I found it rather unclear for me what solution does what so I built a list from what I could gather from my research. If anybody wishes to add anything please feel free to post. This comparason is between Softgrid 4.0 (which I am implementing) and SVS (which I have not implemented yet).

Patch Rollback: Rolling back patches is a feature in Softgrid 4.0s Active Upgrade. Altris does not support rollback but I assume you can still find a way to back out of a change.

Virtualization: You have to remember SVS is more of a registry and file virtualization tool rather than a full virtualization solution. With Softgrid there are no application conflicts between virutal environments due to full virtualization. The downside is that until 4.1 comes out for Softgrid applications that need heavy interaction need to be installed into the same virtual environment producing some packaging overhead.

Application assignments: Softricity is per-user and SVS is per machine.

Application delivery: Softgrid can stream applications but must use Softgrid servers or SMS to deliver applications. Altris is infrastructure independant but does not support streaming.

Licence control: Softgrid maintains very accurate and stringent enforcement of application usage. I don't think SVS does this at all. (correct me if I am wrong)

Almost forgot....

Price: SVS is cheaper.
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I guess SVS is still not certified for use on Citrix but Altiris seems to encourage it.
Answered 04/07/2006 by: kkaminsk
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It's like watching a boxing match. I found out that SVS does not support roaming profiles but then they go Partner with Ardence to get streaming functionality and roaming profile support. The key detail here is the scheduled release date is Dec 8.
Answered 04/27/2006 by: kkaminsk
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I have nothing to add about SVS but I appreciate the comments. I was wondering what the differences were.

Softgrid is an amazing tool that I was using at version 2. It's been around for a few years now and is quite mature. SVS is new and I imagine that's an issue.

Has Softgrid addressed the issue of handling MSDE or other packages that use services? Softricity works very well with Citrix. I can vouch for that. Great at consolidating servers.
Answered 04/27/2006 by: turbokitty
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2.0!? Heh, I didn't know there was anyone out there that had used it at that level. I started off in the 3.x stream but still took me about a year until I had a chance to work with it in production. I never knew the difference between the two either till I really started looking at things. I wish there was an Altiris guru on the board to hash out the product comparason for accuracy sake. I would not be surprised if I run into SVS at some client site in the future but for now I'm implementing Softgrid where I can.

As for services support 4.0 has it but still no kernel driver support. I suspect the kernel driver virtualization will be very tricky if it can be done. Still the SMS 2003 integration allows for hybrid application deployments so that you can SMS deliver the kernel drivers and Softgrid delivers the virtual app. The big thing I am looking for is 64-Bit Citrix support but it looks like that is going to be at least several months away.
Answered 04/27/2006 by: kkaminsk
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Yeah, I did a proof of concept for Softgrid 2.0 a few years ago and that client was one of Softricity's first customers (and its biggest at the time). That said, it was a very sold product back then. We threw a lot of things at it and it performed very well. I imagine it's even better now.
I wasn't aware of the SMS integration. That's a very interesting approach to tackling Softgrid's limitations. Great idea on their part.
Answered 04/27/2006 by: turbokitty
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I am an SVS guru.

A couple of comments on the thread so far:

- SVS supports instant rollback (we call it "reset") back to the "just installed" state of the package.
- SVS only virtualizes the file system and registry. The downside to this is that applications that want to exclusively use things like named pipes, etc. will not run at the same time. The upside is that applications interact normally (except for file and registry conflicts which are handled) with each other and the system. We think that applications behaving normally is more valuable, but this will depend on your use case.
- SVS is per machine and/or per user.
- SVS integrates with the rest of the Altiris portfolio, including application metering.
- SVS is indeed cheaper, but in the long run this may not be much of a factor. People should decide based on what they need the tool to do.
- SVS is not supported on a Citrix server.
- We partnered with Ardence to integrate SVS support into their product. We did not partner with them to get streaming and roaming profile support.
- SVS is new. Only one thing to do about that...wait ;) However, it is a great release.
- You can download the SMS/SVS integration piece. It is not as complete as the Softricity one, but it's pretty good.

If you want to try out SVS, it is free for personal use. You can get it at svsdownloads.com, download.com, tucows.com, pcmag.com, etc.

If you have further questions, I'll try to be as objective as possible ;)
Answered 05/03/2006 by: randycoder
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I have some questions about SVS. If you do an application reset do you loose the user customizations of the application?

The documentation I was given stated that SVS is per machine but it may have been wrong. So when you deploy an application you can set it to be only per user?

The Ardence press release is rather confusing to say the least. What advantages does the integration with the Ardence product really provide? Also is the info about roaming profiles not working just plain wrong?

