrastructure
  • Designed for computers that are domain members and standalone computers
  • Always up to date
  • Single sign-on experience within a workspace
  • RemoteApp & Desktop Web Access

Improved RemoteApp and Desktop Deployment

 

Administrators faced with larger RAD deployment scenarios will also find additional management features in Windows Server 2008 R2’s Remote Desktop Services aimed at improving the management experience for all existing scenarios previously addressed by Remote Desktop Services as well as the new scenarios available via RAD. These improved management features include:

  • PowerShell Provider
  • Profile Improvements
  • Microsoft Installer (MSI) compatibility
  • Remote Desktop Gateway

 Source: Microsoft

E-Medical Records: 10 Steps To Take Now

2010-03-11T14:51:52+00:00 March 11th, 2010|Uncategorized|

Don’t wait for the government to finalize meaningful use requirements. Here’s how to jump-start your health IT efforts.

The federal government’s $20 billion-plus healthcare IT stimulus program has more hospitals and doctors than ever planning to implement e-medical record and other health IT systems. But many healthcare providers have put plans on hold as they wait for the government’s final “meaningful use” rules that will determine which types of systems are eligible for reimbursements.

“I’ve been in this industry for 25 years, and I’ve never seen as much anxiety and confusion,” said Dr. Mark Leavitt, chairman of the Certification Commission for Health IT. Leavitt spoke with Informationweek at the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS ) conference in Atlanta Tuesday.

Despite all the uncertainty, there are steps providers can take now that will help them jump-start system deployments once the final rules are issued later this spring. Here are 10 top ones:

1) Get buy-in and sponsorship from your organization’s top leadership, including influential clinicians and the CEO. “Solicit your leadership team and actively communicate with upper management,” said Curt Kwak, CIO of the western region of Providence Health & Services, a provider that serves Washington, Oregon, Montana, California, and Alaska.

Support from the top is critical, especially when convincing users to give up old work habit and processes. Make sure everyone understands your goals, such as how the new systems will improve quality of care.

2) Decide how you’ll fund the project–remember stimulus dollars don’t start flowing until 2011. Some EMR vendors are offering interest-free loans for the upfront costs related to the purchase of these systems. Also consider applying for federal, state, and private grants. And some hospitals are offering free EMR software to doctors under the relaxed federal Stark rules.

3) Start evaluating your workflow and processes. Figure out what steps you’re doing now waste time and money, and can be eliminated with the new system. “Health IT is truly a magnifying glass, you’ll see all your flaws,” said Florence Chang, senior VP and CIO at MultiCare, a Tacoma, Wash., hospital network. “Decide what steps don’t add value.”

4) Find out where key information resides in your organization. For instance, is information on patients’ allergies in paper charts or computerized files? Start collecting information on how many prescription drug orders your doctors put through, and how they do those orders–paper, fax, or phone-in. You’ll need this data later to measure your organization’s meaningful use of electronic ordering, said Mike Wilson, senior IT director of clinical systems at Compuware.

5) Look at EMR and other health IT products for the ones that fit your organization’s needs. Consider products that have a good shot at attaining meaningful use certification, like those already approved by the Certification Commission for Health IT, or software from vendors that are offering meaningful use compliance guarantees.

6) If you’re not ready for a big bang approach to EMRs, consider modular software and components that let you add functionality in increments. “Look at the entire puzzle for what pieces fit now, and what can fit later,” Providence Health & Services’ CIO Kwak said.

7) Determine whether you have the resources and staff to handle an on-site system–both to implement it and keep it running. If not, then maybe a hosted model makes more sense. If you need to recruit talent, figure out the skills you’ll need and get going.

8. Get your infrastructure ready to deal with new systems. For instance, can it handle computerized physician order entry? If not, what foundation can you start laying, said Avery Cloud, VP and CIO of New Hanover Health Network, a health care organization in Wilmington, N.C.

