VMworld session notes: Harry Labana: Building a Desktop, Application, and User Management Strategy

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.

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.

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@Gabe @Harry

EMM = (Everybody Meh Meh). What does in general delivered by AirWatch mean Gabe? I don’t understand why VMware force EMM upon people. It can be a choice, but why require it? Come on Harry you know better than that given your Wall Street background.

I like the focus on Apps. I am sure Microsoft will be planning how to *** smack you trying to do anything to move people from SCCM!

It’s good to see VMware upping the ante on management. I’ve said for a while and told numerous people at Citrix, VMware is getting into management and are now having a conversation that Citrix can’t because they are not a Microsoft B I T C H.

Gabe interested to learn more about this baking cake thing and how it actually works. I would also like to understand more about the physical app delivery claims. What are they actually doing to enable it?

Again why was all this stuff shared on a Sunday? I’ve sent people to the f’ing conference this year and they arrive today! #ButWeWillStillTellYouEUCMatters


D I C K smack


Delivered by AirWatch means that the process we were shown was based on a Windows 10 device joining the corporation by enrolling via (and being configured by) AirWatch, then the apps were delivered via AppVolumes.

Nobody's forcing you to use it, though. Look at all the ways we manage applications...there's room for improvement. If I can manage full-on Windows apps the same way I can manage my users mobile apps, that seems like a good idea to me, but I want to see how it plays out.

I agree that I want to see more about how these cakes are baked and what the process is to deliver physical apps. I know it's based on AppVolumes (I added that to the article...can't believe I left it out), but I'lll see if I can find out more at the show. These are notes from a 30 minute session, so it only scratched the surface.

Also, there is a much larger conversation about the future, especially EMM-based management of desktops, that I didn't want to get into in the wrapup. I need more information about what the Windows 10 MDM APIs can do before I write it, though.

And as for sending your guys - the deeper conversations will be had later this week. The sessions yesterday were just to get people worked up. Seems like they did they're job :)


Harry definitely has a great way of seeing through the insanity/complexity, we are at an industry inflection point in app delivery and it makes perfect sense that the new concepts would be aligned with mobile app delivery, we need a superset that rationalizes all apps in one framework--solid vision