End User Computing has been a staple for businesses for a long time. With the current shift in infrastructure, where we are moving from purely on-premises Data Centres to more hybrid and even fully cloud-based infrastructure, is End User Computing keeping up with change?
Nutanix is, with its latest acquisition of Frame. Inc, by giving you an End User Computing (EUC) platform that can deploy to both your public and private clouds. Nutanix is making End User Computing, something that is typically complex, simple with Nutanix Xi Frame (Frame).
Xi Frame is a desktop-as-a-service platform built with the simplicity and flexibility of Cloud and Nutanix. Frame is unique in the fact that it runs entirely in your browser. There are no client plugins to install which means as long as you have a HTML5 compatible browser, you can use Frame.
How Frame Works
As with other cloud-based EUC solutions (Citrix Cloud, for example), Frame has a Control Plane/Back Plane, where the service is managed, as well as Workload VMs that run the desktops and applications that are to be made available to users. Workload VMs can be Windows or Linux operating systems. The back end of Frame is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering hosted by Nutanix while the Workload VMs are deployed to your choice of cloud (Azure, AWS, Google Cloud) or even your on-premises Nutanix Clusters.
This gives you the flexibility to deploy your Workload VMs in one or many clouds (including on-premises) which enables Frame to be a truly multi-cloud hybrid solution.
Why would I chose Frame?
There are other End-User Compute (EUC) solutions out there that offer a similar service so what is Frame doing to be advantageous over the competition?
Frame can have the worker VMs run in any public cloud however, it can now also run worker VMs on your on-premises Nutanix AHV clusters.
Xi Frame was born in the cloud but it wasn’t created for just one cloud. Frame is truly multi-cloud enabled which means you can run your Workload VMs in the cloud of your choosing (Xi, Google, Azure, AWS); Frame was built to be secure, scalable and cost effective. Your Frame subscription will be paid monthly starting with as little as five (5) users and you can base your subscription on Named or Concurrent users.
The idea behind Frame is that it should be simple to use for both the end user and the administrator. With Frame, you can run any Windows or Linux based application in a HTML5 compatible browser. The admin interface is simple, easy to setup and configure and is updated in the background so you don’t need to control the updates yourself. Changing settings are simple switches and sliders; there’s no complex configuration needed.
Because Frame was born in the cloud and has become part of the Nutanix family of cloud-based services, you get the flexibility and choice of cloud-based operations with the simplicity of Nutanix one-click operations for enterprise integrations such as:
- Identity – (Google, AD/ADFS, Auth0, Okta, Ping, SAML/OAuth)
- Storage – (Drop Box, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, SMB, Shared Drives)
- Networking – (Peering, Direct Connect, VPN, ExpressRoute)
- APIs – (CI/CD, Headless access to apps, Embedded Applications, Frame Application, Frame Web Services)
- Operating Systems – Frame supports both Windows and Lunix guest OSs
Frame is designed to be secure with the following features as standout:
- FedRAMP Ready
- Role Based Access Control (RBAC)
- End-to-end encryption built-in
Education sectors could benefit from Frame: As instances can be scaled on demand, there is no need for a client-side plugin which would make deployment to students on a variety of different devices simple. Full RBAC support and multi-site management would remove the headache of managing multiple schools/sites.
Businesses employing a BYOD structure for their devices could benefit from Frame: You would not need to on-board devices to deploy a client or install any software. Frame is run entirely from a browser so regardless of the device, the employee will have access to their applications.
Design practices that use heavy graphic workloads can scale without the hefty investment in high-end hardware: Frame is built in the cloud so you can scale with ease and then trim back when you don’t need as much power.
You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a spin so why not do the same with your EUC product. You can head on over to https://fra.me/test-drive and sign up for a test drive of Frame.
Once you have verified your email address, you’ll be able to jump right in to Frame and take it for a spin.
Launchpad and Session
Heading over to https://login.frame.nutanix.com you are presented with the Frame login.
Upon logging into Frame you are presented with a default “Launchpad”. The launchpad is the end user-facing part of the Frame platform interface where users launch and manipulate applications. The Frame platform allows you to have multiple launchpads that can be customised for different use cases and workflows.
Launchpads are attached to “Accounts” and, at their core, they are a representation of the applications that are available for streaming from a Sandbox that is managed by an Organisational or Customer administrator.
An example of a simple application launchpad:
Clicking on the launchpad list icon in the upper middle portion of the page will show users all launchpads they have access to (including titles and thumbnails):
Clicking on an application within the launchpad will launch the app within your browser:
When the application launches it actually loads a ‘desktop’ session with the ability to launch additional apps within the same session.
Here, you can see my application that I chose to launch (Chrome), but if you look a bit closer, you’ll realise that you have actually launched a desktop session and then an app within that session. At the bottom of the screen you can see various stats for Bandwidth, Latency and Distance to sever.
Clicking on the cog in the bottom left corner will give you a menu of published apps that you are able to launch, show/hide the stats, change the screen resolution, play with some settings and disconnect or close the session. It’s quite impressive when you remember that this is all running through a browser.
Switching over the ‘Dashboard’ section will allow you to configure the backend of Frame. Here you can configure your Frame deployment through a number of sections:
From the dashboard you can see your applications that you have published as well as a Sandbox VM. This is the VM that you will install your Applications onto and test the functionality before publishing the VM. Think of this Sandbox VM as your ‘Gold’ or ‘Master’ image. This VM will power off automatically when you are finished with it.
A Utility server is a stand-alone, general purpose Windows server that can be helpful for a variety of use cases, including:
- License server: Install a network licensing manager for your software on a Frame Utility server. Your production instances can then connect to this server to get the licenses.
- Backend for a client-server application: Host a database or other backend function in the Utility server directly on your Frame account. Essentially, your entire system can be hosted in the cloud.
- Shared file server: Store files that can be accessed by all of your users.
Similar to your Sandbox, the Utility server is accessed from the Frame dashboard, where you can power it on and connect to install applications. Unlike the Sandbox however, the Utility server will NOT power off automatically. It was designed for use cases where you need the server to run 24×7.
Launchpads is where you can see your existing launchpads that are published along with the applications that are available within that launchpad. You can also create new launchpads and assign applications to them here:
In this section you will configure your authentication methods for how your users will login to Frame. the options available as of writing are:
- Frame (built in users)
These services are enabled with the toggle of a switch.
Capacity is where you configure the amount of worker VMs that are allowed to run under your instance and the times they are available to your users.
Analytics will give you an insight into what your Frame environment is doing; how many sessions are running, hourly usage, disk usage and elasticity:
Activity is your audit trail. You can see when sessions were created, Utility servers provisioned or applications provisioned. Everything is logged here:
The settings page is where you will configure your Frame environment. General Settings, Session settings, Networking, Availability Zones, Profiles and Personal drives:
The status page shows you all of your VMs configured for Frame, whether they are online or not, the kind of instance they are (Sandbox, Production, Utility), IP addresses and the instance type:
The administration interface of Frame is simple. It’s easy to configure and manage applications as well as user sessions. It’s not as complex as other EUC products however, it is quite full featured for a DaaS platform.
Xi Frame is for everyone
Whether you are a graphic designer in a small design firm or a large enterprise with 10,000 seats, Xi Frame could be for you. With the ability to run any App, on any device, in any browser, and on any cloud, Frame is truly a flexible, simple and cost-effective way to deploy an End User Compute solution in your organisation.
Take Xi Frame for a Test Drive here to see how Xi Frame can fit into your place of business.