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Today’s post was written by Virtualization MVP Ruben Spruijt.
Today, Microsoft has released the latest version of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), MDOP 2011, containing Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V) 4.6 SP1 and Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) 2.0. These latest versions of Microsoft Desktop Virtualization offerings will make application and desktop delivery faster and easier than ever before.
App-V has been part of the Microsoft technology stack for almost five years. The latest version, App-V 4.6 Service Pack 1 has been designed to make the packaging of applications, called “sequencing” easier, faster and more predictable. The new App-V Sequencer provides a way to save time and to make packaging complex applications for App-V easier with App-V Package Accelerators. It automates best practices and provides integrated problem notification (diagnostics) to help detect sequencing issues. It allows App-V administrators to save common sets of settings for fast re-use with App-V Project Templates. The new sequencer eliminates the need to install applications to short “8.3” character directory names. There have also been user interface and workflow improvements designed to make App-V sequencing easier for both new and experienced users.
Microsoft’s with MED-V 2.0 is to provide IT departments with a solution to deliver legacy applications to Windows 7 with the least amount of management overhead. It’s a great solution in IT’s toolbox. From an end-user’s perspective, the legacy application is integrated and presented smoothly and seamlessly. MED-V 2.0 is designed to allow faster and easier deployment when compared to MED-V version 1. MED-V v2 integrates with existing management systems and requires no dedicated management infrastructure. It provides more options for URL redirection, including wildcards. It integrates seamlessly with the Windows 7 My Documents and Desktop directories, and automatically synchronizes the host’s network printers with the virtual workspace. It also provides USB device support, including support for flash storage devices and smartcard readers.
The dynamic delivery of desktops and applications is part of a broader strategy of the Optimized Desktop. Making the right set of applications available to the end user is probably the most important function of an Information Technology (IT) infrastructure. With dynamic delivery, our goal is to allow users to work on- or off-site, on-or off-line, anywhere at any time. As you design the solution that best suits the needs of your users and your organization, ask yourself these questions:
1. Where will you execute your applications?
The execution platform, the actual CPU, memory, disc and network resources used to execute Windows and web-based applications is an important decision. Examples of execution platforms are desktop PCs, laptops, Smartphones, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and Remote Desktop Services (RDS). Will your applications be executed locally on the user’s compute device or will they be executed remotely in a datacenter? Every platform has its own characteristics. In practice, most organizations will use a mixture of platforms. “Less is more,” “Cut out the exceptions,” and “Manage diversity” are good theories to keep in mind as you make platform decisions.
2. How will you deliver applications to your platform?
We need to make applications available to users. We can do this with traditional software installation or using virtualization. With traditional installation, we can attempt to automate the process so applications are delivered in an unattended manner, but the execution platform is altered by the installation process. When we use application virtualization (such as App-V) to deliver applications, the applications are available on demand without altering the configuration of the execution platform.
When I speak with customers during workshops, I’m regularly asked, “What is the difference between application deployment and delivery, and why should I use App-V?” Here’s what I tell them. With traditional application deployment, applications are installed directly on the execution platform. With App-V, applications are no longer installed, but can be made available almost instantly and executed without altering the platform. So, App-V enables fast delivery while eliminating the chance for application conflicts. This considerably reduces the time and costs it would take to package and deliver locally installed applications.
Through Microsoft App-V’s application streaming and virtualization solution, Windows applications can run without changing the local operating system. The applications run as though they have been installed and can save data and print. The advantages of delivering applications with App-V include speed of delivery and upgrade, ability to roll-back and the easy of application support. When applications are delivered on-demand through App-V, users can access them on desktops, laptops, on server-hosted VDI and RDS environments. Microsoft App-V 4.6 is a key component of the Optimized Desktop.
The migration of applications to a new operating system platform such as Windows 7 has a huge impact on the planning, design, build-process and eventual migration to the Optimized Desktop; especially when considerations such as 64-bit and application virtualization are also involved. Some questions to keep in mind during migration projects are:
There are tools available that can help as you plan your operating system migration strategy. Solutions like the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit can play an important role in assessing application compatibility and ultimately help with remediation.
Migrating to Windows 7 is on the agenda of almost every company. It’s not a question of “if” but “when.” App-V is useful for a lot of applications, and can be strategic in migration projects, but there are also legacy applications that just won’t run on Windows 7. Internet Explorer 6 is one example. How can you run your Internet Explorer 6-only applications on Windows 7, which uses Internet Explorer 8 or Internet Explorer 9? One options is VDI, another is RDS. A third option is Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization 2.0, released today as part of MDOP 2011. With MED-V, a virtual workspace running Windows XP is installed on Windows 7 clients. Internet Explorer 6, runs inside the virtual workspace and is presented seamlessly on Windows 7. Administrators can choose which URLs from the local browser should be redirected to the legacy browser
It’s important to have a vision and strategy for your application and desktop delivery. Designing, building, managing and maintaining an Optimized Desktop infrastructure using the right technologies is an important step. Microsoft App-V 4.6 SP1 brings agility and dynamic access to the Optimized (virtual) Desktop. Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) 2.0 adds a lean and mean migration solution to the IT Pro’s toolbox.
Download MDOP 2011 today from the Microsoft Volume Licensing website, or from MSDN or TechNet. And be sure to check out the Springboard Desktop Virtualization Zone for more information on Microsoft Desktop Virtualization technologies.
Ruben Spruijt, born in 1975, studied Computer Science and has worked as a Solutions Architect at PQR since 2002. Ruben’s primary focus is Application and Desktop Delivery along with hardware and software virtualization. Ruben is a Microsoft Most Value Professional (MVP), and a Citrix Technology Professional (CTP). At various local and international conferences Ruben presents his vision and knowledge of ‘Application and Desktop Delivery’ and virtualization solutions. He has written several articles that have been published by professional magazines and professional websites. You can follow Ruben on Twitter.