Jazz-Up XenApp – Taking A Closer Look at Applications with VMware App Volumes and WEM

May 8, 2015
Harry Labana

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Harry leads the app delivery team as vice president of management services and strategy for VMware End-User Computing (EUC).

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By Harry Labana, vice president, products, End-User Computing, VMware

Harry Labana 2 Recently we announced the VMware Horizon® Application Management™ Bundle, which is included in VMware Horizon 6 Enterprise and available to Citrix customers, who we also love!

Today I’d like to double-click on the Horizon Application Management Bundle to explain a bit more how it addresses many common application delivery challenges. In this post I will discuss some future concepts including common capture of apps and per user entitlement, and explain why our approach is uniquely equipped to address the most comprehensive set of use cases across physical, virtual and cloud leveraging the other powerful innovations VMware has in its portfolio to provide a great experience. We’ll also be showing the bundle at the VMware booth (#302) at Citrix Synergy (May 12-14) so swing by if you’re at the show – we want to hear your feedback.

Consistent delivery of applications from the data center to device

I introduced the concept of VMware Workspace™ Environment Management (WEM) earlier this year and the goal of WEM is to simplify the management of end-user workspaces across many environments (physical, virtual and cloud).  In terms of applications, we have been thinking about ways to make it easier to deliver applications consistently by providing a common format that offers deployment flexibility.

  • How many of you work in an environment where native executables are how you install applications, because you have no budget or skill set to deal with MSI packaging?
  • How many of you still live in a machine centric world where you create an MSI and then use SCCM to deliver applications for local installations on physical PCs?
  • How many of you have realized that in a people/user centric world the MSI model quickly falls down due to slow provisioning times and unreliable delivery, and have created an App-V package for the same application for deployment to your RDSH/Horizon/XenApp users?
  • How many have you created yet more packages like ThinApp® to deal with app isolation use cases?

This is the reality today for many enterprises where they are using many applications to do the same job! What’s more, the tremendous amount of work that goes into packaging and delivering day-zero applications is just half the battle because there is still more work to be done with the ongoing lifecycle management such as:

  • Modifying applications when there is an update
  • Going through multiple infrastructures just so that one application can be maintained.

This is a huge time sink for IT that decreases their ability to focus on innovation, produce interesting work that enhances their career and deliver impact to end-users. I talk to many customers and friends in IT that are still pretty much managing applications as they did in 2003 and they’re worried about their future relevance. This is not a scalable or sustainable future for many and web apps aren’t coming to magically whisk them away to application heaven where all problems are solved.

Well, what if there was just ONE format to create, ONE format to update, and ONE workflow to follow for applications.

We have been working on a future technology concept for the common capture of apps where the aim is to have just one format for application packages that can be delivered to Physical, Virtual & Cloud environments.

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We plan to make more details available later this year and will be showing a demo at Citrix Synergy next week.  At the heart of it is the fast and simple App Volumes provisioning engine. You will be able to create a common image package for native applications & isolated applications, wrap them with global settings & using WEM can deliver that package to Physical, Virtual & Cloud.

Simplifying the application management model

Now lets double-click on another future concept for VMware App Volumes™ that we are working on that we’ll also be showing next week at Synergy. The App Volumes team has been thinking about how application management models can be simplified further by flattening management models to provide even greater flexibility. Today, App Stacks are a great way to deliver native applications. They are fast and can be attached in real time. However, with what we internally call per user entitlement, we wanted to provide a solution that allows you to continue to use the AppStack model but with the added flexibility of individual application assignment to users.

The concept is to allow you to have larger AppStacks with many apps and only entitle users to the apps that have been assigned to them. Since we keep track of the registry and file system, users only see and interact with the applications that has been assigned to them.

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This architecture will limit image sprawl by enabling you to use a single OS image across your enterprise. You will then be able to further consolidate your existing AppStacks and tailor assignments to users, thereby further reducing the storage footprint by leveraging thin-provision capabilities of VMware vSphere®, as opposed to just hiding applications. Specifically for RDSH/Horizon Apps/XenApp customers, this will allow you to consolidate and reduce the number of application servers you need. For physical users, this will also help you reduce image sprawl. Once this is combined with the common capture of apps, it starts to become pretty compelling. I would welcome any feedback as we work to quickly evolve and incorporate this.

Architecture and platform counts

We can dream up many possibilities because we’re very deliberate about the architectural choices we make. For instance, if we had chosen architectures not optimized for applications that required us to control the entire virtual machine and solely dependent upon virtualization, we would have never been able to deliver simple, fast and easy to manage applications to physical devices.

A fact a lot of people may not be aware of is, App Volumes offers enhanced VHD support, which works with Hyper-V to enable customer choice. Using this approach, if we wanted to officially extend support to Microsoft Azure, it would be feasible. I welcome your feedback.

At the same time because we are VMware, we are best positioned to take advantage of the software-defined data center and hybrid cloud. With solutions like App Volumes, we will uniquely take advantage of SDDC technologies to enable game changing use cases like Just-in-Time Desktops.  We also plan to optimize further with SDDC technologies such as VMware Virtual SAN™ to provide high read iOPS, Virtual Volumes to enable better storage management, and vRealize™ Operations™ for operations management, just to name a few.

These types of innovations are only possible if you have an elegant architecture that affords you engineering flexibility, works with your existing infrastructure across physical, virtual and cloud environments and can take advantage of other platform innovations to enhance the user experience. We have a tremendously powerful application solution that will get even better quickly as we continue to innovate and execute at a furious pace.

We’ve decided to focus on EUC apps first as that’s where our customers face the greatest pain across their many environments. The former CloudVolumes now App Volumes team in version 1.0 at Citrix Synergy in 2013 showed how to deliver XenApp servers and is a testimony to architecting right so you have flexibility. Perhaps this is a great migration use case from XenApp 6.5 to XenApp 7.x or perhaps you just want to use scripts.

Before I joined CloudVolumes, I wrote a blog post affirming my belief that customers want an aggregate reduction in complexity of managing applications and stated:

“Lets face it; Citrix and VMware are not competing with each other in this space, and they’re not competing with Azure or AWS running on Windows Server. The biggest competitor is the status quo enterprise market. The seat of pain for these customers is the applications. If new approaches help address core customer pain points, then the world has an incentive to shift their approach sooner.”

Today at VMware, I can’t even begin to express my gratitude at having the opportunity to help people solve problems in this space in new ways, based on everything I have learned over the years. I’m really excited about our future, since I believe VMware is the most motivated and best positioned to solve this by taking solutions to the next level.

One more thing…

Innovation is the life-blood of growth and something that gets our product and engineering teams fired up. It’s a great time to be part of VMware EUC. We’re really excited to show you the things we have shared so far, but next week we’ll be sharing something that you may not be expecting so stay tuned.

@harrylabana

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