End-User Experience Management Comes to Apple Mac Machines


What would have seemed ludicrous in 1997 is a well-known fact today: Apple is the single richest company in the world. What's more, Mac computers, iPads, and iPhones are carving out an ever-larger share of the enterprise market, putting the onus on IT to properly manage and secure these new devices.

But after that's covered, only Riverbed SteelCentral™ Aternity provides the unparalleled end-user experience management capabilities necessary to realize the full value of an enterprise Apple investment.

A recent Riverbed blog post entitled, “Beyond Enterprise Mac Management — Four Moves to Boost End User Experience” introduced the issues surrounding enterprise management of Macs, and it's a great primer. Riverbed Connections spoke with Adi Mendel, senior product manager of SteelCentral Aternity to delve more deeply into the topic.

Apple makes a splash in the enterprise

As explained in the blog, the rapid growth of Apple's enterprise market share has increased the need for Mac-compatible enterprise management solutions. IT has several viable options between Microsoft Active Directory domain tools, Mac-specific tools like Apple Remote Desktop and Apple Profile Manager, or generalized Mobile Device Management solutions.

With these solutions, IT can implement the device management and security practices required for enterprise deployments. But, as Adi points out, this is not enough. Maximizing employee productivity requires ensuring excellent user experiences across all devices and business-critical apps. It requires user-experience monitoring that works in tandem with the above device-management strategies. Now, SteelCentral Aternity can offer its robust user-experience monitoring capabilities on Apple devices.

"We dramatically enhanced the features and capability of the Aternity Mac agent to better monitor the performance of desktop and web applications, provide more visibility into the Apple device itself, and really make it easier for the IT and help desk teams to use Aternity to monitor Apple products, just as they do for Windows," says Adi.

Insights beyond device management and security

Let's go into the details. What, we asked Adi, can Aternity end user experience monitoring actually deliver? What can IT now know that it could not know before?

  • First, end user experience monitoring delivers high-level visibility into ALL of the devices in the enterprise, both Mac and Windows. As Adi explains, "Mac or Windows, Aternity aggregates all device data into a single interface, giving IT a full understanding of where all of the devices are located, their specs, software installations, everything there is to know."
  • Advantage number two is something Aternity calls Auto Discovery. "Once the Aternity agent is deployed, it automatically discovers all of the applications that are running on the Apple devices, and reports usage data into the Aternity console without any need for configuration," says Adi. "So it's a huge jump for IT, going from no visibility into the application performance on users’ devices to knowing precisely what applications users are running, even if they are ‘Shadow IT’ applications not provided by the enterprise."
  • Last but not least is the ability to monitor the actual end-user experience, based on data like usage, wait time, crashes, hangs and errors. "Now IT can not only know that employees are using Outlook, or SAP, or any local- or cloud-based business application, but also how they are experiencing it," says Adi. "If it's crashing, how many times? How long is the app taking to launch? How long is the user staring at their screen, waiting for the application to respond?"

Figure 1. Aternity automatically incorporates data like usage, wait time, crashes, hangs, and errors into a User Experience Index (UXI) for every enterprise app in the portfolio.

Complements, not competition

It's precisely these insights that the Mac enterprise-management solutions cannot provide. As Adi points out, those solutions are excellent at what they do, and SteelCentral Aternity is not competing with them. Rather, it complements them, solving the well-known "last mile" problem by reporting exactly what the users see on their devices as they conduct their company’s business.

The Aternity agent connects IT and the business

Aternity, Adi continues, is a completely unique solution that reports detailed end-user experience information no competing solutions provide. "Even the Mac itself doesn't report this kind of information. You could go look in Services, but that would just be a long list of applications consuming CPU. It won't report the actual performance of apps, such as how long it took to launch Outlook, the responsiveness of a web application, let alone monitor the response time of a business critical activity."

The Aternity Mac agent, which operates transparently and with minimal performance impact on the end-user device, is the key to Aternity's penetrating insights. The agent can measure performance, as seen by the end user, for apps of any type, be they local, web, cloud-delivered or thick-client. And it not only measures app performance, but the performance of any business-related processes IT might define.

"Let's assume that you're using SalesForce and you were searching for an account," says Adi. "By defining that as a business activity, you can now measure the precise performance level of this business activity for every end user. You can measure performance relative to an SLA target and get proactive notification if thresholds are violated. No other tool that can provide that capability, for every type of application in the enterprise."

"Ultimately, we are really providing the information that enables IT to prove how well it supports the business."

Want more?

Thanks go to Adi Mendel for helping delve deeper into SteelCentral Aternity's support for Mac end user-experience monitoring. For more background, be sure to check out the Enterprise Mac Management blog that inspired this article. If you’re a current Aternity customer, you can download the Aternity Mac agent from your Admin tools menu by selecting “Agent Download.”  (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Download the Aternity Mac agent from the Agent Download screen in your Admin Tools.

If you’re not yet an Aternity customer, you can sign up for Instant Access and explore Aternity in a live environment.