Application compatibility (or “app compat”) is one of the most important issues when architecting, designing, or implementing a desktop or application virtualization solution. After all, if you have an application that’s not compatible with your delivery solution, well, then you pretty much have no choice but to not use that solution!
In the earliest days of Terminal Server and Citrix MetaFrame, everyone knew there were some apps that just wouldn’t work on MetaFrame. Some had issues where they wouldn’t work on the multi-user Terminal Server platform, and others had graphical or peripheral problems that prevented them from running in a remote host-based computing environment.
A few years later, application virtualization and streaming technologies were introduced that “fixed” a lot of the problems that apps had in Terminal Server environments. Unfortunately, not all apps were compatible with the streaming solutions either, so you ended up with a patchwork of apps that would only work with one delivery method but not another. (And of course you still had some apps that wouldn’t work with any non-traditional delivery mechanism.)
Over time, we all just grew to accept that not all apps could be brought into our alternative environments, and that our “old way” of doing things would probably have to be around forever to support some crazy legacy application.
Of course the holy grail of app virtualization is the mythical “100% compatibility.” We’re all fantasizing about a future where all apps can be virtualized and where nothing needs to be done the “old” way. But how close are we to such a world?
Citrix’s “myth” campaign
If you ask Citrix, they’ll tell you that we’re pretty close. In fact Citrix has recently launched a massive multi-pronged viral campaign debunking application compatibility “myths.” In other words, they’re saying, “it’s a myth that so many apps are not compatible with XenApp.”
One piece of this campaign is a 5-part YouTube video where each video debunks a certain “myth” about XenApp application compatibility. For example, in Part 1, Citrix’s Bill Hartwick talks about the Citrix Ready community-verified app website where people discuss and “certify” apps to run on XenApp. He also touches on AppDNA’s APPtitude, a tool that analyzes your applications to see what delivery platforms they’ll work on. (Tim Mangan reviewed APPtitude a few months ago on BrianMadden.com>)
Citrix also launched an application compatibility website at citrix.com/appcompat as a central starting point for those interested in figuring out whether their apps are support in XenApp.
There are also some, um, “non-standard” videos out there. This one show a couple of guys in the woods, debunking myths about app compat:
Today’s app compatibility reality: community edition
Based on what you know about XenApp and what you’ve seen from Citrix, do you think app compatibility is still an issue today? Do we still have to design XenApp farms to augment the “old” way of doing things because we don’t yet have 100.00% compatibility? (Does 100.00% compatibility even matter, or is this just something where I’m the only one making a big deal about it?) Could it be true that problems with app compatibility are truly relics of the past that don’t affect us in today’s world?