9) If you were already planning or implementing health IT systems prior to the HITECH legislation passing in February 2009, don’t change things now. Don’t divert your original plans because meaningful use deadlines are compressing the timeframe, said Kwak.

10) Finally, don’t jump into poorly thought out health IT plans just to try getting the stimulus rewards. “Don’t do it just for the money,” said Wilson. “It’s like having a baby just for the tax break.”

Source: By Marianne Kolbasuk McGee,  InformationWeek
March 3, 2010
URL: http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=223101301

Small Business Computer Support in Detroit Metro

2017-07-27T00:01:11+00:00 March 9th, 2010|Uncategorized|

Did you know that Coretek offers computer and network support to small and medium sized business in the the Detroit Michigan metro area?  We do!!!

              Contact us today at (248) 684-9400 for more information.

 

SMB Computer Support:

Coretek is committed to providing computer and network solutions that address small and medium sized businesses in the Detroit area. Our goal is to help our clients achieve a predictable and cost-effective IT support.  

  • Cost Effective
  • Computer Supportdell_ultra_small_desktop
  • Network Support
  • Server Support

Coretek offers computer and network support on a subscription basis or time and material basis that saves a company time, worry and money.  We will proactively update and stabilize a company’s computing environment, eliminating problems before they occur.  Coretek utilizes processes and tools that over time reduce the number of problems in a network and amount of time it takes to resolve computer issues when they do occur.  This service will make a company and its employees more productive, which is Coretek’s ultimate goal.  Coretek is dedicated to providing its clients with more than just great IT people but innovative computer solutions.  Solutions provided by Coretek include the assessment and design of appropriate technology solutions, technology implementation, ongoing support, and appropriate migration planning and implementation.  Coretek looks forward to building a reputation of excellence with its clients as a provider of computer support services.  We will not waste your employee’s time on the phone instructing them on what to do to fix the issue.  We will either remote control into the machine with the problem and fix it, or we will send someone on-site to repair it quickly.  Our small to medium business team is comprised of a group of highly trained consultants and engineers who understand the needs of smaller businesses and have the experience to provide technology recommendations as well as their implementation and support.

 

Technology Solutions Offered: 

  • Computer, Printer and Network Support
  • Server Migrations and Upgrades
  • Network Security
  • Technology Assessments and Strategic Planning
  • IP Telephony Systems and Integration (Voice over IP, VoIP)
  • Server and Desktop Virtualization
  • Project Management
  • Microsoft Integrated Solutions (AD, Exchange, System Center, ISA, IIS, SharePoint, Project Server)

 

       101 Best and Brightes

  Microsoft Gold Partner

Microsoft Application Virtualization for Terminal Services

2010-01-04T12:06:03+00:00 January 4th, 2010|Uncategorized|

Microsoft Application Virtualization for Terminal Services now included as part of Windows Server 2008 RDS CAL
As of September 1, 2009, all users or devices connecting to Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Session Host Server or Windows Server 2008 Terminal Server managed with Microsoft Application Virtualization for Terminal Services no longer need to acquire a separate Microsoft Application Virtualization CAL for Terminal Services. See more details.

Server growth is a costly issue for organizations that rely on Terminal Services. To avoid application conflicts, applications must undergo significant testing to determine which applications will collide and, therefore, must be separated and run on different Terminal Server silos-a time-consuming and costly process.

Running multiple separate terminal servers for each application routinely results in servers being underutilized because each one is locked into a specific configuration, capable of serving only a limited set of non-conflicting applications, typically using just 25 percent of capacity. Often, 20 servers are required to support 1,000 users. Microsoft App-V for Terminal Services completely changes this situation. Microsoft Application Virtualization for Terminal Services offers the following features and benefits:

Consolidate servers and end server siloing, increasing server farm ROI: App-V’s application virtualization allows any application to run alongside any other—even applications that normally conflict, multiple versions of the same application, and many applications that previously could not run under Terminal Services. This eliminates the need for server silos and significantly improves server utilization. As a result, the number of servers needed is much lower, operational costs for managing the remaining servers are reduced, and the server farm ROI is increased. For instance, it has enabled Russell Investment Group and Fidelity National Financial to shrink their application server farms by 33 to 40 percent.

