I've been a contract wise/admin studio packager for 6 years and have amassed a huge amount of hard earned knowledge. But is it time to get out of the packaging game?

The more I read about app and desktop virtualisation the more I see my job becoming obsolete. Or at least becoming a more general skillset with lower rates.

I'm interested if anyone else has the same concerns? And if not, why not?
Thanks.R.
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I understand your concerns Rasputin as I've been in the game for nearly 10 years, however, I believe that the only thing thats changed are the goal posts.

I firmly believe that there will always be a need to a lesser or greater extent for an applications packager, but, one of the biggest threats to the packaging role is outsourcing. I've always found that the role is a self-contained one and is ripe for outsourcing (I've been there [:@]). Meaning that it potentially can be done anywhere on the planet with a decent bandwidth connection and a good grasp of the English language. This is not a derogatory comment, just a common business fact.

Getting back to your question [:)] I believe that Application VR is a potential way to go. I'm currently working for a company looking at this technology (Citrix and SoftGrid or App-V as its known now), and the bottom line is that the application still needs some sort of work done to it (E.G. Sequencing). I would say that a SoftGrid Administrator is potentially a natural progression for an experienced packager and I know that SoftGrid expertise is VERY limited at the moment out in the marketplace and the rates reflect that. See this thread http://itninja.com/question/what-scripting-languages-do-you-use?6549 and you'll see (reading between the lines) that your not the only one starting to cover the bases. I had the same concerns when moving from old school Setup.exe's to .MSIs and thought that things would change but they didn't. As mentioned above, looking back the only thing that changed were the goal posts as far as packaging was concerned. [;)]
Answered 06/27/2008 by: Demigod
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Noticing similar trends myself; Softgrid is definitely more forgiving than MSI packaging. There's a rising pressure from people who have not touched MSI in the past to "let them drive" virtual software infrastructure. Not that I oppose, but my belief is that you have to grasp fundamentals of old-school MSI packaging before you move to software virtualization world.
For you, Rasputin:
  • There are plenty of applications that may be an overkill to virtualize for an average Joe who sees packaging as taking two snapshots and extracting the differences.
  • There are special-purpose applications that require creativity to fit them into a particular environment.
  • There are companies that are years behind in Software Distribution.

Apart from that, the field is getting smaller and younger.

What do you see as a "natural progression", or the next step for a professional with several years of packaging and software distribution experience?
Answered 06/27/2008 by: revizor
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Demigod:

I agree with the outsourcing issue, which I think is only going to get worse. You have the likes of HP and Dell with packaging "factories" in India that are going to undercut everyone until they also get offices over there. Making the pool of jobs smaller and smaller.

revizor:

I see the next step as to becoming a sequencer (App-V/SVS etc) to be honest. For the short term at least. Either that or a move into managing a migration. We have vista hopefully picking up soon, then in a few years Win 7.

If we look 5-10 years in the future I think app delivery could be virtualised as standard by the vendors or web based. The "old" difficult/expensive way we package and deliver applications will be a thing of the past.

In the short term, roll on vista and app compatability issues. That, plus high wage inflation in India :) Hopefully that'll break the outsourcing model.
Answered 06/27/2008 by: Rasputin
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Developers keep telling me that my job will disappear. Ok, when everything becomes web based I'll believe that but considering I just packaged a Cobol VM for Windows I don't think old apps will disappear as fast as coders think. I do think the big outsourcers will take a chunk out of the industry but let's face it. Have you ever seen a HP, IBM, Dell, or EDS outsourcing deal provide excellent customer service? <insert laughing here>

The clients looking for a quick fix to try and cut costs will go to these companies but to be honest the clients I work for and look for want quality work and understand getting it done right saves money in the long run. If anything the demand for packagers that know what they are doing is the highest I've seen it and virtualization is the next extension of the skill set.
Answered 06/27/2008 by: kkaminsk
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I won't jump of this boat just yet if I were you.

To honestly tell you, I am not a 'packager'. it is just one of the things I do and get paid for.

My actual background is SE, software engineering. And from what I can see, I don't see the disappearance of all desktop programs, nor will there be 100% idiot proof prepackaged software releases in the next 20 years.

