VMware App Volumes

With VMware App Volumes in a Citrix XenDesktop Environment, Application Management Is a Snap!

By Debra Perrin Coltoff, Technical Writer, End-User-Computing Technical Marketing, VMware

With special thanks to Stephane Asselin, Mark Ewert, Dean Flaming, and Jason Marshall for content assistance.

Last summer my family spent a day visiting LEGOLAND Discovery Center in New York. We all loved it, especially the chance to see miniature recreations of some of the world’s most famous cities, all built from LEGO blocks. My kids exclaimed over each tiny bit of landscape. I did as well, enjoying the minute detail in small-scale replicas of places I have visited.


On the ride home we fantasized aloud about how different the world would be if we were able to pop everything apart and snap it together again as easily as LEGO blocks allow. What if a car bumper or faulty light switch were so simple to replace? What if some of our biggest problems could be as quickly solved as snapping LEGO blocks apart, rearranging them, and then snapping them back together again?

For an application management solution that snaps into place as easily as LEGO blocks fit together, integrate VMware App Volumes into your existing Citrix XenDesktop environment.


App Volumes creates a LEGO-style solution in a XenDesktop environment by offering an alternative to per-virtual machine management. By locating applications above the OS, organized into application management containers called AppStacks, specific containers can be made to dynamically “snap” onto the desktops or machines to which they are assigned.

The Benefits of AppStack Containers

AppStack containers allow IT to provide specific applications to select users or groups of users, at the click of a button. This arrangement leverages existing storage and networking services, reduces infrastructure strain and overhead, and simplifies application life cycle management. Using AppStacks, a large number of virtual desktops with an identical golden image can be flexibly provisioned with the exact applications required, in real time.

IT saves time and infrastructure resources, in turn saving the organization money.

There are many benefits to bringing App Volumes into an existing XenDesktop environment.

·      A Generic Golden Image

App Volumes enables the creation of a generic XenDesktop golden image, a virtual desktop image that does not have applications specific to any business group on it. With the same single generic golden image to build each virtual desktop, virtual desktops are easily altered to follow changing business requirements. Changes can now be executed in real time, creating organizations that are more agile.

App Volumes allows IT to store separate application files and deliver them across many XenDesktop virtual desktops at once. The sharing of AppStacks between multiple machines eliminates the need to install duplicate copies of the same application on every virtual desktop. Without the need for space to store redundant virtual desktop images, and without the multiple application installations required on the virtual desktops, the enterprise reduces costs and increases storage capacity.

·      Easy Life Cycle Management

With App Volumes, applications in AppStacks are managed centrally through a single Web user interface, but AppStacks can be replicated and located in multiple datastores. Following a one-to-many delivery scheme, multiple different AppStacks can be assigned to a given user, desktop, or group of users or desktops, provisioning that user or desktop with the required applications. As a user accesses the desktop, they instantly access the applications within the attached AppStacks. For AppStack application updates, IT deals with only the single stored application to deploy changes to all XenDesktop virtual desktops.

·      User-Installed Applications (UIAs)

With App Volumes in a XenDesktop environment, users can install their own applications onto an App Volumes writable volume. An App Volumes writable volume is personal writable virtual disk storage space, enabled by the organization to allow users to install applications of their choice for use with a virtual desktop. Although desktops remain generic, writable volumes attach at login through administrative assignment. Writable volumes are tied to the user, not the virtual machine. Changes made to the writable volume follow the user from desktop to desktop.

Users enjoy a persistent desktop experience, yet IT manages a nonpersistent environment.

·      A Truly Clean Uninstall

In a XenDesktop environment, integration with App Volumes saves IT both time and money, allowing the business to scale quickly. Applications remain separate from the operating system. Because of this separation, IT can attach the necessary AppStacks to the desktops of those who need them, at the appropriate time, later removing them when they are no longer required.

Because applications attach and detach from desktops within AppStack containers, a truly clean uninstall is a reality. Just as with LEGO blocks, after the AppStack is removed, it leaves no trace of itself behind.

·      Optimized Application Delivery

In AppStacks, applications are handled separately from the OS. Instead of taking a virtual desktop offline due to planned maintenance or a catastrophic event, the nonpersistent desktop can simply be destroyed and created again as new. Applications can be quickly removed from a broken virtual desktop or delivered to a new virtual desktop via AppStacks. This optimized application delivery lowers the overall cost of your infrastructure.


·      Easy Management of Application Conflicts

Conflicting applications are easily managed by adding both App Volumes and VMware ThinApp to an existing XenDesktop environment. ThinApp packages isolate potentially conflicting applications from one another, allowing conflicting applications to be placed next to one another within the same AppStack. To learn more about how App Volumes and ThinApp together can allow you to manage multiple application versions side by side, including legacy IE applications, read VMware App Volumes and VMware ThinApp Combined: The Perfect Mix.

LEGO blocks can be used to create nearly anything. When we construct with them, we are limited only by our own insight and innovation. Why not utilize App Volumes in the same way? Rethink your current infrastructure and you may surprise yourself with all that you can create.


To learn more about using App Volumes in a XenDesktop environment, read the white paper Implementation Considerations for VMware App Volumes in a Citrix XenDesktop Environment.

If you would like to learn about using App Volumes in a XenApp environment, read Implementation Considerations for VMware App Volumes in a Citrix XenApp Environment.

May the Force be with you!