AppSense extends user virtualization with user rights management

AppSense URB helps reduce desktop management costs while increasing an organization's security and stability

This week AppSense extended its user virtualization technology platform by adding what the company calls user rights management (URM) capabilities.

According to the company, as IT organizations make the shift to using virtualized desktops, administrators will move away from managing systems in favor of a more user-centric management approach. As users access applications and data by way of multiple devices, that in turn will push IT to focus more on users themselves rather than the specific devices being used.

[ Find out more about how AppSense user virtualization helps desktop virtualization adoption | Keep up to date on virtualization with InfoWorld's Virtualization channel. ]

So what exactly does AppSense mean when it talks about URM? In a nutshell, user rights management is the ability to manage the privileges that users run processes with. Or put another way, URM provides the ability to prioritize user rights to specific applications; thus, the user runs as an administrator for some applications but are forced to run as a standard user for others, ensuring security isn't compromised.

As an example, if a user needs to run an application that requires rights greater than those of a standard user, the user can be given administrator rights for that entire machine by being added to the local administrator group. Doing so will give the user the necessary rights to run their application, but also opens up a security risk. By using AppSense's URM functionality, system administrators can make sure the end-user is able to carry out daily tasks without requiring privileges above that of a standard user.

Daniel O'Connor, product manager at AppSense, said that one of the downsides of giving a standard user complete administrative rights to their corporate desktop is that programs are now running with administrative rights.

"For example, a user logged on to a system with local administrator rights is a far greater risk to the desktop and the enterprise than a standard user," explained O'Connor. "This is because all applications will run with administrative privilege that gives them potentially dangerous access when it comes to data and more specifically the deletion of data, by giving rights only when they are needed and for specific applications that have been determined by the system administrator. The risk is mitigated and possibly eradicated."

The goal then for URM is to provide businesses with a means to balance user needs with IT costs.

To that end, some of the new features of AppSense URM include elevating user rights to run applications -- the user doesn't receive admin credentials but nonetheless has the ability to run specific applications that require admin rights; organizing user rights for running control panel applets -- allows a standard user to change printers, wireless network information, time and date settings, and more without being elevated to a local administrator; and managing access to system settings -- prevents admin-level users from changing configuration settings (such as firewall or security settings) that can expose the company to new security concerns.

Enterprises can use URM to further manage their desktop environments to help reduce desktop TCO, address desktop security and stability challenges, reduce support calls, and ensure that users have access to the features and applications they require. But to be successful, AppSense will need to make sure user satisfaction remains at optimal levels. Just as with desktop virtualization, the challenge is to make sure users remain happy with this new technology.

AppSense URM is available now. The new URM capabilities also are available as part of the larger solution with the release of AppSense Application Manager 8.1.

This article, "AppSense extends user virtualization with user rights management," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.