What I mean is, software packaging can only be wiped by two means, first, all programs as a whole returns back to network based, like Unix which is like remote Windows Terminals. Or two, all software releases comes prepackaged from software developers.

As a developer, my concern was never how 'easy' it was to install my software, but how accurate my code works.

However, there are other types of developers where their primary goal is to ensure the piracy of their software is limited or recorded, such as Maple 12. They've stopped the silent activation this year, or AdminStudio where you'll have to pay them 250 bucks to tell them that their VMWare launcher and their documentations are outdated.

With people like those around, I am sure software packaging will be around at least, until the death of these companies.

To kkaminsk, you are right, Web Apps are slowly creeping up to the point where some companies' primary systems are all within a web App. Now all those really need is a hacker who have too much time on his or her hands to points out how silly it is to use these software. I'd really like to see a 100% secured Apache Server ;) (should be launghing by now if you understood rule #1 on how to secure a computer system.......unplug the power cord)
Answered 07/25/2008 by: devGuy
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ORIGINAL: kkaminsk
Developers keep telling me that my job will disappear.


Well, if companies like Adobe did their job and made good MSI-files you would be out of job today. :)

But since they do their best to mess up MSI's (if they even use it and not just oldschool exe-files) someone has to cleanup after them.

I've been on 2 days education about VMware Thinapp and there you have the same problems as before and then some new ones. So if you do have experience in packaging since before you have a headstart.
Answered 08/01/2008 by: Bobo
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Your concerns should not be that of whether your job will vanish, but instead how it will evolve. A complete transformation as of you are describing would take plenty of time, and during that time, companies do not want to be risking stuff like that. The more you learn, the better of an asset you are. Do your homework and you will never have to fear being out of a job. [;)]
Answered 11/17/2008 by: RyRy
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to kkaminsk and devguy, good comments but I see serious flaws with the "everything is going to SVS/thin client web app/virtualization/<insert latest buzzword technology here>" argument: DISK SPACE IS CHEAP AND GETTING CHEAPER ALL THE TIME!!!!. Given that, and the abundance of rich programming interfaces, why in the dickens do we want to force users into crippled web interfaces? If the thick app helps the users, by gosh, give them the thick app!!!!.

You have to ask yourself: Why virtualization? Where is it even going? (unknown, still emerging technology). Softgrid? OK...what is it even? What are the advantages? Too soon to tell, IMHO. citrix ...puke. web apps...OK, have you worked with them? MOST OF THEM SUCK. Give me a thick client any time. What's that you say? it takes 80 MB of disk space? Big whoop. If it gives the users a better experience and lets them do their jobs better, well worth it.

no insult to kkaminsk or anybody on the softgrid side, but we've been hearing about the thin client, the diskless workstation, the 100% web app, only to discover that each of these technologies have drawbacks of their own. (Citix anyone?)....

I certainly don't think that technology is going to stay the same. Far from it. But you have to extrapolate from the trends that you KNOW are going to continue, and what follows from it. I see these 3 trends continuing:

1. DISK SPACE IS CHEAP AND GETTING CHEAPER ALL THE TIME!!!!.
2. Internet connections and network speeds will continue to increase and get more secure, and will be available to more devices.
3. Memory requirements of operating systems will continue to increase. 64 bit hardware and the ability to use more memory will increase its production and lower its cost, and developers will find more ways to use it (just as with disk space).

Now, do these developments lead you to think "Gosh, I'd better conserve disk space and network bandwidth and force all my users into web apps or use SVS"?

Or do they lead to thoughts like "Man, we can give the users full featured autodesk and we don't even have to worry about disk space or bandwidth! Memory? Bah! Our new Vista machines eat that stuff for lunch!"

I think the latter. But I'm glad to be corrected if I'm off base somewhere.
Thanks for the good discussion!
Answered 02/27/2009 by: aogilmor
Ninth Degree Black Belt

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Just thought i would mention im using AppV withing SCCM07.
And there are applications you simply cant virtualise....