I should edit and add this... There is bias because I do not have the time to sit with SVS in depth. I have been implementing Softgrid but keep in mind the outfit I am with is also an Altiris reseller. I am trying to figure out where this product fits in. I would really like this to be an honest session where we hash out the differences because neither vendor has stepped up to the plate to make this information available to the public. I hate marketing fluff and like knowing what the real deal is with some of these products. Softricity likes to play the blue screen card with SVS and maybe it has had stability issues in the past but I am more interested in a feature comparason to figure out how these solutions really compare to each other. I will say again that SVS is probably a great desktop product for most shops but I'd really like to know when shelling out the money for Softgrid is worth it. So far my implementations have mainly been Citrix related and that is due to the more complete virtualization of the application. The downside is with larger apps the VFS virtualization overhead could be too much for the user to deem it as a useable experience. I still have not fully kicked a around with the Softgrid 4.0 client to see how much better the optimization is but with the 3.2 codebase some apps can be sluggish.
Answered 05/03/2006 by: kkaminsk
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This is an awesome thread. Very informative. Should it be moved to the Softricity forum under "Distribution"?

Alas, I feel the sub-forums get lost.. it's not as noticable to see the subforum links at the top of the parent forum as seeing the whole tree at the main forum parent page.
Answered 05/03/2006 by: turbokitty
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By default, a reset will take the entire package back to its just installed state. So, yes, users will lose their customizations. However, the admin can configure the package so that these settings are not lost on a reset.

Each SVS package contains a per-user section that is used to store the files/settings that are unique for each user (desktop, profile, etc). Each user that logs on only sees their own stuff.

We have a prototype of some software that actually activates different packages based on user id and group membership at logon time. Is this what you mean?

Ardence has the ability for multiple PCs to boot from a shared image. This image is ultimately read-only. Now you can load the image up with lots of applications in SVS packages and activate them based on the user. Basically it is a cool way to "customize" their read-only image on the fly. That's all I know. There may be more.

I don't know of any roaming profile problems.

I hate fluff too.

Softricity did an eval and published competitive information using Beta 2 of SVS. There was a third beta and a release since then. For example, BSODs: I just spent a week at MS where I met for a bit with the Online Crash Analysis guys. We have somewhere between 20-30k (conservative) installations in the first month. The OCA guys have a record of 50 BSODs in our release driver. And as we looked at the data, more than half of these were incorrectly blamed on us.

Anyway, if you want to run anything Softricity says about SVS by me, I'll be brutally honest.

SVS is a desktop only product (this release).

I am not a SoftGrid guru, but I would think that you should use SoftGrid if:
1. You are running on a Citrix server
2. You want to stream distribution of apps
3. You need absolute, total app isolation

Of course I have lots of reasons to choose SVS. I'll try to publish a list tomorrow.

If you want straight information about SVS, check out our support site. We air out all our dirty laundry especially in the forums.

Here are a couple of links:
http://forums.altiris.com/categories.aspx?catid=28&entercat=y
http://juice.altiris.com/svs
Answered 05/03/2006 by: randycoder
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ORIGINAL: randycoder
By default, a reset will take the entire package back to its just installed state. So, yes, users will lose their customizations. However, the admin can configure the package so that these settings are not lost on a reset.


So with a little pre-planning a SVS package can go through upgrades and rollback like Softgrid. That is good to know.

ORIGINAL: randycoder
Each SVS package contains a per-user section that is used to store the files/settings that are unique for each user (desktop, profile, etc). Each user that logs on only sees their own stuff.

We have a prototype of some software that actually activates different packages based on user id and group membership at logon time. Is this what you mean?


I guess that is what I was looking for is the application assignment by user credentials and the ability to separate packages per-user. Softgrid is very per-user with the application assignment and data but you can tweak individual files to be shared amongst all users as well. I guess both products behave similarly in this area.

ORIGINAL: randycoder
I don't know of any roaming profile problems.


I got the roaming profile issue from a guy in Germany. I'll see if he'll explain his statement with roaming profiles.


The issue I see with Softgrid is that it is a solid product but the pricing can be a bit much for a company to digest when looking at running it on the desktop. The only app I did not like with Softgrid on the desktop was Corel Draw because it was rather slow on a desktop. SVS I think is a great way to get around the limitations of MSI and make application deployment more flexible. I should just bite the bullet and make some time to set up a VM to really kick SVS around. I know it will have a place in the market and that is what I am trying to figure out when making recommendations.
Answered 05/04/2006 by: kkaminsk
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A VM is definitely a good way to test.

The fast way to do a quick eval is to:
1. Download the SVS client (1.5 MB)
2. During the install, check the box to install the admin tool, and click the "Get it free" button to get a license
3. Download a sample package
4. Using the admin tool, import and activate

svsdownloads.com has SVS and sample packages.

