VMblog: Are you sponsoring this year's VMworld 2020 digital event?
Jason E. Smith: We have sponsored each VMworld ever since our founding in 2009. However, this year we decided that a virtual VMworld event wouldn't give us the visibility or chance to really engage with participants. Since the COVID-19 pandemic we have sponsored a number of smaller virtual events and have found these to be very beneficial. However, we will be attending as virtual participants!
VMblog: With COVID-19, we've seen a lot of changes in the tech world. One big change has been the disruption of physical trade shows. Many, like VMworld, have become digital in 2020. What are your thoughts on digital events compared to traditional physical events?
Smith: Virtual events during this pandemic have provided the opportunity to remain engaged with customers and our community. We've been actively participating in lots of virtual events, specifically community focused ones such as VMUGs and CUGCs. Liquidware has found that smaller, focused events have provided the opportunity to really drill down on participants' challenges and highlight how our solutions can help them in their remote/work from home requirements.
Clearly, virtual events cannot replace the IRL face-to-face interaction that you get at physical events. But some of the virtual event platforms out there do a good job of trying to replicate the engagement you have at a physical event. And, of course, there isn't a day goes by where we're not all engaging on a Teams or Zoom call, right?!
VMblog: With this new digital format, what are you most interested in seeing or learning at VMworld 2020 digital?
Smith: By moving to a virtual event, VMworld is now open for everyone to attend. It's a great way for many VMware and eco-system partners customers and prospects to get a taste for what a VMworld is like, without some of the exorbitant overhead costs of T&E! The keynotes have always been streamed but to now be able to attend the sessions too is an excellent opportunity for many.
For Liquidware, we're always keen to see what's coming from VMware in the EUC space and understanding how we can complement and augment their offerings for our joint customers.
VMblog: Another change has been a shift to working from home. What are your thoughts on this, how has it changed things for your company both internal and external?
Smith: As we've discussed before on VMblog, Liquidware has been helping many customers to enable a rapid, burst scale WFH environment since the pandemic created the requirement for organizations to send their workers home in the March timeframe. We created a number of assets to help advise and guide companies on the best way to ensure their workers had a productive and good user experience in this new regime. We also created specific product features to help in this area, more of that in the next section.
[ WATCH: VMblog's Work From Home video interview with Liquidware ]
For us internally, we've always enabled our staff to work remotely but we made a move to do this on a mandatory basis for a short period of time earlier this year. With all of the industry resources and experience that our teams have they did not miss a beat. I do, however, miss raiding the candy jar in the break room!
VMblog: Talking about your product solutions, can you give readers a few examples of how your offerings are unique? What are your differentiators?
Smith: Liquidware is the ONLY software vendor focused on providing adaptive workspace management solutions. We've introduced many industry-first features and continue to be agnostic in our platform support. With the rise of remote working in the past few months, our innovative use of cloud-based storage has enabled our customers to rapidly scale up a remote working environment for their employees. We support all of the major platforms; Amazon WorkSpaces, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, Microsoft WVD, Nutanix Xi Frame, and VMware Horizon. We also work closely with AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure and you can find our solutions on the Amazon and Microsoft Azure Marketplaces.
VMblog: For people attending the VMworld 2020 digital event, why should they be interested in your company and solutions? Why should they come find out more about you?
Smith: Although not a sponsor this year, we've been hosting a lot more of our own webinars to help our customers understand some of the specificities of WFH or remote working. A particular focus has been on ensuring the best possible end user experience. We've introduced new features to our monitoring and diagnostics product - Stratusphere UX - that enables IT departments to answer three key questions: 1. Are your users connected? 2. Are you users operational? And 3. Are you users productive?
By focusing on these areas, Stratusphere UX provides end-to-end metrics and data that supports planning and design in the first instance and then on-going visibility to ensure the business benefits from WFH and that users have the best experience feasible.
