Head-to-head of Cameyo, Citrix, Numecent, Microsoft, Spoon, Symantec and VMware: 2014 edition

The first release of the application virtualization smackdown white paper was April 2007, more than 6.5 years ago.

The first release of the application virtualization smackdown white paper was April 2007, more than 6.5 years ago. How time flies when having fun! I can remember my first 'Streaming Smackdown' session at BriForum, the youngster Ruben who was (and still is) honored to speak and be active to share knowledge in our great community. The application virtualization smackdown was the first white paper in the Smackdown series. As of today four smackdown white papers are available covering VDI, User Environment Management and Enterprise Mobility Management. In 2014 you can expect one or two completely new titles, so stay tuned!

Today application virtualization is a mature solution with its own benefits and downsides. In today's world application virtualization in the enterprise is dominated by Microsoft (App-V) and VMWare ThinApp. It's interesting to see that solutions such as Spoon and Numecent are active, focused and also differentiating in areas such BYOD and (Windows) Software as a Service while Citrix stopped development of their solution. More than seven different application virtualization solutions are alive and kicking in this industry segment. It gives me energy to test, analyze, write, blog, and present about these solutions at various events useful for community friends and customers. Writing such a white paper is not a one man show but it’s teamwork. Teamwork with community friends such as Jurjen, Rory and PQR colleagues.

Enterprise Mobility, BYO, Consumerization of IT, Big Data, Cloud Computing, Cloud Management Solutions, Dynamic Datacenter and Software Defined Datacenter are the main trends in today's IT industry. Virtualization is incorporated in several of these trends.
Virtualization is nothing more than the decoupling of IT resources. The forms of virtualization that are most frequently applied include network, storage, hardware/server, application and desktop virtualization. Application and Desktop Delivery is a process which has the goal of offering applications independent of location and device, so users can work onsite, online, offsite, offline, anywhere, with any (own) device and at any time. The dynamic delivery of applications is an essential functionality and part of a broader strategy of an optimized Desktop.

Empowering the end-user by giving access to Windows, Web and Mobile applications so he can access data and information systems from both private and public datacenters regardless of the device or location is the ultimate strategic objective for “Tomorrow’s Workspace".

In most enterprise infrastructures the majority of applications are either web-architected or Windows-based. The ratio of Web vs. Windows applications is shifting and depends on the vertical, customer, history, legacy, innovation and control of application development. Classic windows applications are the new type of legacy applications and will last for the next 20 years. Windows applications are either installed (manually, automatically or integrated in to the base-image) or virtualized (using application virtualization or virtual disk layering or connection solutions such as Unidesk or Liquidware Labs).

In conversations with customers during workshop sessions I regularly receive the questions: Why do we need application virtualization, what are the benefits and downsides of application virtualization and what is the difference between application deployment and virtualization?
The primary reasons for implementing application virtualization are:

  • Applications are quickly and easy delivered.
  • It is simple and easy to upgrade applications.
  • The rollback to prior application versions is simple.
  • There is no need to “install” applications anymore.
  • Elimination of application conflicts.
  • Reduce regression testing time.
  • Allow multiple versions of the same application to be run simultaneously on multiple versions of Windows Operating System, greatly reducing the number of server silos.
  • Allow non-multiuser versions to run simultaneously in a session virtualization environment.
  • There is no need for application load managed groups, or so called ‘silos’ allowing consolidation of remote desktop services session hosts.

The attention points of implementing application virtualization are:

  • Not all (Windows) applications can be virtualized
  • Integration between (Windows) applications and the operating system can be challenging.
  • Performance penalty of application virtualization solution.
  • Different way of application packaging which can have impact on packaging tools and knowledge of packagers.
  • Troubleshooting is different to deployed applications and can be challenging.

In the application virtualization Smackdown white paper you will read more than 30 questions which can be helpful in the strategy discussion. A highly recommended chapter to read so don’t jump directly to the features. Other chapters are even more important than just feature comparison.

“Which application virtualization Solution is THE best?” is a question I receive often. Without a better understanding of the requirements in general it is impossible to give an accurate and profound answer on that question. My advice: the best approach to choose the right (application virtualization) solution when you don't have requirement is to flip a coin. This saves you a lot of time and money on consultancy as well… #LOL.

Key areas for your Application virtualization strategy are:

  • What do you want to achieve, a business enabler, overall cost of ownership (TCO) and cost reducer?
  • What are the use-cases? And does the use-case require application virtualization?
  • Are you investigating a tactical (point) or strategic solution? What do you want to solve?
  • What is the strategy around Client Management, PC Life Cycle Management solution and how does application virtualization fit?
  • Is a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) concept one of the key access scenarios?
  • What is your application delivery model? Is delivery of applications focused on SaaS, Enterprise, SMB or the Consumer space?
  • Is a client or agentless application virtualization solution required?
  • Do you need to integrate and/or isolate your applications from each other or from the OS? Do you need both functionalities and how do you manage the application integration?
  • What is the expected packaging success ratio of virtualizing applications? How do you handle the ‘exception’ applications which can’t be virtualized?
  • What’s your overall Application and Desktop Delivery strategy model with solutions such as Laptop (Offline), Desktop (Online), VDI and SBC? How can Application virtualization enhance these solutions?
  • BTW: What’s your overall Enterprise Mobility strategy with Applification, MDM/MAM, Secure Access, Data Access. Enterprise Mobility is an architectural challenge.

Bottom Line: What’s your current Application and Desktop Delivery strategy?!

If you are looking for an independent overview of application virtualization solutions and curious about the different features and functions each application virtualization vendor is offering!?
This is the white paper you definitely must read!

If you like the content please share your thoughts via (social) media. When you have any comments, corrections, or suggestions for improvements of this document?! Please send e-mail to Ruben Spruijt (rsp@pqr.nl) or Twitter @rspruijt 

PS: I like nice quotes. My personal favorite is, "If you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life!" What's your favorite?

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