Looking into the crystal ball...
I reacon MS will eventually back VHD as its replacement to SFT files (app v file).
Citrix will back VHD in its Applicaiton Virtualisation solution....
And MS may release future Office versions in both MSI and VHD.

Bare metal client side hypervisors from Intel..... I think this could have a more profound affected on distributed computing.
Answered 03/18/2009 by: rahvintzu
Orange Senior Belt

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from what i see with virtualiztion it actually requires more packages, it is harder for techs to just kinda make stuff work.
Answered 03/18/2009 by: sbequette
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I think it is a matter of familiarity with the teachnology. I am a big virtualization advocate so maybe my opinion is slanted but when we compared time to package MSI vs App-V we noticed App-V took less time on average (roughly 40% less time). If you go to an outsourcer such as Dell you'll notice that reflected in their pricing. The downside to the time advantage is that if the application does not work in a virtual environment you have to let go and let the application be deployed via another method rather than having a packager bash his brains out trying to get the application to work and eat your time savings. Personally I love the fact that I don't have to fight with the vendor MSI nearly as much with application virtualization which can eat so much time depending on the customizations required.

As for requiring more packages I wouldn't necessarily say it is a requirement but an option with application virtualization. Now I can run Oracle 7, 8, 9 and 10 side by side but does that mean I should be letting my application experts build custom middleware environments ad-hoc?
Answered 03/19/2009 by: kkaminsk
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I think some people here are getting caught up on how virtualization of apps affects them (the packager). As Kevin said, it cuts packaging time in half (on the 80% of apps that can be virtualized) and there's little to no regression testing required; but you're missing the bigger picture.
Virtualizing apps also significantly reduces support costs.
- When you want to upgrade or remove the app, there's no impact to the workstation. You eliminate O/S decay.
- Upgrading/removing/installing virt apps never require a reboot. No maintanence windows!
- When a workstation is reimaged or refreshed, the apps and config data are ready almost instantly.
- When a virt app "breaks" it's a matter of one refresh command and it's working again. (less support calls.. SHORTER support calls, less support call escalations.. they stay at helpdesk).
- Apps follow users from machine to machine.. this reduces the O/S decay and install time on multiple machines if a user is mobile.

Virtualizing apps is the future.
Answered 03/19/2009 by: turbokitty
Sixth Degree Black Belt

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I've had the same concerns from time to time.
May I ask...where have you been for the past 6 years, if not on appdeploy? What contributions have you made to the community out of your hard earned knowledge? You're under no obligation to share, but I find it keeps my skills sharper if I visit the boards and read and address or try to solve interesting questions (not the ones where the poster doesn't know how to use google, LOL!!!)
Answered 03/25/2009 by: aogilmor
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Aogilmor... who are you addressing Turbokitty?
Answered 03/25/2009 by: rahvintzu
Orange Senior Belt

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Aogilmor... who are you addressing Turbokitty?See the link on the right-hand side of posts where it says "(In reply to [whoever])"? That kind of tells you...
Answered 03/28/2009 by: VBScab
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fair enough.... didnt notice...
[:)]

cheers
Answered 03/28/2009 by: rahvintzu
Orange Senior Belt

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yeah, to rasputin. I was just curious - i know there must be more packagers than ever appear on appdeploy or other fora, still I wonder how does one package for 6 years without ever becoming a member of appdeploy?!? LOL...[:D] And his first post is a question whether he should leave the field. i don't doubt his skills or authenticity, just seems strange to me.
Answered 03/30/2009 by: aogilmor
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...still I wonder how does one package for 6 years without ever becoming a member of appdeploy?!?

I've been packaging for many years and this is my first post. :) But I have been using the site as a resource for years. Guilty!! But still a real packager. Don't doubt Rasputin, it is most likely a real packager too.
Answered 03/30/2009 by: sv408
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Define what a real packager is... is a real packager someone that uses WIX or ORCA to create their packages or someone that hops on the forums asking guys like aogilmor, vbscab, angeld or jmcfadyen (i know i've left people out) to do their jobs for them so they look good in front of their clients?
Answered 03/30/2009 by: rbrucelee1978
Orange Belt

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LOL
Answered 03/31/2009 by: AngelD
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