This article, the sixth of seven in a series covering the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), will detail Application Virtualization by Microsoft (App-V)

While server virtualization and desktop virtualization have been dominant technologies over the last few years, software virtualization has yet to be so widely adopted. The benefits of hardware virtualization are constantly touted but software virtualization has a persuasive list of merits. The main benefits of software virtualization are to ensure conflicts never arise between programs, real time software usage metrics, and for ease of upgrading.

App-V - In this package, some shell extensions were found to be unsupported

In this package, some shell extensions were found to be unsupported.

Software virtualization allows you to take any interference that a machine or user could have out of the equation. Essentially, the software is transformed into an on-demand service instead of being an integrated part of the operating system. Microsoft’s solution to software virtualization is called App-V. In App-V, this process is called sequencing.

In order to create a virtualized version of a particular piece of software, the Microsoft Application Virtualization Sequencer is ran on a sequencing machine. It is a best practice to use a clean virtual machine as a sequencing computer. Virtual machines allow for snapshots to be quickly taken at any point. After the successful creation of a virtualized package, the VM can be instantly reverted back to a clean state.

App-V - The Application Virtualization Sequencer is designed for simplicity

The Application Virtualization Sequencer is designed for simplicity.

New virtual applications can be created by either using the default setting or choosing a package accelerator. Package accelerators are essentially pre-defined settings necessary for package creation that have been published for you to use. Creating a virtual package is as easy as installing the software while App-V monitors. After the application is installed, App-V captures the changes into a virtual package. App-V even allows for the configuration of first run settings. This allows for default settings and software activations to be deployed with the package for all users. Upon finishing the package, the Sequencer will automatically present any issues seen with the package.

After the package has been created, the package is then copied to the Content share. The Content share allows for the central management of all App-V packages. The package can then be be published. Publishing a package is done in the Application Virtualization Management Console. This console can either be installed on an App-V server or an administrator computer.

App-V - Import applications

Selecting Import Applications will allow you to publish packages in the content share.

An important feature of App-V is the ability to manage licenses. When importing a package, the software can be linked to an Application License group. This License group can be setup as a site/unlimited license, concurrent license, or as a named (managed) license.

One of the greatest features of App-V is the reporting mechanism. Windows administrators tasked with license upkeep or software updates are plagued by the inability to monitor software usage based on time, computer, or user. When a virtual application is executed at a client, the usage metrics are automatically recorded. This reporting allows for a more knowledge based approach in licensing management or software upkeep. Organizations may find that fewer licenses are needed for some software and that other software isn’t even used anymore.

App-V - Application report

An application report for 7-Zip can be generated for a variety of time frames, this one is for a single day.

While App-V consists of more steps than simply installing software on a client, the centralized deployment, license management, and usage reporting makes a compelling case to virtualize. Organizations may find that the vast majority of software could be virtualized with App-V. This would lead to quicker mass deployments, faster application upgrades, and better software usage. App-V adds to the already strong suite of MDOP products.

1 Comment
  1. JohnDepth 10 years ago

    Interesting solution!
    But I prefer BoxedApp SDK for virtualization.

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