Played With App-V For The First Time

We’ve been talking to a potential customer who currently has a complicated infrastructure because of the need to run Terminal Server “application silos”.  An app silo is when you have incompatible applications/versions and you need to roll out additional servers to run them on.  There’s no other resource utilisation need for the servers so it becomes a waste of hardware, licenses and power/cooling just to have those applications.

Back in 2006 I did some work for a Northern Irish company that tended to be ahead of the rest of the Irish pack.  They were just starting to sell a product called SoftGrid from Softricity when Microsoft bought Softricity out.  Then MS rebranded it a few times until we currently have App-V.

Where I really heard about it first was at PubForum.  The delegates there raved about it because it allowed them to get rid of their app silos.  Instead, they had virtualised their applications.  That meant Office 2000, Office XP and Office 2003 could all run on the same machines!

That’s what I saw we could do for this potential customer.  I fired up a network on our Windows Server 2008 R2/VMM 2008 R2 test machine in a matter of minutes and went to work.

Normally with App-V you look at running some sort of server infrastructure.  The full installation is AD integrated, uses MS SQL and streams applications to users based on group membership.  The lightweight installation dispenses with AD and MS SQL.  The standalone installation allows you to install just the agents on the machines and either run the sequenced (a special kind of application package) application from a file share or from an MSI “installation” (not a real installation). 

Thanks to App-V I can cut this company’s need for Terminal Servers down to 2 nodes for fault tolerance.  They can run their two current versions of their LOB app and be able to run the next version which is already in the works.  With that few machines and only a handful of applications, the standalone installation seems the logical choice.  So that’s what I ran in the lab.  Pretty quickly I had sequenced an application on a test box and deployed the application “sandbox” to another machine.  It loaded the application without any installation.  Super!

I’m going to do some more work tomorrow.  A big limiting factor now is the lack of 64 bit support for App-V.  That’s a real shame.  The current release is 4.5.  4.6 recently went into a public beta.  It’s on the cards for 2010 and will have x64 support.

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