In the previous article, we discussed the
various types of non-virtual packages and gave some practical advice for
application packaging. Now, we will move on to virtual packages and begin with
Microsoft App-V as one of the most widely used virtualization formats.
of creating virtual packages is called virtualization. Application
virtualization is the technique of separating the application configuration
layer from the operating system. It enables applications to run on clients –
desktops, servers, and laptops – without actually being installed on them and
to be administered from a central location. With applications installed on a
centralized server using this method, users of application virtualization
solutions can access that software from whatever particular operating system
their computers are running.
App-V is a
widespread application virtualization and streaming solution from Microsoft.
App-V enables you to make applications available to the end users without
installing the applications directly on end user computers. App-V transforms
applications into centrally managed services that are never installed and don't
conflict with other applications. This is made possible through a process known
as “sequencing the application”, which enables each application to run in its
own self-contained virtual environment on the client computer. The sequenced
applications are isolated from each other. This eliminates application
conflicts, but the applications can still interact with the client computer
App-V is a
part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) and requires additional
licensing. The licensing is user-based and is either acquired by licensing
Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) for use on client operating systems
or as part of the Microsoft Remote Desktop Server Client Access License for use
on Remote Desktop Servers. MDOP is a suite of technologies available as a
subscription for Software Assurance customers. There also exists a licensing
model that exists for hosting (cloud services) providers.
App-V 5.1 Environment Overview
Application Virtualization (App-V) 5.1 enables administrators to deploy,
update, and support applications as services in real time, on an as-needed
basis. Individual applications are transformed from locally installed products
into centrally managed services and are available wherever you need, without
the need to pre-configure computers or to change operating system settings.
consists of the following elements:
· App-V Management Server that provides a central location for managing the App-V infrastructure,
which delivers virtual applications to both the App-V Desktop Client and the
Remote Desktop Services (formerly Terminal Services) Client. The App-V
Management Server uses Microsoft SQL Server® for its data store, where one or
more App-V Management Servers can share a single SQL Server data store. In
addition, it authenticates requests and provides security, metering,
monitoring, and data gathering. Active Directory and supporting tools are used to
manage users and applications. The server has a management site that lets you
configure the App-V infrastructure from any computer: you can add and remove
applications, manipulate shortcuts, assign access permissions to users and
groups, and create connection groups. Finally, the App-V Management Server enables
communication between the App-V Web Management Console and the SQL Server data
store. These components can all be installed on a single server computer, or on
one or more separate computers, depending on the required system architecture.
· App-V Publishing Server provides App-V Clients with entitled applications for the specific user
and hosts the virtual application package for streaming.
· App-V Desktop Client retrieves virtual applications and publishes the applications to the
clients. It also automatically sets up and manages virtual environments at
runtime on Windows endpoints, as well as stores user-specific virtual
application settings, such as registry and file changes, in each user's profile.
· App-V Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Client enables Remote Desktop Session Host servers to
use the capabilities of the App-V Desktop Client for shared desktop sessions.
· App-V Sequencer is a wizard-based tool that you use to transform traditional applications
into virtual applications. The Sequencer produces the application “package,”
which consists of:
a) a sequenced application (APP-V) file;
b) a Windows Installer file (MSI) that
can be deployed to clients configured for stand-alone operation;
c) Several XML files including
Report.XML, PackageName_DeploymentConfig.XML, and PackageName_UserConfig.XML.
The UserConfig and DeploymentConfig XML files are used to configure custom
changes to the default behavior of the package.
What’s inside an App-V package
To create a
package as it has been mentioned in the previous paragraph, you will need a
sequencing software. The sequencing process creates virtualized application
with the following files:
.appv – the primary package file, which contains the
captured assets and state information from the sequencing process. The architecture
of the package file, publishing information, and registry are in a tokenized
form that can be reapplied to a machine and to a specific user upon delivery.
.msi – executable deployment wrapper that you can
use to deploy .appv files manually or by using a third-party deployment
_DeploymentConfig.XML – a file used to customize the
default publishing parameters for all applications in a package that is deployed
globally to all users on machines that are running the App-V client.
_UserConfig.XML – a file used to customize the publishing
parameters for all applications in a package that is a deployed to a specific
user on a computer that is running the App-V client.
Report.xml – a summary of messages generated during the
sequencing process, including omitted drivers, files, and registry locations.
– a package accelerator file used to automatically rebuild a previously
sequenced virtual application package.
– a sequencer template file used to retain commonly reused Sequencer settings.
App-V for Windows 10
Windows 10 1607 build, the App-V for Windows 10 is built into the Enterprise
edition of the OS. However, is still requires downloading, installing, enabling
the server- and client-side components. Luckily, if you are already using App-V
5.x, you don't need to re-deploy the App-V server components as they haven't
changed since App-V 5.0 was released. In other cases, the App-V server components
can be obtained with the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) 2015 ISO.
The App-V client is already included in the Windows 10 1607 and must be enabled
with either Group Policy or PowerShell – here’s a step-by-step instruction. Finally, you will require a
sequencer – you can use one that Microsoft offers or choose from a wide variety
of sequencing software.
If you need help upgrading to App-V for Windows 10, we suggest using this guide from Microsoft. Also, App-V
gradually approaches end of mainstream support (more information on this here)
so now is a good time to plan the future migration.
Our own application packaging &
virtualization tool PACE Suite allows you to sequence and edit App-V 5.x
packages, as well as offers full support of App-V for Windows 10. Learn
more about PACE Suite: https://goo.gl/tP3mkK