End application conflicts and regression testing: By eliminating the need to permanently install applications on servers, and shielding the operating system and applications from changes created when installed applications run, Microsoft App-V for Terminal Services prevents problems that hinder deployments. The need to perform lengthy regression testing is also significantly reduced.

Accelerate application deployment: Applications that use App-V only need to be packaged once for desktop or terminal services platforms. This reduces the need for “double packaging” or creating two different processes and packages when providing the choice for running an application on a desktop or via a terminal server.

Reduce Deployment Risk: Installing a new application on a terminal server was traditionally a risky process; first you had to ensure all users were logged off, then you had to change the mode of terminal server, followed often by reboots. Software updates and uninstalls provide even great complexity and risk. With Microsoft App-V applications can be deployed and updated on demand to users without having to reboot or log users off.

Simplify Profile Management: Microsoft App-V allows application settings and data to be stored in a single network location. This ensures a user’s application settings are available no matter what terminal server is used—without the need for roaming profiles. Additionally this feature makes mandatory profiles a viable option for TS scenarios—OS settings remain locked within the mandatory profile while per application settings can still be modified by the user. This dramatically simplifies the complexities of managing profile data.

Terminal Services

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft, Google Face Off On Healthcare

2017-07-27T00:01:12+00:00 December 1st, 2009|Uncategorized|

Microsoft and Google are taking their rivalry to the doctor’s office, running competing services that allow people to store their medical records online for access by family members and healthcare providers.

Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault are similar approaches: They let patients input their own medical data either by typing it in or by giving permission for the vendor to get the information from a healthcare provider or insurer with which it’s partnering. Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault then provide tools for those partners to give the patient personalized health advice and other services built around the person’s records.

These “personal health records”–PHRs for short–complement electronic medical records. Both types of records contain a lot of the same information on the patient’s conditions, test results, prescriptions, and other medical data. But PHRs are compiled and controlled by the patient, while EMRs are compiled and, for the most part, controlled by the doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare organizations.

Google’s Approach

Google Health aims to let consumers “get more directly involved in their healthcare,” said Roni Zeiger, product manager for Google Health. “Medicine continues to become more complicated, doctors have less and less time to spend with patients in the exam room, and each of us as a patient has greater responsibility to take care of ourselves and our loved ones.”

Google has been a leading player in e-health simply because searches on healthcare topics have always been popular. When people get sick–or think they getting sick–one of the first things they do is go online for information.

“What I hear from a lot of my doctor friends is that people are often coming in with a pretty big pile of questions that they’ve gotten from reading online or elsewhere,” said Zeiger, who’s a practicing doctor. “Sometimes those are well-informed questions, sometimes less so. Part of our mission is to narrow down the 20 pages worth of questions to perhaps one page of more informed questions.”

That’s good for the patient, and it also lets doctors see patients more quickly without compromising quality of care. And sometimes patients find treatments in their research that their own doctors aren’t aware of.

Google Health, which was launched last year, provides an interface where users can type in data. Users can also give Google Health permission to access data held by various healthcare companies. For example, more than 100 million people in the U.S. can give Google Health access to electronic copies of their prescription histories at a pharmacy or pharmacy benefit manager, such as CVS Caremark, Walgreens, and Medco Health Solutions.

Google Health lets people organize all relevant health information in one safe place, Zieger said.

Partnering Up

Google is teaming with other organizations that can use its PHRs to offer personalized information and services. For example, the American Heart Association–with your permission–will check your blood tests imported from another partner, Quest Diagnostics, to find out your cholesterol level, blood pressure readings, and correlate those with other health data, such as whether you have diabetes. It then can compile all the information to determine your ten-year risk for a heart attack, and what you can do to lower the risk.

