Should VMware (and others) make their AppVolumes packager available to everyone for free?

There was a lot of talk at VMworld last month about AppVolumes. Project A2 demonstrated VMware's vision to use AppVolumes to deploy apps to traditional "fat client" Windows desktops (in addition to being able to use it to deploy to VDI and RDSH-based desktops).

There was a lot of talk at VMworld last month about AppVolumes. Project A2 demonstrated VMware’s vision to use AppVolumes to deploy apps to traditional “fat client” Windows desktops (in addition to being able to use it to deploy to VDI and RDSH-based desktops).

So that got me thinking.. Should VMware release their AppVolumes packager for free so anyone (including software vendors) can package their apps in that format?

This concept could be extended to all application packaging vendors. (FSLogix, Liquidware Labs, etc.)

Of course to use an app packaged this way, you’d need to have their agent installed on the target desktop. And then you’d have to think about how licensing works. (I assume the client agent would be what’s licensed then?) So this isn’t a large scale, lets-replace-the-MSI type concept, but in terms of these vendors trying to get traction for their products, it could be interesting if they made their packagers available for free so vendors and anyone else who wants to provide pre-packaged versions of their apps ready to go and simple to consume for customers.

This is something we originally talked about with Microsoft App-V (and even before that with Softricity) ten years ago. At that time I thought the App-V package format would replace MSIs. "With the benefits of App-V, why would anyone ever want to use an MSI?” (Again, this was ten years ago. I didn’t know… :)

Of course today’s modern app packagers work differently than MSIs and App-V packages. Some of them lend themselves more to this concept than others. (Some are more like sets of rules that hide installed apps versus “full” packages.)

And there are lots of logistics to figure out about support, client agent installation, and use cases.

So maybe it’s not a great idea.

Still, though, making the packager available for free could be a good idea? It would encourage as many people as possible to package their apps in that format. More people using the same format is good for everyone. Makes sense, I think?

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Before any of this is seriously considered, you have to ask yourself, "how does this benefit VMware"?  At the end of the day, VMware is trying to make money like anyone else.  Does offering a free version locally running AppVolumes make sense financially?


Perhaps perhaps VMware can offer a free version with community support and minimal features.  A paid version would have full support and unlock all features.


Perhaps they can offer it in a way that greatly encourages companies to buy into AirWatch.  You get all the application packaging features, but to really unleash it's management capabilities, you need AirWatch.  


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absolutely, they did something similar when I worked with Altiris SVS, they published a version free for personal use, eventually Wise Package Studio integrated the technology into their packaging suite and vendors started to provide options for MSI or SVS packages, that was 10 years ago, but great idea.


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I think the first step that has to happen is first of all, ISVs recognizing the importance of App Virtualization solutions and then, release official guides on how to get their apps virtualized.


The issue today is most ISVs either refuse to support their apps in virtualized form OR they simply never tested/heard of any app-virtualization solution. Until this is fixed, making whatever solution free will solve nothing if what I run under it is 100% unsupported.


I think it is time for the big fish out there to start pushing vendors towards an app-virtualization model. Simple things like adding it to IDEs so these can not only spit compiled code BUT full virtualized packages will go a long way on making these mainstream.


But again, the main thing is start by providing customers guidelines on how to get your software virtualized. That would help quite a bit.


CR


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To Brian’s point this concept is not new. I have spent a significant amount of time in the application virtualization space and have had mixed results with respect to this concept. First we need to separate the concept into its main components. FREE is not really an option for vendors to Rick’s point above. Everyone is in this business to make money. Keep in mind that customers still have to have a valid license to deploy the corresponding application layers. So if we separate the application layer capture process from the deployment process then we have some options.


If for example, we can provide a no cost application layer capture process option for vendors, we would be expediting technology adoption with vendors. Then the opportunity for application layer versions of vendor software download links becomes available. FlexApp Layers are portable enough to be created as VHD’s and then converted to VMDK’s as needed. This will provide a tremendous amount of flexibility as vendors explore the technology.


Liquidware Labs is committed to application layer platform adoption and will support vendors willing to explore new opportunities with FlexApp.


Ray


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The problem with App-V or any App packaging/delivery solution is that IT folks today understands Virtualizing servers but have no concept of application packaging & customization.  The only thing they know is "next-next-next."  They don't understand that most corporate apps requires customization and even branding before delivery.  They think it's easier to have an admin do the install on a server and provision those server images rather than do the proper app customization using app-v and deliver the app on any Windows OS.


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VMware and Citrix has always charge for extra features, ie; App-V. There are rising companies out there that are able to deliver apps w/o the extra licensing; such as Parallels RAS. I think VMware is taking notice that there are SMB's out there spend money just like the enterprise environments.


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