Greetings! Hope you are familiar with the recent MDOP product launched by now and are actively evaluating or deploying the technologies to help address the specific pain points of your organization. Today I want to take his opportunity to focus on one the partners for Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) – Flexera Software and how they are helping App-V customers profile applications that are good candidates for application virtualization and also easily convert applications into App-V packages.
Many companies are actively looking at incorporating application virtualization within their environments. Because virtualization alleviates many application to application compatibility issues, it’s certainly an attractive solution and, when done correctly, there is a significant cost advantage as IT doesn’t have to spend all that time on regression testing and they can focus on providing users on demand access to applications they need to get their work done. In addition, many of the trappings of preparing a deployable, packaged application are unnecessary when generating a virtualized application.
The key question then becomes: which applications can be virtualized? One way to find out is by using Flexera Software’s Virtualization Pack for AdminStudio. The Virtualization Pack identifies qualified applications painlessly and quickly. Not only that, but for applications that can be virtualized, the Virtualization Pack can convert those packages into App-V packages just as easily.
Qualifying App-V Applications
Let’s start by taking a look at how the Virtualization Pack qualifies applications. In this scenario, I’ve imported a dozen or so applications into the Flexera Software Application Catalog. Once in the catalog, I can use the Test Center to evaluate these packages. After evaluation, I can use a report to scope and budget my options: What are my problem packages? Which applications can I virtualize immediately? Which applications are going to take most of my time (and therefore budget) to migrate?
Importing applications is done through the Catalog tab of the Application Manager. Importing consists of reading the tables and summary information from the Windows Installer package into a SQL Server database. Reading this data into the database allows the Test Center to not only access that data directly, but also run comparisons against all other packages. In my case in the above image (this is just an example and not representative of a real customer scenario), Alive and E-Z Audit are not a good candidates for App-V, and however, AbsoluteFTP, Atomic Clock Sync and AuraLine are. From this report, I can drill deeper to find out the exact issues that prohibit virtualization.
A significant number of issues can be resolved automatically. Those issues are identified in the Test Center by the wrench icon. To resolve all issues across all applications, right-click on the ‘Applications’ root view and select ‘Resolve Issues.’ The same process can be done for individual applications—right-click on the application name and again select ‘Resolve Issues.’ Issue resolution is done through the creation of a corresponding transform (and, if necessary, a .CAB file) for the package. Re-running the virtualization tests with the transform applied removes the issues from the report view.
Once a test runs, there are two different ways to see the results. First, we can look at the individual application and see the status of each test (upper left). Second, we can aggregate the test results from each application into a report view (right). Both methods serve a different purpose. The first is intended for the packager working directly on the package. The second is intended for scope and budget meetings with the migration team.
Moving to App-V
After the virtualization evaluation is finished, we now have applications that can be intelligently converted directly to App-V. Converting to App-V within the Flexera Software environment can be done in bulk or individually. In our case, we could convert our existing (and remediated) applications through the Automated Application Converter (AAC). For future applications, they can be converted singly through the Flexera Software InstallShield product.
For bulk import, nothing is quicker than using the AAC. Point the AAC at a folder and, if necessary, a virtual environment and turn it loose. The AAC evaluates each package. In most cases, the conversion happens directly. If additional work is needed, it’s handled automatically: AAC spins up the virtual environment, converts the package to remove any limits to virtualization and creates the virtualized application. This process occurs with no interaction; the AAC processes each package until finished.
For individual applications, the Virtualization Pack extends InstallShield’s functionality to create virtualized applications. All of the options required to create a virtualized application are exposed within the user interface. This includes the ability to include diagnostic tools (registry and file system viewers), setting file / folder isolation, setting registry isolation options and enabling dynamic suiting.
If a virtual application requires more finesse, the Virtual Package Editor (VPE) is available. Functionally, the VPE serves as a lightweight version of the InstallShield environment. With the VPE, you can edit the App-V application directly.
As a quick note, currently App-V 4.6 SP2 and earlier is supported. The next release of AdminStudio includes support for App-V 5.0—including conversion from App-V 4.6 to 5.0.
Ready for Deployment
Since it’s already within our catalog, we can make the application directly available in System Center Configuration Manager.
Under the Deployment Data tab, I can add / modify the information about the package prior to distributing to System Center Configuration Manager. All of the relevant System Center Configuration Manager information is available: detection methods, identifying requirements and dependencies, and providing supersedence.
While not directly related to the scope of this blog, I want to point out that everything we’ve discussed can be automated. AdminStudio’s Virtualization Pack supports a rich set of automation (great for PowerShell!) as well as healthy command line arguments.
To wrap things up, the AdminStudio Virtualization Pack does an incredible job evaluating and converting your applications to App-V. Based on the above steps, you’ll be able to integrate this product with App-V and also streamline your operating system migration process. If you are interested in learning about our customer success stories please go here. And If you’d like to give AdminStudio with Virtualization Pack a try, click here to register for your free 21-day evaluation. To learn more about App-V and other Microsoft Desktop Virtualization products, make sure to visit our Desktop Virtualization Zone on Springboard.