Another example: Google Health partner MDLiveCare, which offers video consultations with doctors, let a patient click a button on the MDLiveCare site to import all of his or her medical history from Google Health. That way the doctor has some background on the patient’s medical condition.

Cleveland Clinic, a not-for-profit academic medical center, lets patients export their records into Google Health. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, has linked its PatientSite patient portal to Google Health. Other partners that are letting Google import medical and drug prescription information, with a patient’s permission, include Allscripts, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Google Health is free to consumers and partner organizations. Google expects that, as more people use Google Health services, they’ll do more searches, which will increase the company’s ad revenue.

Microsoft HealthVault’s mission is similar to Google Health. “Your health information is fragmented,” said George Scriban, senior global strategist at Microsoft Health Services Group. An person’s medical records are scattered among every doctor who’s ever seen them, every pharmacy that’s filled a prescription, labs, employers–even devices, like diabetics’ glucometers, for people managing chronic conditions. The situation is exponentially complicated for parents managing health records for their entire families. “All of these are records you need on a reasonably frequent basis, if not every day. You need a place to keep it all,” Scriban said.

Like Google, Microsoft HealthVault is partnering with other companies. It has created a set of APIs and interfaces to HealthVault data repositories that let third parties communicate with HealthVault. Some of these third parties are just engaged in data exchange. But in a lot of cases, organizations like the Mayo Clinic, American Heart Association, and American Cancer Society have written applications using HealthVault medical records. “It’s a storage service, but it’s also a platform,” Scriban said. “It provides personalized and individualized guidance just for you.”

New York Presbyterian Hospital links HealthVault with its patient portal, and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine, EMR provider Allscripts, and others are partnering with Microsoft for Internet services.

HealthVault offers the same channels for inputting health records as Google Health: If healthcare providers are partners with Microsoft, then individuals can give HealthVault permission to access the records. Alternately, patients can type in the information themselves. Compatible devices such as glucose meters, blood pressure cuffs, and pedometers can send information to HealthVault.

Also, Unival, which provides EMR services, lets healthcare providers fax records to them, and then Unival transmits those faxes to HealthVault, where they’re stored digitally. “It’s not machine-readable, but at least it’s in one place,” Scriban said.

Big Differences

So far, Microsoft and Google’s health offerings look pretty much the same, offering the same types of services, and in some cases even with the same partners, such as the American Heart Association.

But they’re really very different, said John Moore, analyst at Chilmark Research. “Microsoft has been putting enormous investment into HealthVault and into its health solutions group,” he said. “The same cannot be said of Google. Google has been more of a hands-off approach, letting it grow organically. Every now and then they announce a partnership and someone who has joined the ecosystem.”

Microsoft is also ahead on allowing biometric devices to feed into HealthVault, using its Connection Center software for Windows. Google has partnered with the Continua Health Alliance to achieve the same goal, but so far with fewer compatible devices, Moore said. “Right now, I think there’s one device on the market,” he said.

Likewise, staffing levels are different. Microsoft has more than 550 people in its Health Solutions Group. “If you look at Google it’s not more than 18 people, I bet,” Moore said.

“Microsoft is taking more of a structured and clinical approach. Google Health is more of a loose-knit health and wellness platform,” Moore said.

Microsoft and Google are both going after the big pot of stimulus money set aside for healthcare spending, in the U.S. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and elsewhere, which totals $44 billion, Moore said. Some of that money is targeted at getting physicians, practices, and hospitals to provide personal health records by 2013, and healthcare providers may be able to qualify for that money by partnering with Microsoft or Google.