10 or 15 minutes is all it should take.

This is just the stand-alone version of SVS. If you want to test SVS using the full Altiris NS deployment solution, you'll need to download an eval.
Answered 05/04/2006 by: randycoder
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Fantastic thread, I'm performing this exact comparison for future use in our company, though I'll state right now that I'm not as far along in my research as you Kkaminsk.

This is an excellent heads up, I was unaware that SVS had an enterprise deployment piece, I thought that changes to virtual packages could be driven remotely by command line only via an enterprise desktop management tool (in our case SMS.)

I wonder if you could answer this basic question for me:

What kind of bandwidth overhead are you looking at if deploy apps via Softgrid? Again, a largely uneducated oppinion at this point, but it would seem that streaming packages across the network would be cumbersome, especially for large scale deployments of large applictions.


I'm responsible for getting an application virtualization solution in place next year, so be ready for a flood of questions.
Answered 05/04/2006 by: Bladerun
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When you buy SVS you get a license to manage it through NS.

NS (Notification Server) integration gives you an advanced infrastructure for managing SVS. It is very scalable and network friendly. Full reporting, etc. All the features of an enterprise distribution/management solution.

SVS is also included in CMS level 2 and TMS where it is bundled with other products (security, recovery, etc).

If you are using SMS, you should look at the SVS plugin for SMS. You can get it here: http://juice.altiris.com/node/326.
Answered 05/04/2006 by: randycoder
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ORIGINAL: Bladerun

I wonder if you could answer this basic question for me:

What kind of bandwidth overhead are you looking at if deploy apps via Softgrid? Again, a largely uneducated oppinion at this point, but it would seem that streaming packages across the network would be cumbersome, especially for large scale deployments of large applictions.




I would say it is less overhead than SMB if you stream via RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol). It uses a streaming protocol to deliver the changes and the changes only get sent out if the client uses the application or if you trigger the client with a command line to retrieve the app. The 4.0 client can be configured check on a regular interval but I have not checked if it will automatically pull the change down on one of these cycles. (Something to add to the list) The great thing about the streaming is that Softgrid only sends out the binary delta of what changed with the sequence when you do an upgrade so you are not left retransmitting the whole application. The only desktop environment I worked in never staggered their Softgrid rollouts but never blew up the network. When a new application came online it was promoted and that was it. One key thing to note is that site used feature block one.

I have a love hate relationship with feature block one and here is a summary of it. Feature block one is excellent when done correctly. I.E. the application experts know their application and document a good feature block one. A good feature block one is where all day to day functionality is defined via a test flight with the application. The Softgrid sequencer will then look at the actions done by the user and determine what parts of the application are in fact needed for the day to day use and only stream those items to the client for the first launch. For most applications this is great for example I had a 140 meg java application but all the application needed was 12 meg of data to run so Softgrid only delivered 12 meg of data.

If you have a bad feature block one the user might click on a menu and have to wait a few seconds for the data to be streamed down just in time. Softgrid has some mystical way of segmenting the rest of the application into different blocks that get streamed out so if you need a block streamed it only streams that block and not the rest of the application. So this can be handy but depending on how bad feature block one was built it can be frustrating. You can choose not to make a feature block one and the whole application will be streamed or via a command line / control panel you can tell the client to retrieve the whole application. Softgrid also can enable compression to help limit the network impact but one guy reported that this will slow your launch times. I have not had the time to verify this since none of my clients use compression or want to use compression.
Answered 05/04/2006 by: kkaminsk
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I should add that you can stagger a rollout but that will have to be done via moving user accounts between active directory groups which shouldn't be a big deal unless you are a big fan of generic network IDs for most of your staff.
Answered 05/04/2006 by: kkaminsk
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I should also mention the Zero Touch portion of the suite. I have not implemented it anywhere but it has some cool features like being able to give an end user an interface to self provision applications and have workflow to manage the application approval (if required). But the really neat part I found was how it can set launch conditions for an app so that the end user can get the best application experience.

http://www.softricity.com/images/products/deployment-large.gif


Also I never mention the integrated license management and reporting features. It is kinda handy because most application tracking is rather vague but you can see here that Softricity can provide very details usage reports.

http://www.softricity.com/images/products/mmc-report-big.gif
Answered 05/05/2006 by: kkaminsk
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Anytime you guys want me to quit talking about SVS just let me know and I'll go away ;)

But since this is about comparing and contrasting, I'll just mention that you can also do user based SVS provisioning through the Altiris Software Portal with the workflow stuff too.
Answered 05/05/2006 by: randycoder
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Never heard of it. I guess I'll have to check that out too.
Answered 05/05/2006 by: kkaminsk
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ORIGINAL: randycoder

When you buy SVS you get a license to manage it through NS.