To learn more about our WFH capabilities, we have a dedicated section on our website with an abundance of information, visit: https://www.liquidware.com/solutions/desktop-disaster-recovery/wfh
VMblog: What does your company offer a VMware shop or implementation?
Smith: Our value-add for VMware customers is solely focused on EUC. Liquidware is an adaptive workspace management company that enables superior management of Windows desktops - whether they are deployed physically, virtually or in the Cloud. While VMware EUC solutions have UEM, monitoring and application layering included, Liquidware's focus is on innovating and developing solutions that span platforms. We provide IT with an enterprise robust UEM, application layering and monitoring solution in one bundle and giving their users the best possible experience. Using Liquidware solutions, our joint customers get the most out of their VMware deployment and, most importantly, keep their users happy and productive.
VMblog: Normally, VMworld is the time of year that people in this industry announce a new product or product update. Do you have anything new that you've recently announced or plan to announce? Can you give us the details?
Smith: We've been very busy with new releases this year! Our ProfileUnity and FlexApp version 6.8.3 shipped in January with a following r2 version in June and Stratusphere UX version 6.1.5 shipped in July.
Liquidware is renowned for introducing "industry first" features into our solutions that are geared towards specific customer-driven requirements. With the pandemic, we introduced a host of new features into Stratusphere UX that provides unprecedented work from home visibility.
For example, we've expanded its set of Wi-Fi metrics for troubleshooting the "first mile" of a home user's connection, including access point signal strength, access point distance and connection speed, along with support for mesh networks.
With the pandemic forcing organizations to rapidly launch WFH options, these metrics are now highlighted in the Advanced Inspectors, Dashboards and SpotChecks to identify "first mile" performance issues more easily. Organizations are assured that the technologies their workers are relying upon are responsive and support WFH seamlessly, in turn reducing IT support teams overheads and increasing user productivity.
We have also launched a number of new on-demand training videos for Stratusphere UX that can be found on our training site: https://training.liquidware.com/
The latest version of ProfileUnity and FlexApp introduces a number of new features, with one in particular assisting with a work from home strategy - hourly billing for AWS. The FlexApp filter driver has also been updated for increased speed and compatibility.
VMblog: How does your company work with VMware? Where do you fit within the VMware ecosystem?
Smith: As mentioned above, we provide solutions that enhance a EUC deployment. We're a VMware Technology Alliance Partner and deliver significant value for VMware EUC customers. In particular, those looking to be able to utilize application layering in their app delivery strategy, as well as requiring specific, in-depth visibility of their EUC estate. Liquidware also provides advanced user experience management and we have many joint customers benefiting from our joint deployments. You can learn more here: https://www.liquidware.com/solutions/solutions-platform/vmware
VMblog: VMware will be covering this type of stuff in their keynote, but what big changes do you see taking shape in the industry?
Smith: Obviously, due to the pandemic, work from home has been a huge focus this year. Liquidware sees many organizations wanting to continue to protect their workers from returning to the office and need to continue to provide a productive remote working environment. So, we believe we'll continue to see remote working being embedded in organizations' overall IT strategy. For our part, we are focused on ensuring our customers' Windows desktops continue to be managed in an adaptive way as they decide whether those desktops will be delivered physically, virtually or in the Cloud.
VMblog: Finally, do you think physical trade shows will come back? And if so, when and do they change? Would you sponsor?
Smith: We do think physical events will return in due course. However, they need to be, and will be, very different to what we've been used to. Social distancing - or to better phrase it physical distancing - will remain for a long time to come. This will provide challenges to what a trade show can look like in the future. Therefore, we believe that smaller, more focused events will become the norm. Perhaps we have seen the start of the demise of huge tradeshows? After all, shows like COMDEX disappeared, CeBIT has been cancelled for the foreseeable future and shows like InterOp have re-focused their offerings as requirements change.
Liquidware remains committed to attending trade shows, whether virtual or physical, in the future but ones that are targeted and specific, not necessarily the gargantuan trade shows of the past.