Harry’s Sunday afternoon session at VMworld 2015 dealt with how VMware is approaching application management today and in the near future. We’ve written a lot about this recently, so far detailing FSLogix and Liquidware Labs’ approaches, and we’ll be featuring VMware AppVolumes shortly after VMware wraps up.
If you haven’t been keeping up, though, the overall message is that the ways we deliver applications today are too numerous and complex, SCCM requires a special skill set, creating MSI requires a different special skill set, and even though App-V and ThinApp work, they are complex because they were invented to solve a different problem (isolation). Today, we use these and other techniques to manage applications all at the same time, which means multiple management consoles, multiple delivery methods, and different capabilities. Since Windows applications aren’t going away any time soon, we need to get a handle on it!
Harry began by piling on to the madness, saying that we’re now also managing and delivering apps from cloud-based services in addition to the domain-based methods I mentioned above. VMware’s focus is going to be unifying application management between both cloud- and domain-based approaches, as well as simplifying the management across the board. Harry outlined three steps to get there:
Step 1: Common App Format
- Allows you to simply provision apps rather than package them.
- No MSIs anymore!
- It shouldn’t take a specialized skill set to deliver apps
- Allow you to use MSI as needed
Step 2: Unified App Delivery for Physical/Virtual
- Reliable & realtime installation
- Works with any store
- Consistent settings and config across the board
- Works at scale
- Reduce management consoles
Step 3: Unified Lifecycle Management
- Enable business agility
- Create a single way to do things
- Reduce maintenance cost
- Extensible...works with third party tools
The end vision for VMware is to treat applications, or sets of applications as if they are separately, then mix and match them to create different services that can be deployed to specific users, groups, device types, locations, etc... Harry used a great analogy, likening it to a cake. All the ingredients (applications, policies, profiles, etc…) are cataloged into an inventory that can then be used as recipes to bake different cakes (the services, with different mixes of the ingredients). With this approach, they want to be able to handle the vast majority of applications, but they also want to open the door for expert-level application management and third-party extensions.
In general this is delivered via AirWatch and AppVolumes. Windows devices enroll in the organization, and then a new Unified Application Manager (codenamed “Astro”) can be used to assemble the ingredients and deploy services. They’ve even added the ability to import applications from SCCM, converting them into ingredients that can then be delivered as services.
My big takeaway: for the 7th year in a row, I’ve come away from a VMworld session thinking “Man, VMware really gets it.” Most of what we saw isn’t available yet, and there are still some finishing touches to put on the SCCM migration part, but there are a lot of really good things happening here. Combine this application management information with what Noah Wasmer talked about in his session and you can see the future of application management taking shape.
As Tim Mangan wrote years ago, the problem is not the apps, it’s the data. Breaking our applications, profiles, settings, policies, and data up into “ingredients” is the thing that’s going to allow us to deliver the right application, in the right form factor, to the right device, with the appropriate security, to access whatever data they need, from wherever they need.
I look forward to seeing more of this in the coming days. Stay tuned.