Does that mean that I still need some sort of base licensing for NS?
Answered 05/05/2006 by: kkaminsk
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I am not sure if I am allowed to post numbers but if you need a variety of features such as self provisioning, metering and deployment it looks like the products are priced pretty evenly though comparing licensing models is a bit of a challenge. I guess if all you need is virtualization it is a night and day comparason for price but if you want all the other features it looks like these products run pretty much neck and neck for price especially if you price the Total Manaagement Suite against the Softgrid + SMS bundle.
Answered 05/05/2006 by: kkaminsk
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When using NS, use of the NS server is free. The "Solutions" are purchased. Or you can buy one of the bundles (Suites).

Well, I'm not the expert on this, but I thought that TMS was far more feature rich than a Softricity/SMS bundle. For example, in addition to comparable Softricity/SMS features, TMS includes:
- Security auditing
- Remote control
- Helpdesk
- Patch management
- Recovery
- Wise Package Studio

I could be wrong though...
Answered 05/06/2006 by: randycoder
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When you buy SVS if you do get all the licensing for NS included that is not a bad bundle but I guess if you need to push MSIs you'll still need some additional licensing with NS or just try and plug SVS into your existing deployment infrastructure.

The only difference I really see is the Altiris recovery solution and the Altiris Helpdesk solution. You get two free packagers with SMS one being Admin Studio and the other being old SMS Installer. SMS does have some embedded device management that I am not sure if Altiris covers. I guess the point is once you start putting on the features there isn't as much of a price difference than with just bare bones SVS vs Softgrid. It's cool that Altiris offers very modular solutions but that does make it fun to price out. I am not sure if it is a bad thing or not that Softgrid does not have a low end offering but it does make it interesting when trying to compare platforms based on features and price.
Answered 05/08/2006 by: kkaminsk
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Looks like the Microsoft aquisition dropped the pricing in a big way.


Desktop license $36.

Terminal Server CAL $20.

I think the loaded price for a SVS standalone license is around $32 for a client but that does not include a deployment mechanism though you get a license to manage it with NS. The Softgrid license includes the server, ZeroTouch (used to cost a fair bit) and the SMS connector. I would think that Altiris just got undercut. Is Altiris changing their pricing model?
Answered 08/08/2006 by: kkaminsk
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I assume you are asking me. Sorry if that is a bad assumption.

Pricing is something I can't comment on in a public forum.
Answered 08/09/2006 by: randycoder
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Fair enough... I guess I am curious to see if Altiris is going to respond to this and not necessarily you. The competition in this market space has been quite vicious as Citrix, Altiris and Microsoft define this market space. I was personally blown away by how much Microsoft changed the pricing but I guess they had little choice. Being a consultant it was hard to try and sell Softricity outside of the Citrix realm because you have a competing product for a fraction of the price. I thought Altiris would clearly be the product of choice for the desktop because it is still a good solution and at the time had a significantly smaller price tag.

The revised pricing turns up the competition all around but I would not write off the Altiris solution either. I do have to applaud Altiris for making such an extensive community site because that is something I think Softricity dropped the ball on. Virtualization is new to everyone and I think it was smart of Altiris to make a nice community site and offer the product for free to non-commercial users. When I first tried virtualization I wasn't sold on it until I really started using it. I think exposure is the key to expanding the application virtualization market.
Answered 08/09/2006 by: kkaminsk
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$36 and minimum purchase is just 5(!!) licenses I read somewhere, although I can't find the link right now.

Altiris is going to have a tough time expanding on their installed base unless they come up with something to counter this. For new deployments in the planning phase where streaming applications is a factor I've a hard time finding arguments for using Altiris as it stands right now.

Thanks for the good comparative information in this thread.
Answered 11/11/2006 by: jib
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Even though this thread has some nuggets of info in it I would like to point out that someone is taking this to a new level. This matrix is not yet done but you might want to take a look at this for your application virtualization needs.

http://www.virtuall.nl/videos/Application%20Virtualization%20Solutions/Application%20Virtualization_Isolation%20Feature%20Matrix%20v0.7.pdf

This document name might change so if the link breaks try going here:

http://www.virtuall.nl/videos/Application%20Virtualization%20Solutions/
Answered 01/09/2007 by: kkaminsk
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Great discussion. I've been comparing / trying to find the right application product for the following reasons over the last 5 months:

-- IT department downsizing - personnel
-- Elimination of manual software installations
-- Elimination of known application conflicts on one system platform
-- Eliminating the need for additional hardware platforms due to application conflicts & save money
-- License metering
-- Concurrent license controls

