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Integrating VMware ThinApp with a Citrix XenApp Implementation

By Tina de Benedictis, Technical Marketing Manager, Enterprise Desktop, VMware End User Computing

If you have a Citrix XenApp implementation, have you considered adding VMware ThinApp virtualized applications to enhance XenApp application presentation?

By virtualizing the Windows applications that you present with XenApp, you can overcome some of the limitations of XenApp. ThinApp is the premier virtualization tool for Windows applications. For more information about the advantages of virtualizing your legacy Windows applications with ThinApp, see VMware ThinApp: Application Virtualization Made Simple.

How does VMware ThinApp enhance XenApp?

ThinApp packages make the XenApp deployment more efficient and solve many of the problems of XenApp implementations. XenApp becomes better with ThinApp virtualized applications through the following capabilities:

  • Requires only a single application instance: With ThinApp in a XenApp implementation, you need only one copy of the virtualized application stored on a ThinApp file share. With other applications presented with XenApp, you must install the same application on each of the XenApp Servers in your server farm, and each of these native installations must be individually maintained.
  • Application conflict is eliminated: To avoid application conflicts, Citrix isolates applications from each other via XenApp silos, which requires additional hardware. ThinApp isolates applications with software, not hardware. ThinApp virtual applications are isolated from each other and therefore can be placed on the same XenApp Server. 
  • Recovery is simpler: If a XenApp Server fails, you have to reinstall the XenApp server. However, if you have stored your virtual applications separately on a ThinApp file share, you have only the baseline XenApp server to reinstall, and you do not have to reinstall the applications. 
  • Updates are simpler and faster with ThinApp: With a standard Citrix XenApp setup, you must update each natively installed application on each XenApp Server, and you need to take each server offline to update the applications. If you use ThinApp to virtualize applications, you update only the single application on the file share, and ThinApp applications can be updated automatically while in use.
  • ThinApp can virtualize IE6, and the migration to Windows 7 is eased: ThinApp allows you to virtualize Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 (IE6), and you can package IE6 along with a legacy application that depends upon IE6 or an older version of Java. Users can run virtual IE6 alongside a later version of native IE on the same desktop. The migration to Windows 7 or to later Windows versions becomes easier if you have the option of carrying forward any IE6-dependent legacy applications.

For full details on these points, see Integrating VMware View and VMware ThinApp with Citrix XenApp, which also suggests adding VMware View to the implementation.

How do you integrate ThinApp with XenApp?

With ThinApp virtual applications on a file share and shortcuts to those applications on a XenApp Terminal Server, the ThinApp packages stream over the LAN to the XenApp Server. The XenApp Server provides the ThinApp applications to users as standard XenApp published applications, available over the Internet or a WAN or LAN.


Figure 1: ThinApp Virtual Applications Streamed to the XenApp Server, Then Remotely Displayed to Endpoints 

To enable ThinApp packages for XenApp presentation, you create XenApp published applications as you would for natively installed applications on a XenApp Server. The ThinApp applications appear as standard XenApp published applications to all authorized end users running either Citrix Receiver or the Citrix Web Interface.


Figure 2: ThinApp Virtual Application Presented by XenApp

If you want to combine XenApp application presentation and ThinApp application virtualization with the VMware virtual desktop solution, VMware View, see:

Integrating VMware View and VMware ThinApp with Citrix XenApp