A browser is kind of like an operating system WITHIN your operating system. Changes or upgrades to the browser can affect the functionality of your applications. Upgrading to Internet Explorer 11 is a hot topic right now and if you ask me, it’s actually the most challenging aspect of a Windows Server 2016 or Windows 10 migration. Your traditional Win32 client applications that worked in Windows 7 are very likely to work on Windows 10. The same cannot be said for web apps that worked in IE8 or IE9 when accessed in IE11.
Microsoft made a great attempt to help us expedite our IE migration by creating enterprise mode and while this works on many web apps, it doesn't work on all and that becomes painfully obvious when you are testing all your web apps. Also similar to on an operating system (kind of\sort of), you can also install applications “in” your browser like Java and Flash. Browsium helps you manage the browser experience, administration and web app remediation.
I first worked with Browsium about 6 or 7 years ago as part of Windows XP to Windows 7 migration projects. Back then we were mostly using Browsium Ion for dealing with web applications that still required Internet Explorer 6. At that time the only other product which could offer a path forward was VMware ThinApp. With ThinApp, we could virtualize IE6 and setup some redirection rules. If a user went to a website in their Internet Explorer 8, which we had whitelisted as requiring IE6 it would redirect and instead launch in the virtualized IE6. This was with varying success. Running an application isolated can add complexity and cause functionality issues with Browsium, there’s no isolation or repackaging required.
Obviously, it’s 2017 now and we have luckily all moved past Internet Explorer 6 J I was going to create my own how to video or post screenshots but I feel it would pointless, as there’s a perfectly good video available (I suggest you view full screen and in high res):
If for some reason you can’t watch the video right now. In short, they go through setting up some Ion configurations for a sample site. This website has various issues when running in the latest IE e.g. when you try to order a phone the text is not properly aligned and the button doesn’t work. They also demonstrate applying Microsoft's Enterprise Mode to show what that cannot mitigate, Ion can.
The Java manager has some very welcome new features. In short, you can deploy multiple versions of Java on your machine and use an Ion configuration to enable a specific version of Java for a site that requires it. Click here to see of this in action.
One of the drawbacks to using Ion for managing multiple versions of Java in the past was the fact you could still expose your organization to security threats by having legacy versions of Java installed on the machine. Even if the users were only interacting with it when using that one website that needed it, having the bits on your machine available for those who may try to launch an attack made me lean toward using something like App-V, Cloudpaging or Turbo.net for my Java needs. I figured isolating the Java components reduced the surface level for attack. Browsium came up with a great solution to put my mind at ease. They have now integrated Oracle's free Java Deployment Rule Set into their offering.
For more on the Java Deployment Rule Set and a walkthrough of how to use it without Ion, check out my post here. Hint! It’s a pain in the ass to manage!!! Thankfully with Browsium you just configure however everything through their UI and it creates the rules without you ever needing to see Java or those damn jar files. It really is awesome. You can set rules to only allow to block Java except when used to access whitelist sites or .jnlp files.
Browsium Catalyst is another tool in the Browsium suite. You can use Catalyst to configure rules to redirect across different browsers. If you have Google Chrome as a secondary browser and wish to leverage that for certain websites. You can do that! You can redirect the user from Internet Explorer to Chrome for those websites. The redirection is very quick! You can configure the rule to notify the user that it’s being redirected to the other browser or you can configure it to be seamless. This also work to redirect from any website to IE, Chrome or Firefox.
The biggest revelation with the Browsium product suite is their Proton application! It’s an incredibly powerful data analytics tool which gathers and reports on all kinds of activity within your organization’s browsers. You can detect usage of the browser e.g. IE vs Chrome. You can detect usage of the different, what websites were accessed, which security zones were used and information about your clients.
For any given client you can instantly see which browsers are installed, what plugins are installed, what the default browser is etc.
You can also detect the actual performance of the web apps in use within your organization. The data is even broken down pretty granularly so you can figure out what part of the loading is the slowest.
You can see what versions of ActiveX are invoked and required by your web apps.
You can also see the various versions of Java being used and just as important, you can see what versions of Java are out in your organization that have not been used in quite some time.
With the Browsium suite you have the ability to detect issues with your browsers and mitigate these issues and best of all it's as simple as deploying the Browsium clients to your devices and then managing the rules with simple config changes. Setting up and using the products is a piece of cake!
For a longer video which shows using Proton together with the other products in the suite, play this:
For more check out: https://www.browsium.com/