On our virtualization team (5 members), we've been comparing Altiris SVS v2 & Microsoft SoftGrid v4.1.0.56. Here's an extract of the areas covered in the report we published to our leadership

MS SoftGrid

1. Virtualization - Poor
-- Sequencing is the 'Bread & Butter' of getting this product to be successful - to much time is spent getting applications to work by 'tweaking' or correcting the uniqueness of the virtual environment
-- Some applications will work when installed to a virtual partition while others will not - trial & error
-- In MS words, 'Sequencing is an Art' or 'The trick to Sequencing' & definitely not a science the way we'd like to see it
-- Virtualization creates such an isolated environment, that it will not work with other applications that are locally installed in our default platform rollout

2. Administration - Outstanding
-- Active Directory user / group permission integration - almost instantaneous user availability
-- Applications travel with user permissions (if SG client is installed)
-- Light administrative load

3. Support - Poor
-- Little company 'public-access' documentation (except for user forums)
-- Tech support - must pay for (Premier support)

4. Management - Good
-- Client cost is low
-- Personnel expense is medium - sequencing training is essential to be fully capable of using this product
-- License metering
-- Concurrent licensing controls - what good is this if the software remains in cache & I'm breaking the EULA. If the software travels with a user, then the user can continue to install this software where ever he / she logs in. We asked commercial software vendors on this issue & they compared it to roaming profiles - if an application travels with the user, then a license is needed for each system the software is installed on (licensing based on per seat - not per user)

Altiris SVS

1. Virtualization - Outstanding
-- Application virtualization was almost always successful the first time we tried it
-- No additional steps to make it work in a virtualized environment
-- No specialized section needed for virtualization (sequencing) expertise - software SME (subject matter experts) can be provided with admin virtualizing software

2. Administration - Poor
-- SMS plug-in available, but time is need to manually create collection of system names - waiting game for user access (application import & activation)
-- No AD integration
-- Altiris server solution provides no real gain to speed of availability - waiting game for user access

3. Support - Excellent
-- Plethora of documentation - both company sponsored & user forum experiences
-- Tech support available

4. Management - Satisfactory
-- Client cost is mid-range
-- Personnel expense low - no training necessary to virtualize software, but administrative work is increased
-- License metering
-- Concurrent licensing controls maintained through software distribution to system name collections - no inadvertent EULA violations

We also went a step farther with our review to include enterprise software distribution of Altiris SVS virtualization packages using AppStream (Altiris SVS third-party partner). AppStream allowed all the positive benefits of MS SoftGrid streaming delivery & AD user permission controlled integration (to include additional system specific rules for licensing), but this also requires a second client license for their product.
Answered 03/01/2007 by: BadShadd
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My experience with ease of Softgrid virtualization depends on the applications you are trying to virtualize. Some client sites I am averaging a rate of 3-4 applications others I was down to 1-2 a day. It is true when an application does not properly virtualize there is some troubleshooting but usually the issue is fairly straight forward if you are familiar with Sequencing though I will not deny that there is a skill set here.

I've heard Altiris SVS is easier to package with but I have no personal experience in that area. I would be skeptical about the statement that you need no skill because I have seen SMEs Sequence with Softricity. When you deal with virtual applications it is more difficult to deploy that bad package that blows up the desktop. I have to personally sit down with Altiris SVS because I do have nagging questions about the limitations of their virtualization and what they really are. Unfortunately my time is primarily tied up doing Softgrid work.

I saw an Appstream / SVS demo last week and I think if you could combine those two products and drop the licensing costs you have a potential competitor to Softgrid. I just didn't think the pricing was aggressive enough to make the argument to go with that solution on the desktop. Anyway that is my take on things for now and my opinions do lack true SVS exposure.
Answered 03/01/2007 by: kkaminsk
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ORIGINAL: BadShadd
3. Support - Poor
-- Little company 'public-access' documentation (except for user forums)
-- Tech support - must pay for (Premier support)


This is something that is a result of the Microsoft aquisition. You used to get free support and it was #@$@#ing awesome support but now it is going to fee based. I hope Microsoft starts putting out much more complete documentation soon or this will be a serious issue for sites that don't want to bring in or can't find an experienced Softgrid implementer.
Answered 03/01/2007 by: kkaminsk
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Altiris virtualization - The admin console is a straight forward GUI interface for creating VSA (Virtual Software Archive) packages for enterprise distribution. There are no Wizard variables to fill in / annotate like in SG. VSA package creation has two settings: Single program capture or Global capture. Single program capture would be used for simple programs like WinZip where only one .exe needs to launched / captured. Global capture is used for multi-program installation or single install with custom settings needed to be captured. A Global capture example would be during an install of a Oracle client, additional patches, and custom changes to the desktop icon.

