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The Best Keeps Getting Better: Introducing App Volumes 2.12

Harry Labana

Author: Harry Labana

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

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“We’ve tested with the new 2.12 version of App Volumes and see a decrease of login time by 30% to 50% dependent on the amount of AppStacks a user has assigned. Stability and flexibility have also been improved in version 2.12. All and all we are happy with how 2.12 works out in our environment.”

—Lucien Haak, Team Manager EUC Operations, Maastricht University

Delivering applications and ensuring application availability in virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and published application environments is as important as ever for administrators today. VMware is committed to helping VMware Horizon, Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop and Microsoft RDS IT shops deliver and manage applications with VMware App Volumes. Today, I’m excited to announce the strongest App Volumes release to date with App Volumes 2.12.

Customers managing applications in VDI and/or published application environments need to be able to install, update and retire those applications in a timely manner. Most customers do this today using legacy solutions that are not built for virtual environments and are costly, slow, unable to scale and error prone to use. Customers may even look at emerging point solutions to solve their needs, but soon realize these solutions are not proven at enterprise scale and have legacy and insecure architectures that make management and compliance even more complex.

The issue with these emerging point solutions is that due to their small size they have no choice but to take a single technology “sledge-hammer” or “spread-too-thin” approach in trying to solve a broad set of Windows management challenges. This results in many fundamental tradeoffs, which experienced customers understand and are why they appreciate the focus for App Volumes: apps.

We’ve built App Volumes from the ground up using a focused application container approach to solve a very specific application problem and work alongside other technologies and existing infrastructure to ease adoption and provide further enhancements. This means we do not require full control of the entire virtual machine and do not need to rip and replace existing environments, unlike layer-based point solutions. This also means we are not limited to only VHDs or user disk-based approaches from point solutions with technologies that are years behind. Our focus is on applications, and we spent many years maturing and tweaking the core App Volumes technology to make it easy to adopt for the novice and scale for the enterprise.

App Volumes helps take VDI and published application environments, such as those powered by Horizon or Citrix, to the next level with the industry-leading application and user management platform.

Using a one-to-many delivery system, IT can deliver (read: not install) applications via a VMDK or VHD file directly to users, desktops or published application/RDS servers. This helps reduce storage capacity, because users or published application hosts can share the same VMDK or VHD file. IT is not limited to installing the same application to virtual desktops or published application servers. Updating an application is simple, because IT can update once, then reliably deliver many times over.

A Principled Technologies hands-on testing report showed that App Volumes can deliver up to 96% time savings and up to 60% space savings in Citrix environments. As Sean Armstrong, practice Lead for VMware End-User Computing (EUC) and Mobility Solutions at Comms-care, a leading provider of channel network and server support solutions, puts it:

“VMware App Volumes enables our internal IT support team to rapidly create and deliver application packages to our end users without having to learn any additional specialist skills.”

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What’s New in App Volumes 2.12

App Volumes 2.11 was released earlier this year with support for just-in-time desktop capabilities. In fact, App Volumes is the only solution optimized and certified on the VMware Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC).

Now in its seventh major release, App Volumes 2.12 includes learnings and feedback directly from our largest customers. The exciting new set of capabilities in this release include huge improvements that impact end-users:

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  1. Better user experience with faster login and application launch times. Maastricht University, who was our first customer using App Volumes (back when it was called CloudVolumes!), tested App Volumes 2.12 and reported back with 30-50% decrease in login time—wow! Other customers who were a part of our successful early access program for 2.12 reported similar and, in many cases, even greater improvements.
  2. Improved Active Directory integration allows IT to manage assignments across multiple domains using a single App Volumes management cluster. Scale continues to be a main focus in our releases as is evident with tighter integration into Active Directory with added Sites and Services awareness.
  3. Security enhancements in this release include agent to manager certificate validation.
  4. Windows 10 Anniversary Update and Office 2016 are now supported platforms.
  5. Update to the Tech Preview of Instant Clone Technology, allowing Citrix XenDesktop shops running vSphere to instantly clone and customize desktops from the convenience of a plugin to Citrix studio, and deliver apps using App Volumes. We announced this at Citrix Synergy earlier this year and had Citrix customers lined up to see demos of this functionality. Using Instant Clone Technology with App Volumes and User Environment Manager completely shifts the paradigm for Citrix customers still working in persistent and even non-persistent environments. If you are interested in testing out this capability, email age@vmware.com.

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Customer Focus

We are always delighted to hear how customers use App Volumes for their Horizon or Citrix environments. I’d like to share some links to a few of our customer stories:

  • BDP International was having issues deploying Google apps using Citrix. After migrating to Horizon with App Volumes, they were able to successfully deploy their Google collaboration suite.
  • ANZ Bank uses App Volumes’ one-to-many provisioning capabilities and dynamic scaling to reduce storage and operational costs in their Citrix environment.

[Related: Download the App Volumes for Financial Services Datasheet]

Mark Bowker, Senior Analyst at ESG, also noted that:

“VMware is demonstrating its focus on addressing the pain of application installs at scale, in complex environments.”

He is absolutely correct, as you will see with App Volumes 2.12. The bits are available on my.vmware.com. We look forward to working with customers and partners.

To learn more about App Volumes, please visit vmware.com/products/appvolumes.

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