On 1st November, Microsoft released the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for 2012. This is fantastic news because it includes one of my favourite Microsoft products – Application Virtualization (or App-V). The latest version of App-V released is 5.0, and there are major changes in the way that App-V is going to treat the virtualization of applications. A quick snapshot of the what’s new in App-V 5.0, taken directly from the Microsoft MDOP App-V page, are:
- An integrated platform: Virtual Applications leverage Windows standards for a consistent user experience. With App-V 5.0, virtual applications work more like traditionally installed applications. This means that users don’t have to change the way they use an application just because it’s virtual. It also makes it easy for IT to work with virtual applications. Diagnostic messages provide meaningful feedback, helping users resolve problems on their own.
- Flexible Virtualization: Businesses can connect separately packaged App-V applications, enabling them to communicate with each other and with traditionally installed applications. This gives businesses the best of both worlds, providing isolation – reducing conflict and time spent regression testing – yet allowing applications to interact and communicate when needed.
- Powerful management of virtualized applications: App-V 5.0 allows IT to deploy, track and service virtual applications. With new, web-based management interface based on Silverlight, IT can manage applications without being tied to an installed management console. And App-V 5.0 is designed to be easy and efficient to use in VDI environments, allowing IT to make the best use of expensive disk resources without changing the way they get their jobs done. It lets IT simply choose to turn off local application storage, dramatically reducing disk requirements for VDI while leaving the application provisioning and update process unchanged.
For a video overview of App-V 5.0, click here. Unfortunately, I cannot embed any Technet videos into this site, so I will have to get you to click on the link and go directly to the video page.
Microsoft Technet has an MDOP demonstrations page, which can be seen here (I can’t embed Technet videos, so will have to resort to linking to them). The videos are really good for an introduction to application virtualization, and will have you wanting to dive in straight away. To get you straight to the App-V 5.0 videos, I have linked to them below.
- App-V 5.0 Overview
- App-V 5.0 Virtual Application Connection
- App-V 5.0 Dynamic Configuration
- App-V 5.0 Sequencer
- App-V 5.0 Coexistence and Migration
- App-V 5.0 Shared Content Store
One final thought from me for a bit of a real-world example. I am an application packaging specialist as part of my role, and there are always problematic applications that seem to never want to package properly for automated deployment. They are – amongst other things – poorly written, install per-user or just have no silent switches to install with a management system. For these kinds of applications, App-V is a winner. Three apps/middle-ware with these problems I have had the “privilege” of getting deployed are: Quest Software Toad for Oracle 10.6.1.3, Oracle 9i client and Oracle 11G client. They are cumbersome and pesky to install (even when done manually), but by virtualizing them, it has saved a lot of time for the Service Desk and end-user. I virtualized each of them individually, dynamically linked them and now we don’t need to re-install and configure these apps when hardware is changed or a new SOE is deployed. All we do is ensure users are a member of the groups with access to the applications, and when they logon they will see a shortcut to the application. When they open the application, it will download and run exactly as if it is installed.