Areas where Altiris SVS excelled over SG: I was able to virtualize MS Office 2007 and IE7 (standalone mode). I can now run IE7 side-by-side with IE6. IE7 capture was done with 12 step checklist obtained from the user forum (juice.altiris.com). As many of the threads here have stated, SG also has a problem with working with device drivers. Altiris SVS allowed me to capture Adobe Acrobat Pro 7 (full functionality) & programs that needed to interact with my CAC (Common Access Card - used for logging in & website PKI access) and card reader software.

MS SG support - I've had MS on-site 3 times over the last 5 months & I've been promised the world that they can get programs to work for us & free access to the knowledgebase to ask direct questions and I've yet to see any return on those statements. I want a product that works with no special 'tweaking' and gives me the satisfaction of working the first time I try it. I get those warm fuzzies using Altiris, but the price just isn't right to where my organization will consider it.
Answered 03/01/2007 by: BadShadd
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Altiris virtualization - I forgot to mention that I can capture & test the new virtual app on the same system (serious time saver & something that can't be done on the SG Sequencer system). I don't need to transfer the virtual package to a SG server, configure the app access group & stream it to a client. The entire package creation & testing is completed on one system before it even gets transferred to the server for enterprise deployment testing. SG needs to come up with that kind of flexibility for quick testing.
Answered 03/01/2007 by: BadShadd
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In reading through this post I don't see any mention of an application that I am preparing to implement. Check out AppStream.com. They are a partner with Altiris to provide an awesome Management and Delivery mechanism for both .vsa files and .msi files alike.

The combination of AppStream and SVS blows MS Softgrid out of the water. Apps can be assigned either on a per-user or per-machine basis. Per-user is the best way to go - incorporating that with Roaming Profiles and you have an incredible combination.

Our company's software licensing dept can't wait to get this implemented. The application management component of AppStream is powerful and easy to use.
Answered 03/16/2007 by: tneubauer
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ORIGINAL: BadShadd

Altiris virtualization - I forgot to mention that I can capture & test the new virtual app on the same system (serious time saver & something that can't be done on the SG Sequencer system).

Yes you can but wouldn't recommend this course of action for testing. As there may be resources that gets stuck in Base instead of the layer or services/drivers that may not work proper with SVS I would instead import the VSA to a "clean" machine when testing the virtual app.

Don't get me wrong, I love SVS but it has some flaws that I thing SG is better with ex. total isolation but this is also a drawback preventing integration of other virtual apps not in the same bubble.
Answered 03/16/2007 by: AngelD
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tneubauer - I did mention AppStream in this thread on 1 Mar as a delivery method, but it's not a virtualization product & that's why I didn't further discuss it here. The purpose in our organization for evaluating SG & SVS was keeping apps virtualized - we are trying to maintain a stable & standardized platform and provide all of the other apps in a virtual method.

Drawback to using SVS & AppStream are 2 products to license - additional costs for the client & server / hardware support. Just something to think about.
Answered 03/18/2007 by: BadShadd
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AngelD - I agree fully with additional & separate testing on a clean system, but being able to receive 'initial feedback' if the product works on the capture system are a plus.

What kind of flaws are you referring to with SVS? I'm interested in any kind of information.
Answered 03/18/2007 by: BadShadd
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The biggest flaw for now is that any process in a layer deleting a file in Base will be permanent deleted, not even going through recycle bin.
Altiris knows about this and will fix so the file will go into the recycle bin instead of directly deleted. Deleted registry entries will be marked as deleted and added as an delete entry and will get restored as soon as the layer is deactive, reset or deleted but not for files.
Answered 03/19/2007 by: AngelD
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Another one would be that virtualized environment variables will not be used withing the layer if not missing from Base that is.
The %Path% env. variable is often used by applications and any added value to that variable will not be seen.
This "problem" is due to the priority order and other issues may arise due to this when a spawned child process is outside of the layer.

You could of course use the user %Path% to append the value to the system %path%.
I've posted a tip on Juice how to do this: http://juice.altiris.com/tech-tip/688/handle-path-environment-variable-in-an-application-layer

Next Beta release (SVS 2.1 Beta 2) will support virtualizing any environment variable.
Answered 03/20/2007 by: AngelD
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ORIGINAL: AngelD

Another one would be that virtualized environment variables will not be used withing the layer if not missing from Base that is.
The %Path% env. variable is often used by applications and any added value to that variable will not be seen.
This "problem" is due to the priority order and other issues may arise due to this when a spawned child process is outside of the layer.

