How ThinScale reduces application complexity

Happy new year all!

We hope you had a great break over the holiday season. We thought we’d kick the new year off talking about applications, some of the common issues we have seen, and how our solutions help by giving you choice in your methods of application delivery.
So a bit of background, We’ve had the pleasure over the previous year and a half to speak with a number of our users, from which we noticed an interesting trend. A lot of people seem to be wondering about applications and how our solutions ThinKiosk and Secure Remote Worker assist in reducing the complexity involved in application delivery for multiple users and maintaining a consistent experience on the endpoint.

Close up of hand with laptop and media icons
Disclaimer: ThinScale is not responsible for injuries caused by floating applications

There are many reasons for running virtual or remote apps, having these applications together in one place keeps things central and secure and allows for easier management of the potentially large amounts of applications needed in the workplace. Using VDI or cloud-based applications in your environment makes things a lot easier than dealing with specific local apps.
However, issues can occur in all cloud environments when it comes to app delivery, load balancing is presented as a solution but it is not always the case, not to say it is any worse than standard on-prem load balancing, simply being cloud-based it has it’s own set of disadvantages and does not answer some specific issues, namely: latency when communicating with the data center and the total resource demand of the cloud-based application itself are examples where load balancing may not be the be-all-end-all solution (more on latency and resource demand’s effect on application delivery later!).
Additionally, another issue that can arise is with the layering of the application, an example we often see is simply where the end-user clicks on the shortcut, and nothing will happen, potentially meaning they would have no access to their required resources. In terms of business continuity, it is beneficial to have multiple methods of application delivery.
One way around this potential issue is to connect via a browser, however, giving your users access to an open browser can be risky.

Man in front of laptop computer with headset
“Why do doctors hate him?” *click*

ThinKiosk and Secure Remote Worker help in your application delivery by giving you choice. Being vendor agnostic our solutions work with remote and virtual apps from almost all providers.

ThinKiosk and Secure Remote Worker work on the endpoint, they respectively lock down corporate and personal devices for use in secure remote/virtual environments. The environment within the secured UI is dictated by the profile’s settings, these profiles control everything from the aesthetics of the endpoint to the actual retrieval and presentation of remote applications.
The solutions both fully support Single Sign-on, app auto-launching, keystroke passthrough and much more, all of which is controlled by our central management solution: the ThinScale Management Platform.
With the inbuilt secure browser, you also can provide access to virtual resources via HTML. This browser supports website white/blacklisting & read-only URL’s ensuring your users are only accessing the sites approved by you, this way you have multiple ways in which you can present your virtual applications to your end-users. You also have the ability to present local applications to your end users.


Why bother with local applications?

For some, in an ideal world, all of our applications would be virtualized, but this is not always a reality. Requirements and restrictions often raise further complexities in application delivery.

In a recent conversation with Brian Timp, Workspace Consultant and owner of Automaze IT Solutions, it was noted that recently there has been a push towards the local installation of applications on the device itself. To accommodate areas with network issues that would struggle to provide consistent user experience in VDI or cloud-based resources.

This very much matches some of the cases we’ve seen. In our experience, people are embracing a “hybrid” approach to their applications. Pushing for a combination of local and virtual resources.
Reasons  for this could be:

  • Resource intensive Virtual/Remote app performance
  • Dependence on legacy applications
  • Network Latency

Resource Intensive Virtual/Remote app performance

Application performance can often deteriorate due to the resources these apps use when being accessed remotely, this can lead to user frustration, some recent examples we’ve found cause issues in this regard may not surprise you…
Microsoft Teams, in particular, has been under scrutiny recently for its performance as a virtual application. Reports vary honestly, some love it (we love it), while others are having issues with the app‘s infrastructure. Teams is electron-based, to make it compatible with multiple platforms, however, it’s partly this framework that causes issues with performance as typically electron apps eat up a lot of memory. App freezing, quality loss, and video de-sync are common when trying to access Teams, especially as a virtual app. Teams can even struggle running for cloud service providers other than Azure.

