It has been a while since I posted the last article in my series about software virtualization. I have been working on a German article about this topic. During my research I learned new things which I am going to share in the next posts in this series. Today’s post covers the advantages of application virtualization. Of course, there also disadvantages which I will address in the next post.
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No installation required: Installing an application on hundreds or thousands of computers is prone to error. Application virtualization simplifies software deployment.
Application retirement simplified: Getting rid of an app in your whole network is much easier as well. Since virtual apps just have to be deleted, uninstalling them is usually not required.
No more application conflicts: Sometimes installing an app corrupts another app. Application virtualization helps reduce the risks of application conflicts.
No registry and system bloat: The more apps you install on a desktop, the more bloated its registry and system folder will get. This makes the computer slower and increases the risk of failures. Application virtualization lets the registry and the system folder untouched.
Multiple runtime environments: You can deploy the runtime environment together with the application. This enables you to run different versions of a runtime environment on a desktop. For example, you can run different Java versions simultaneously without messing around with environment variables.
Multiple versions of the same application: For instance, end users can run Word 2003 and Word 2007 at the same time.
Deploy apps on unmanaged computers: If clients or partners have to use an app to access the services of your organization, you can just send them an executable where you have already configured everything for them.
Application updates: You can update the virtualized application at a central location on your servers. This means you have to update an app only once and not on all of your desktops.
Rollback: If an app no longer works properly on a user’s desktop because he or she changed too many settings or installed incompatible add-ons, you can just reset the app to its original state.
Simplified roaming: Some products allow you to store settings and data belonging to the app in the virtual environment on a server or a memory stick. This way, end users can access their apps with their own settings regardless on which desktop they logon. This is also possible if you are not working with roaming user profiles.
Simplified OS deployment: Deploying a new OS in your network doesn’t affect the applications. Also, if you have to reinstall an image on a desktop, you don’t have to worry about the apps running on this machine because end users can just access them on the server.
Integration with desktop virtualization: Software virtualization and desktop virtualization perfectly harmonize because these technologies allow you to separate the OS deployment process from software distribution.
Reduced regression testing: Once you know that your app works in the virtual environment, you don’t have to make sure that it works on all of the different desktop variations in your network. Changes on desktops usually don’t have an effect on the virtualized apps.
Improved security: Virtualized apps are isolated from the operating system and from each other. This way, malware can’t infect other parts of the system, easily .
Helpdesk support: Helpdesk personnel can easily access all available apps in your organization and can run the app in the same environment as end users.
Operating system independent: Virtualized apps are often OS independent. If you have apps that are Vista incompatible, then application virtualization might be your solution. Application virtualization also paves the way for Vista x64. Legacy apps that wouldn’t work on a 64-bit-system might run without problems on Vista x64 in a virtual environment. Together with Wine and Crossover, you can also run complex Windows apps on Linux and OS X.
End users require only minimal privileges: Legacy apps that require admin rights usually work in environments where end-users only have standard rights.
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This is quite an impressive list of advantages. Don’t you think so? Did I forget something? Please, let me know. The list of disadvantages is coming soon. Stay tuned!