Once in a while you encounter a simple but brilliantly refreshing idea. This happened to me a couple of weeks ago. My colleague Matthias Wessner was in the Amsterdam HQ for a visit, and dropped by my office. He asked if I had seen the movie he mailed me two weeks before. I shamefully admitted I completely missed it.
“Ok, I will show you” he said, and popped open his laptop. After the VM’s were up and running he started the demo. “See this GUI? Just select the MSI you want to install from that GUI, and wait for it…” One minute later the desktop shortcut appeared and he could start the application.
Wait a sec… it is virtualized with App-V!
This was only one week after Briforum Chicago and one week before Citrix announced the RingCube acquisition. One of the hotter topics today is clearly User Installed Apps. Matthias just demoed User Installed Applications utilizing Microsoft App-V! “Interesting!” I said, “This is very, very interesting, and that is an understatement… Do you realize how everyone in our industry tries to tackle this problem… and you just did with App-V… Wow!”.
So what did Matthias show me?
The concept is not too complicated: Matthias created a tool called ‘Login BYOapp’. Within BYOapp you can select a MSI and it will prepare the MSI for a sequencer VM which is ready and waiting. Once the MSI is available to the sequence VM, automatically it starts in silent mode the sequencing of the MSI. Once this is finished, automatically the now virtualized app is added to the App-V cache of the desktop the user is working on.
Although this implementation is in its most early form, we thought the concept is so cool we should share it with you. There are real benefits, and like any other solution in this world, there are limitations.
Lets first discuss the benefits:
- With Login BYOapp you can introduce User Installed Apps if you are using Microsoft App-V, without introduction of a new virtualization technologies and management tooling/infrastructure.
- These user installed applications are potentially reusable for other users! (This is not specifically implemented in this version, but we already have a user installed app store/catalog in the works.)
- You can easily back-up and re-import the applications when the desktop VM is refreshed. (Also not implemented yet, but surely part of future versions.)
- From an administration point of view, you can easily track and copy which applications users have added. (Again, this is planned for future versions…)
- The application is fully virtualized, so there is no risk of any conflict or corruption of the OS and other personal or business applications. Off course, this is fundamental to using App-V.
The current version (and the concept in general) also have some limitations:
- You need an MS App-V license.
- It does not work with RDS/XenApp/SBC/TS etc, it only works with (semi-) stateful VDI, PC’s and Laptops.
- The automatic addition of the virtualized app to the local App-V cache is only working when App-V is not integrated in SCCM: we are currently investigating if this is possible.
- This version of BYOapp only does silent installs. This can be an issue when for instance the default file type associations are not correct. However, we are working on a solution where the interactive setup is remoted. As a result, the user can customize the installation to it’s own needs, including FTA.
- The current version only accepts MSI, but future versions will probably accept any format.
- This only works with apps, this is not a layering solution that also captures changes on an OS level.
- Login BYOapp will never replace enterprise application packaging/sequencing.
Please remember, this is the first release of Login BYOapp. It is basic, but we thought the concept is interesting enough to share with you.
We have many ideas where we want to go with BYOapp: an interactive install is absolutely critical to it usability in enterprise environment. But also, a ‘user installed app store’ and tracking/back-up/import functionality is high on our feature list. In addition, we are working on the fully automated management of the sequencer VM’s (reset after sequencing) and the possibility to have a pool of sequencer VM’s. Lastly, we are also investigating the use of other application virtualization solutions.
I always assumed Microsoft would innovate much more with the Softgrid/App-V technologies than they are doing now. For instance, developing it as a replacement for MSI and using it as a technology to allow user installed apps. Matthias beat them to it...
You can download this first and free version of ‘Login BYOapp’ from our website (registration required).