TeamsTeam’s electron-based infrastructure can cause issues in VDI environments

VoIP solutions such as Cisco or Zoom are also top offenders in this regard. Extending on the Teams point above, apps for conferencing that require video and audio often run on servers that are not built effectively for it. They require a lot more CPU and Memory, and often these servers are set up/rented to be optimized for hosting things like outlook or word. 

Media players (specifically when video playback is involved) and their issues are a tale as old as time when it comes to VM’s and thin clients. Picture quality, playback speed, choppy performance. Video eats up a lot of CPU.

If you’re noticing a trend, it’s that anywhere video is involved is a huge resource consumer. But the above resource-hogging could also easily occur with any browser (chrome loves its memory) or spreadsheets like Excel.

Devoting additional resources to your backend or optimizing resource use can help to speed up applications. Database applications that require a large number of IOPs or video playback mentioned above can benefit from this. This can be costly, however, depending on your setup or what your cloud service platform is.
This may not be quite the quick fix it seems, however, resource-heavy applications may continue to be a problem regardless of the money/resources put into the backend. A growing company would need to constantly upgrade their servers to cater for the increased users.

If resource utilization is an issue for you, IntelliPerform dynamically reduces the usage of troublemaking processes, read more about it here.

Legacy applications

The business may be dependent on older applications, which may be difficult to virtualize, or too expensive to upgrade to a version that supports virtualization, that’s not to say one shouldn’t attempt to upgrade and centralize these applications, but for a lot of companies, this isn’t always 100% feasible, often due to budget or potential time commitment required. We’ve seen this is common in enterprise as well as in government environments. 1 in 4 IT leaders reflects some weariness to move legacy applications to the cloud.

Cd and Floppy Disk

For some IT departments, if the app is in the workplace, and works well, then the idea of paying extra money to deploy the app virtually is unattractive. On-prem VDI is already a hefty investment especially in high-performance environments, the same can also be said for cloud environments,  Azure and AWS users can pay up to 29 times more per month for the IOPS consumption needed for high-performance workloads.

Network Latency

Latency can be a major issue in cloud environments, where often the datacentre could be miles away. This often severely reduces quality for applications that deal with conference calls, video playback and most VoIP apps in general. Depending on your network, your applications could suffer from latency issues and can lead to extreme input delays. This really affects any event-driven applications in “serverless” environments, with delays seen up to hundreds of milliseconds.


How can ThinKiosk and Secure Remote Worker help with this?

Local apps can be passed through ThinKiosk and Secure Remote Worker’s secure UI from the underlying Windows OS, these local apps utilize the resources of the local device, leaving more available server-side for other virtualized processes. These apps are all accessed the same way as the virtual apps, so you have a single pane of glass to view all of your applications.


Teams, Zoom, even media players like VLC can be passed through the secure UI and accessed alongside any of your virtual apps

ThinKiosk and Secure Remote Worker are both Windows-based solutions, so if it works for Windows, it will work for you. Both solutions support the usage of legacy applications  and hardware, as standard Windows drivers are completely compatible with ThinKiosk and Secure Remote Worker.
Due to these applications being run locally, latency is also less of an issue as you are not trying to access the whole application through the network.

With the ThinScale Management console, you can quickly deploy policies for local app access, allowing different applications to be passed through for different users/departments.

mgmt console
Put your profile within the device folder to deploy to each of the devices within that folder

The ThinScale Management Console also allows for the central deployment and updating of local applications through the Package Creator, giving you control over these local apps that would have been previously lost.

Easily deploy and update your local applications centrally

As covered in one of our previous postings, environments are rarely straightforward. ThinKiosk and Secure Remote Worker give you choice on how you want to provide your end-users with their resources, through dedicated vendor connections, HTML or local app pass through. Both software provides a secure, lightweight and flexible solution to complexities with application rollout.


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