Dossia, a consortium of employers offering PHRs for their employees as part of health benefits is a potential competitor to Microsoft and Google, but it’s taking a very different approach. Dossia performs the same function as HealthVault and Google Health–but only if you’re an employee or family member of one of the companies in the alliance. So far, only Wal-Mart is live on Dossia. Other members, like Intel, Pitney Bowes, and Vanguard Health, are likely to go live in 2010. All told, Dossia covers 8 million employees and family members. “It can be a fairly substantial platform if employees sign onto it,” Moore said.

The biggest obstacle to PHR adoption is consumer and healthcare provider resistance, said Dr. Paul Abramson, a San Francisco doctor.

“Patients are confused, they don’t see how this relates to healthcare,” Abramson said. “If you go into an ER, they’re not going to log into Google Health to get your records. There’s no integration to any live, real-time health systems that are used clinically.” In hospitals “no one thinks to ask the patient if they have a Microsoft HealthVault account when we access records,” he adds.

PHRs will take off when they’re better integrated with medical practitioner systems, Abramson said. “Right now, it’s pretty much a novelty.”

HealhVault is the more flexible solution, said Abramson, who is also a former professional programmer. He’s consulting on developing Hello Health a Web-based medical practice app that will synch with Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health.

HealthVault stores any kind of XML-based patient data in its Repositories, Abramson said, letting you import an XML file, store it, and then retrieve it from elsewhere. The service can be used as a data repository and pipeline between e-health systems, even if it doesn’t understand all the data it’s storing, he said. Google Health, on the other hand, takes the XML files, strips out the subset of data it can understand, and discards the rest. It stores basic information like diagnoses, medications, and allergies, but it doesn’t understand or store a broad range of additional information that might be useful to a medical practitioner, including family medical, social, and psychological histories, Abramson said.

The Mayo Clinic is partnering with Microsoft on its PHR system, the Mayo Clinic Health Manager. Launched in April, it integrates with HealthVault, storing medical records, immunizations, and information on conditions being managed such as allergies. It also makes recommendations for health based on the patient’s personal medical history.

Mayo Clinic partnered with Microsoft because of Microsoft’s reputation and expertise. “They tend to be frontrunners in the things that we do,” said Michael Greenhalgh, senior manager of product management for Mayo Clinic Global Products and Solutions. “We had a shared vision. We were looking to make things better in the health field.” Mayo is looking to improve the service by increasing the range of conditions it covers.

Mayo is also looking to partner with Google Health on a future project, the details of which haven’t been worked out yet, Greenhalgh said.

Privacy Concerns

Neither Google Health nor Microsoft HealthVault is covered by the U.S.’s chief health privacy regulations, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). “This is because Google doesn’t store data on behalf of health care providers. Instead, our primary relationship is with the user,” according to an e-mailed statement from a Google spokesman. But both companies say that patient privacy is paramount.

“Although Google Health is not covered by HIPAA, we are committed to user privacy and have in place strict data security policies and measures, and ensure that users control access to their information,” Google said.

Google explained its privacy policy with regard to Google Health in a May, 2008 blog post. The company said it doesn’t sell health user information, and has “strict data security policies and measures in place to limit access to sensitive information and to protect against data breaches.”

The Google Health Privacy Policy, on the company’s Web site, is short and in plain English. It gives users control of their information, says that the user is by default the only person who can view and edit information, but can choose to share with others. Users can completely delete their information at any time, and immediately. Users can also revoke sharing privileges at any time.

Microsoft uses four privacy principles for HealthVault: The user owns and controls information they create. The user gets to decide what goes into the records, and what leaves it. And “Microsoft is just the steward of this information. We work on your behalf. We won’t commercialize it unless we ask and you consent,” Scriban said. The company won’t use the information to deliver targeted advertisements, and consent to share information must be given on an individual basis; users can’t give permission to share information to a whole class of entities, like all doctors, for example.

But Phil Cox, principal consultant at SystemExperts, a network security consultancy, said security at both Google Health and HealthVault is lousy.