You could of course use the user %Path% to append the value to the system %path%.
I've posted a tip on Juice how to do this: http://juice.altiris.com/tech-tip/688/handle-path-environment-variable-in-an-application-layer

Next Beta release (SVS 2.1 Beta 2) will support virtualizing any environment variable.



[:'(] Wow. That is huge! I'm glad they are addressing this as it seems nearly a show stopper, no?
Answered 04/04/2007 by: shuffle
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BadShadd, I see your mention of AppStream now - sorry. So I am curious as to what your organization has decided to use, have you made your decision yet? We are preparing to bring in both vendors for some extensive testing in our environment with our apps.
Answered 04/19/2007 by: tneubauer
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No final decision has been made by management. I'm currently continuing on with SG testing - that's the only thing I have an authorized 'approved' test plan for. If there's a change in our testing strategy or decision, I'll let you know about the successes / failures. Thanks for your interest.

I'd be interested to hear in your testing as well.
Answered 04/19/2007 by: BadShadd
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Hi there, I'm new here... love the posts!

Just wondering - Does anyone have any experience or know stories of successful enterprise-wide applications of Softgrid? We're in the planning stages at a 40,000 user+ corporate multinational company. Are we limited? Anyone have any success stories other than the ones published by MS as marketing material?

Thanks very much, and I'll liekly be on here quite a bit in the next little while.

Fred
Answered 04/27/2007 by: decarolis
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I think for a company of that size there will be some design challenges in regards to scaling the solution to desktops. I don't think it would be the end of the world but there are some issues in regards to the SQL datastores, mobile users, replicating sequences and publishing applications enterprise wide that definitely need to be thought through in the beginning. You may consider SMS integration to address some of those limitations. There a quite a few multinationals running Softgrid and you can find some more info here as to their current set of case studies here.

http://www.softricity.com/customers/index.asp
Answered 04/27/2007 by: kkaminsk
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Well, I have experience from environments about half that size and .. the feeling I get is that SoftGrid is STILL not worth it due to the complexity of getting things working together. For the reasons kkaminsk state .. if you make a decision to "use softgird enterprise-wide and thats it" then you are on the wrong track. SMS integration, well, why not use msi then? For some apps its great, but its just a tool and you need your whole chest - there is no free lunch, remember.

I always compare to pure Windows Installer + managed clients .. I'm biased, I know. I think SoftGrid is a great tool but you'll end up using just as much resources supporting that infrastructure as you would any other.
Answered 04/28/2007 by: jib
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My take on it is that Softgrid is less effort on the application management side if your goal is to manage applications in a full lockdown. If you are not deploying MSIs to a locked down desktop then the benefits are not as clear though I still do believe there are benefits to using it. Preventing old apps that use old Oracle clients from being put on Citrix because it doesn't work on the current desktop build has some value as well as isolating old (and insecure) Java VMs from the OS. The issue with Softgrid is that you will still have around 5% of your application set that still needs traditional deployment so you can't throw out your Windows Installer packaging / deployment infrastructure. I think there is plenty of hidden value but I think it is partly situational and a bit of a leap of faith to see where the value in this technology is because it does not replace Windows Installer but provides similar functionality.
Answered 04/30/2007 by: kkaminsk
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I am surprised to hear about the level of difficulty you experienced with virtualizing applications with Softgrid. On a project we did not long ago, we took a client site from 6 Citrix silos down to 2. The two were : Softgrid apps and non Softgrid apps. Out of about 80 applications we had 6 that sat on the 'non-Softgrid' silo. Of those 6, 2 were hasp kernel level applications that we knew ahead of time would likely not work, so little time was spent trying to get them to.

I will give you the fact that we had several key Softgrid guys working on the project, one being kkaminsk. We work together. But, if you have the right skillset I think Softgrid is the clear winner here. This client was so impressed that they are looking at going this way on the desktop next. We have all moved on from this project and left the client with enough knowledge to maintain the environment on their own. Its a killer tool.

