The world of virtual desktop (VDI) and published/remote application environments has certainly come a long way. Centralized and server-based computing started out with apps being executed on servers and published for end users to access locally. Then came desktop virtualization in the form of both persistent and non-persistent pool deployments.
Today, we are on the cusp of an even more exciting desktop and app delivery model called just-in-time delivery, powered by instant clone capabilities on platforms like VMware Horizon for VDI and published apps. All of these technologies are in place because they provide several benefits for IT, including easier app/desktop management and security. But even with all these innovations that have come along the virtual desktop and published app journey, challenges on how to best deliver and manage apps in these environments are still present.
That was, until VMware App Volumes was introduced. IT shops everywhere rely on VMware App Volumes as a best-of-breed application delivery and lifecycle management solution. With App Volumes, IT can easily deliver and manage apps in Horizon, Citrix, and RDSH environments. The one-to-many provisioning architecture that App Volumes is built upon helps ensure infrastructure (mainly storage), app packaging and maintenance costs, and image management costs remain low.
When customers take a look at VMware App Volumes or any other app management or layering solutions on the market, there are usually some common questions that come up. How does the app management solution scale? Can I manage more than one type of platform? How do I manage apps with drivers?
We want to help remove some of the common misconceptions regarding application delivery and management in virtual desktop and published app environments. We’ll also take a look at how App Volumes can help. Let’s get started!
Myth #1: I can’t manage apps at scale.
On the contrary, App Volumes was designed to manage large environments from the start. Some of our biggest customers from financial services and healthcare industries rely on app management at scale, as well as always-on availability. These customers use App Volumes to deliver and manage the lifecycle of applications for hundreds, thousands and even tens of thousands of users.
App Volumes customers also leverage existing infrastructure and use the entire VMware stack to deliver apps, manage users, monitor, troubleshoot and re-mediate their VDI and published app environments. Because App Volumes is a container not layer approach, it does not require full VM control for any management—period.
Myth #2: I can’t manage Citrix and Horizon with one solution.
It’s easy for customers to think that since App Volumes is part of VMware, only a VMware platform like Horizon would be supported. But one of the beauties of App Volumes is support for several platforms.
The architecture is simple: install apps into a VMDK or VHD once (we call this an AppStack) and deliver to many targets like virtual desktops, published app servers, or users. With support for different types of disk mounts, App Volumes can support other VDI and published app environments, with the prime example being Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop.
Customers can realize massive storage and OpEx savings on top of Citrix environments using App Volumes.
What about support for Microsoft RDSH? No problem. It’s similar to how App Volumes can deliver apps to the Horizon RDS platform.
Myth #3: I can’t deliver isolated applications.
Isolating or sandboxing applications has been around for years and is great for certain use cases. For example, an end user may not be able to run a legacy app in a newer operating system. The classic example of this is running IE6 web apps in Windows 7, which cannot be done natively. If you can isolate the app using VMware ThinApp though, this is possible. With App Volumes, you can take that a step further and deliver the ThinApp package to a desktop, published app server or a user. This is. of course. in parallel with App Volumes ability to deliver apps natively to desktops, published app servers and users.
Myth #4: I can’t deliver applications with drivers.
Another common myth we hear is that apps with drivers cannot be delivered via App Volumes. App Volumes actually supports most Windows applications (can anyone really say they support all Windows apps!?) and that includes services and drivers. Even software frameworks and middleware like .NET and Java can be installed into and delivered via an AppStack.
Myth #5: I can only deliver/attach a certain number of applications.
Customers usually look for best practices when it comes to designing and deploying any application management tool. With App Volumes, a common request we are asked for is the best practice for number of AppStacks that can be attached per VDI session.
We recommend that number to stay below 20, but that really depends on which apps and how many apps are in the AppStack. Because each AppStack is essentially a VMDK or VHD, the limitation of the hypervisor (usually ESXi) comes into play. This is a limitation of the overall environment. All application virtualization products that deliver using a VMDK or VHD will suffer from the same constraints.
Myth #6: I need to validate conflicts between apps.
How does App Volumes handle conflicts? Easily.
The last AppStack attached is presented first, and App Volumes has the ability to reorder the attachment to any order you choose. If two versions of the same app are needed and to avoid conflicts, the app can be isolated into two versions using ThinApp and then delivered via App Volumes. There is not much value-add with third-party app compatibility tools to use on top of App Volumes.
Expand Your Application Management Knowledge at VMworld
Application delivery and management doesn’t have to be a daunting task in VDI and published app environments. Using a solution like App Volumes that’s architected to scale, works on several platforms, delivers isolated apps and does so much more will help ease the challenges associated with app management. Recognizing the common fallacies of app delivery and management and understanding how App Volumes circumvents them is important.
For those who want to dig deeper into App Volumes and the topics discussed above, we’ll have plenty of sessions for you to ask questions at VMworld 2016 U.S. from Aug. 28 through Sept. 1. If you’re attending, here are some sessions I’d encourage you to sign up for:
EUC7678: Real-World Examples Using App Volumes, User Environment Manager, Mirage, and vRealize Operations to Deliver Complete Desktop, App, and User Management and Monitoring
HBC8503: Taking VDI and Published Application Environments to the Next Level with App Volumes
EUC8822: Large-Scale Deployment of VMware App Volumes and User Environment Manager for 10,000 Seats
EUC10775-GD: Group Discussion: App Volumes Taking Your Deployment to the Next Level