Apps are proliferating and they are everywhere. Admins are tasked with packaging, delivering, managing, and securing those apps, whether they’re locally installed on laptops or mobile devices, delivered through the web or SaaS, or accessed through VDI, DaaS, or published apps environments. Multiple versions of enterprise apps may be deployed in the data center, while more modern apps may be delivered across multiple clouds.
Many organizations utilize VDI, DaaS, and published app environments to securely host and deliver virtual apps, including legacy apps tied to the data center. While VDI, DaaS, and published app deployments have aided the way IT admins can securely deliver apps to end users at scale, there are common challenges in published app environments like Citrix Virtual Apps (formerly XenApp). For example, IT typically deploys groups of servers into farms, silos, or delivery groups to host their published apps for users. These servers are architected to scale to the peak usage of the apps being hosted. And when users don’t use apps, these server resources sit idle and are wasted. Server optimization is the whole point of virtualization. These farms are expensive and require IT time to be managed.
Also, IT admins must manage the copies of apps on each farm and independently manage OS updates on each host, leading to inefficiencies as app and server counts increase. Running antiquated and inefficient app environments can lead to inflated costs, app-lifecycle management challenges, and incompatibility of apps.
Apps on Demand for published app environments is now generally available!
For IT admins, there is a better path forward, one that allows them to publish apps exactly when the users need them instead of keeping app farms “always on.”
VMware is thrilled to announce that Apps on Demand for published app environments is now available. This innovative feature builds on the Apps on Demand functionality, powered by VMware App Volumes, that was released last year. It is a key feature of the Apps Everywhere vision that will help customers simplify app lifecycle management.
With Apps on Demand, apps are attached to generic RDSH servers only at the time users launch apps. Moreover, the users’ apps are enabled just in their session. As users launch apps, they are loaded and served to the user in real time on the available RDSH host. A new host is only stood up when the last host reaches an IT-defined threshold capacity. This on-demand “farm-less” model dramatically reduces the number of servers needed to support your users and apps, associated infrastructure costs, and management time. Let’s understand these benefits in more detail.
Watch an overview and demo of Apps on Demand for published app environments:
1. Reduce VDI infrastructure costs = Deliver a better ROI
IT has always been asked to do more with less. Current business and economic environments will likely squeeze IT budgets even further. Traditional published apps require that capacity planning is done with dedicated resources and peak app usage in mind. This process can result in highly underutilized server resources. When more apps are required, IT adds more servers to support the demand, thus piling on the existing underutilized resources. Managing more servers also means additional overhead costs.
This vicious cycle of resource capacity planning, plus the legacy way of keeping farms and servers on 24×7, leads to high infrastructure costs. Managing the complex mix of app resources drives up IT’s Day 2 management challenges for reasons such as app copy management on each farm, managing OS updates, and app patching. Plus, application rollback is not truly supported for all the apps, thus limiting IT in disaster recovery scenarios.
Apps on Demand for published apps helps IT consolidate the legacy app farms and servers, including those in Citrix environments. New app servers get spun up only when the end users need the apps, helping IT optimize the infrastructure costs. Additionally, IT packages apps once. They are then delivered across RDSH hosts, data centers, and clouds — all while utilizing available capacity before adding any new resources. Simply put, Apps on Demand minimizes your infrastructure needs, reducing related costs and delivering a higher ROI on your infrastructure spend.
2. Make app and image management more efficient = Reduce IT burden
Traditional app management is complex. For example:
- IT must manage copies of apps on each server
- Host OS updates can be done only during certain timeframes,
- Changes to apps or the OS can impact app performance and reliability
With even a small number of apps, the complexity is such that it’s often easier to add new farm capacity for new apps instead of trying to modify the existing resources. At its core, the root of the complexity comes down to apps being tied into specific farms, creating a multitude of unique environments. This runs counter to one of the foundational pillars of virtual apps: eliminating snowflake environments to reduce the management burden.
With Apps on Demand in App Volumes, IT can separate the OS layer from the app layer and dynamically deliver apps. This means IT does not have to coordinate management of everything at once. In fact, this makes both the host OS team and App team function more efficiently and almost independently.
Apps on Demand for published app environments also allows IT to leverage user-based entitlements. User-based entitlements allow IT to follow the users as they use different apps, instead of managing entitlements individually on each app server. This results in time savings to manage app entitlements and minimizes costly entitlement errors. Plus, IT can focus on other strategic activities.
3. Transform and modernize apps across clouds = Deliver better end-user experience
Customers have long asked for the ability to move their existing published apps to the cloud to reduce hardware and enhance resource flexibility. Legacy apps can become blockers to cloud migration, however, as they can’t easily be upgraded to modern file types required for use in the cloud. This creates a challenge for customers, necessitating two sets of apps: legacy on-premises based and modern cloud based, doubling the management overhead.
IT also finds it cumbersome and error prone to update and patch apps irrespective of location of apps; whether on premises or in the cloud. This means higher IT effort, mounting management costs, and unwanted overhead.
App Volumes handles all types of applications. IT admins have been able to easily move their legacy apps to the cloud with 99% app compatibility. All you need is the EXE, MSI, ZIP, JAR, or even no installer at all. IT can also use additional virtualization formats like ThinApp and MSIX app attach. In fact, App Volumes will work with an existing MSIX app attach package leveraging Microsoft’s built-in virtualization alongside App Volumes formatted packages. With all these options, you can rest assured you can virtually deliver all your necessary apps to your end users irrespective of where they are hosted. If you have a cloud initiative that’s been delayed due to virtualized legacy apps in the data center, your problem is solved without re-coding. Apps on Demand also simplifies app lifecycle management — including updates, patching, and redeploying apps — across different VDI, DaaS, and app environments, like Horizon, Citrix, and Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop with Windows 10 multi-session.
4. Access apps everywhere = Deliver apps faster
The clients, such as the Horizon client, allow published apps to be accessed directly without an additional windows desktop. And because apps are brought to the user session dynamically and not isolated from each other across sessions, the apps can talk to each other as the authors intended and the users expect. Simple Windows interoperability functions like copy/paste, opening apps in a browser, and Component Object Model (COM)/OLE/ActiveX and shared registry keys just work. Retaining these traditional capabilities, plus jumping straight to the app from your device, are two big wins for the end user.
5. Allow IT teams to work collaboratively yet independently = Manage app environments efficiently
Often the desktop admin is burdened with coordinating updates for multiple app changes to an image while it is updated. Now desktop admins can manage the image and delivery of applications while providing tools to make it easy to asynchronously manage and update apps.
Learn more about VMware App Volumes and Apps on Demand
Want to see all this in action? Watch this demo video (also embedded above) to see how Apps on Demand revolutionizes app management for VDI, DaaS, and published app environments.
To learn more about what we are doing with partners around the complete application lifecycle, see our earlier article: “Modernize Windows App Lifecycle Management with VMware App Volumes and Key Partners.”
Do you want to try this feature for your VDI environment today? Run a quick evaluation for yourself.