I think there is a gap here in terms of Softgrid because it represents more of a skillset than standard application packaging. Yes, you need those skills, but you also need to work with the product (or attend a non MS Softgrid course) to get some real world sequencing tips and guidelines. The MS course is fine, don't get me wrong, but the ins and outs of sequencing is the whole challenge to Softgrid. Once you have your best practices established, you are set!
Answered 05/30/2007 by: shuffle
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You touched on a very important point - 'having the right skillset' when working with SoftGrid. Unfortunately, my organization has a constant turn over of personnel (I'm guessing every 2-4 years people move on) - so maintaining key personnel with the right skillset is a problem. There's just not a big pool of people out there with the right 'complete' skillset (to include me) that wander in and are 100% functional from day 1. Knowledge & competentcy don't happen over night.
Answered 05/30/2007 by: BadShadd
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I think this is a modern day problem when management got the idea in the late 90s that IT people are commodities and are truly expendable. For some reason there is a trend that an IT worker skill set is easy to reproduce and knowledge of the environment is no longer an asset. I consider knowledge of the environment to be a very big portion of the skill set and the average IT worker will take anywhere from 3 months to a year to be useful. The treatment of these workers has lead to high churn and lack of ambition for people to do their job well or try to improve their infrastructure. It is very rare these days that I come across a company with a well run infrastructure and believe me I have seen IT shops that ran like clockwork and precision but those seem to be a think of the past as companies try to trim IT budgets. Because it is hard to put knowledge of the environment into a budget spreadsheet it is easier to look at hourly rates and focus on keeping those down as a method to save money but do you really save money when the level of competence suffers?
Answered 05/31/2007 by: kkaminsk
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Can someone provide technical elaboratopm on the difference between SG's "Full Virtualization" compared to SVS's "File and Registry Virtualization"?

I understand the pros and cons, namely that SG gives you better isolation while SVS allows apps to communicate with each better, but I don't really understand the infrastructure that is providing these advantages. What does "Full virtualization" mean?

Thanks for providing this thread, reading it has been a great help!
Answered 07/09/2007 by: KenH
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Full virtualization
What some people try to do is to associate virtualization with products instead of its meaning.
Many have stated that SG is real virtualization and SVS is not as SG uses a "virtual" filesystem when SVS uses redirection technique instead.
ex. Virtualization from Wikipedia
One useful definition is "a technique for hiding the physical characteristics of computing resources from the way in which other systems, applications, or end users interact with those resources. This includes making a single physical resource (such as a server, an operating system, an application, or storage device) appear to function as multiple logical resources; or it can include making multiple physical resources (such as storage devices or servers) appear as a single logical resource."

So what this definition say is that you arn't bound to run the virtual application on the client you created it on but it can/should be able to work on any operating system or language.

So if anyone would say that you cannot do this with SVS then they are wrong.
Answered 07/09/2007 by: AngelD
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Where can I find a more detailed description of the SG's Virtual File System and SVS's Redirection technologies? I am trying to understand how these work. What is happening on that Q drive? Where are things being redirected to?
Answered 07/10/2007 by: KenH
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ORIGINAL: KenH

Where can I find a more detailed description of the SG's Virtual File System and SVS's Redirection technologies? I am trying to understand how these work. What is happening on that Q drive? Where are things being redirected to?


The SoftGrid's Q: drive is just mount-point to large cache-file in your disk (sftfs.fsd) containing SoftGrid -specific file-system (FAT-derivative, I think). You can think of it being a bit similar what happens when you mount ISO -images to virtual CD/DVD drive (Daemon Tools etc.). This file-system then is place where from the executables/processes are actually launched regardless what application might think of (as SoftGrid could "lie" to application that it's on c:\Program Files\.. or such path where as in reality it's files are always in that virtual FS = Q: -path). This virtual drive / mount-point is not accessible to others but only to processes running inside SoftGrid "bubbles" and even then only to package's own file-structure as each individual package is in a way also virtually mounted/attached to root of that virtual drive (app A is on q:\appa.v1\... and app B is on q:\appb.v1\...). If package is removed, it's root-directory is de-attached from root of virtual drive (and physical data flushed from cache-file). For virtualized registry access, if application reads or writes to registry under SoftGrid, the access is redirected to special user-specific file in user's %AppData% so that from application's perspective registry contains all those virtualized/modified entries but in reality real registry is still as-is and it's only dynamically overlayed with content from both the package and that user's cached entries file.

From what I understand (and I really haven't played with SVS so others can correct me), in SVS you have this hidden directory in root of the C: -drive (and by my understanding it's now also possible to place it other partitions as well), containing subdirectories of virtual packages. So you really have those files and directories physically accessible from within real partition. When application is launched, it's file I/O is redirected to that hidden directory-structure. And probably same goes true for registry virtualization, you have special key in user's/system's registry whereto all registry access is redirected to (in much same way as Vista's UAC "virtualizes" applications; meaning it's more app-compat re-direction shim than virtualization), causing real registry still to bloat as more and more apps are added.

One important distinction between SG and SVS is not the redirection in itself as both does I/O redirection, SVS to real directory in real FS and SG to virtual directory on virtual FS, but it's that of isolation: in SoftGrid one package cannot see other package's data (files, dirs, registry entries etc.) as process' virtual environment is exclusive to that process whereas in SVS when application is activated, it's globally visible to other packages and to underlying OS.

/Kalle
Answered 07/16/2007 by: ksaunam
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