Application laying appears to be a hot topic this year with everyone at least having a go. With vendors such as Citrix,VMware,Unidesk etc all in on the action.
Liquidware Labs however have bought together many currently missing elements of VDI and SBC such as UEM,Profiling user installable applications and now also department installed applications into one easily deployable and configurable application stack.
Where previously (and still in some cases) providing profiling and UEM and application laying requires several products and several different infrastructure designs Liquidware Labs do away with all that with a very simple single deployable solution.
This blog post however will outline the department installed applications feature and proceedures. So application laying is a step closer to the ideal SBC/VDI situation where you deploy a clean and customised base operating system and the applications that are used within sessions are deployed JIT (just in time) during logon cycles. This keeps the base operating system nice and fresh and also assists with application compatibility.
App-V and the like were kind enough to get us probably 70-80% of the way there but with application layering now maturing the application streaming components can be replaced or be complimented with application layering.
LiquidwareLabs ProfileUnity and its department installed applications allows you to capture and layer applications as it suggests to a large amount of people very simply. The process will be familiar to any of you who have performed any application capturing process before however it does have some really nice advantages over those that I have used before.
You can provide the application layering technology to any brokering providers so VMware Horizon View, Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp and Microsoft RDSH is all catered for. In addition physical machines are also supported due to the use of the standard Microsoft VHD format allowing the disks to be mounted inside the OS leaving no reliance upon a hypervisor or other proprierty software stack.
The basic premise of configuring and utilising DIA will be familiar to anyone who has used an application profiling tool before and you will need to have the following available to you.
A windows machine with the same target OS install preferrably with a snapshot
The FlexApp packaging console installed on the packaging machine
A spare UNC share location with which to store the created VHD file.
Downloading the FlexApp DIA packaging console
The first thing you’ll need to do is download the FlexApp packaging console. You can do this by logging into the normal ProfileUnity administration console then selecting your name in the top right hand corner and selecting the Administration option.
Now scroll to the ProfileUnity tools section and hit the “download FlexApp Packaging Console” hyperlink.
Install the packaging console on your target application packaging vm, (nothing special to see here so I wont screen shot it).
FlexApp packaging process
Once installed open the console and point it at your ProfileUnity server and provide some valid credentials.
By pointing the packaging console at your ProfileUnity server any packaged applications are imediately available through ProfileUnity to assign making a simple process even simplier!
Once logged in you will see the below screen, you’ll notice in this screen shot that I’ve already packaged a couple of applications. Hit the Create button to get started!
Once created you’ll get another minimal configuration page. Give your package a name and provide the installer location. The provilde the UNC path where the VHD file will be saved too and finally the size of the VHD file you wish to create. By default this is shown as 20GB’s but unlike other application packaging products you can define your own disk size or use their suggest 1,5,10 or 20 sizes. The other options here are self explanatory.
Now click CREATE. What you will see is that the packager now creates a VHD file and then invokes the installer for the application.
Run through the standard installation of the installer and then open the application to ensure it is working as expected. Close the application and click Finish in the packaging console.
What you will notice here is that the application’s installation has been directly written to the VHD file so when the cleanup process runs within the packaging console and the VHD is unmounted the installed application disappears from the vm. This does mean that theoretically you do not need to roll back snapshots etc which has been a traditional method of cleaning up application installations for these types of products. But of course having a snapshot in the back pocket or an automated method of recreating the vm such as MDT is always handy.
Now that is the end of the packaging routine and nothing further is needed, you should now see your application listed within the packaging consoles main window.
Publishing the DIA application
We are getting round to the exciting bit. Switch back to your ProfileUnity admin console by navigating to https://FQDN:8000. and edit the computers policies by either double clicking on the configuration name or selecting the edit button on the right hand side of the window.
Select the FlexApp DIA configuration element (you can see in my example I already have 1 application published denoted by the red 1).
Now select Add FlexApp DIA Rule from the right hand side.
As mentioned previously you connect the packaging console to ProfileUnity so you will see that ProfileUnity is already aware of the packaged application and all that is left to do is give the application a description, choose a filter if appliable and drag the application to the main window. Then hit the save button.
Finally click Update to append the configuration INI file.
You have now configured an application or group of applications to be published to your users en masse with nothing left to do other than download the .INI file to your configuration repository,which is generally the %NETLOGON% share where the ProfileUnity client files exist.
The process is very simple and streamlined all the way through with some nice additional features that you dont see in other products of a similar nature. Its also worth remember that this feature is thrown in along with an extensive UEM capability with cross OS profile migration support, user installed applications support (see HERE) privilege elevation FlexDisk hypervisor support. Profile Unity also supports ThinApp packages and has a super simple archtecture with one click clustering support… Ohh yes and its very compeitively priced too.
A fully featured trial version is available HERE and It is definately worth trialing if you find yourself lacking in UEM capability.
Author: Dale Scriven