For starters, both services use generic credentials, the Windows Live ID and Google ID, which have had security violations in the past. Also, the data being protected in a PHR repository is much more sensitive than the e-mail and calendaring information the Windows and Google credentials mainly protect, Cox said.

Both companies “place the security burden on the user, and have specific language in their respective use agreements that hold them harmless for any breach of data caused by a compromise of a user account,” Cox said in an e-mail. Given the security issues with generic credentials, “I worry that individual users will have little recourse if their information is compromised. I do think this will cause some very interesting legal challenges.”

He said he believes that both services will eventually be brought under HIPAA rules, which might cause Google and Microsoft to drop the services rather than bring them up to regulatory standards.

Google and Microsoft plan to evolve their services to a complete data repository of health information, which would be a “HUGE collection of highly sensitive data” with “inadequate” protection, Cox said.

He added, “One last concern I have is over the language that basically states there is no guarantee of accuracy or timeliness of information, and that they can drop the service at any time. With those two ‘stipulations,’ I do not see how any user will take them seriously. I certainly would not rely on the service, and if I can’t rely on it, why use it.”

But analyst Moore said he believes the privacy and security concerns for services like HealthVault and Google Health are overblown. Sure, a major security breach of either of those services, should they become popular, would be a disaster. But the companies will use top-of-the-line security to protect data. And right now the data is scattered around small physician practices and hospitals, which have data breaches regularly. “I am of the opinion that your records will actually be safer and more secure than what is happening today,” Moore said.

Both Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health are vying to become the chief repository for personal health information. They appear similar on the surface, but have differences underneath, and privacy and security are ongoing issues for both. Individuals will have to take the pulse of both services and decide for themselves.

Source: By Mitch Wagner,  InformationWeek

The Windows Optimized Desktop

2017-07-27T00:01:12+00:00 October 27th, 2009|Uncategorized|

windows-7-logoWith the Windows Optimized Desktop, Microsoft has created the single client infrastructure framework that will empower the new diverse workforce by supporting the execution and administration of multiple desktop and worker scenarios.

The building blocks of the Windows Optimized Desktop are:

Windows 7

The next release of Microsoft’s venerable desktop operating system, Windows 7 is faster, more reliable, and features better performance. It boasts an intuitive, easy-to-navigate user interface, including the enhanced Windows Taskbar, and offers new scripting and automation capabilities based on Windows PowerShell™ 2.0.

Windows Server® 2008 R2

The latest version of Microsoft’s time-tested 64-bit server operating system, Windows Server 2008 R2 supports network-oriented management frameworks such as Active Directory® and the .Net Framework. Windows Server 2008 R2 incorporates tried and-true management capabilities such as Microsoft System Center as well as Hyper-V™ virtualization hypervisor, which facilitates desktop virtualization.

Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP)

A suite of best-of-breed desktop management and virtualization technologies, MDOP is an integral part of the Windows Optimized Desktop. It includes Microsoft’s exciting new Application Virtualization technology, App-V, and Enterprise Desktop Virtualization technology, MED-V.

Other MDOP tools are Microsoft Asset Inventory Service for centralizing desktop inventories, Advanced Group Policy Management for managing administrative rights, Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset for identifying desktop problems, and System Center Desktop Error Monitoring to enable proactive problem management. 

System Center

A set of server-based technologies, System Center helps IT administrator’s aggregate information related to infrastructure, processes and policies. Using System Center, they can better manage systems and automate operations, which helps reduce cost, improve application availability and enhance service delivery.

Forefront™ Client Security

A client-server application designed to view and manage security settings and configurations across an enterprise, Microsoft Forefront Client Security provides unified virus and spyware protection, simplified administration and critical visibility and control. From an administrative point of view, the Windows Optimized Desktop is both a blueprint and a toolset intended to help technology managers address issues related to desktop productivity, security and manageability.

Source: Microsoft.com

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