My take on Application Virtualization.

Yesterday I wrote about my experience with the Citrix Profiler and some people got a little pissed about my comments. After thinking about what some of the guys said, I do realize I was probably too harsh but more than that, the fact I have been using App-V/Softgrid for so many years made me ‘blind’ to how weird that tool is sometimes.

So I decided to go down the memory lane and try to remember as much as I could about my experience with all the tools I worked with to determine which one would be the best.

The problem with that is to define ‘best’. For example, for the users they want a fast, completely seamless experience that even has shell integration working. From a packager perspective (the guys creating the ‘sequences’, ‘profiles’, etc) they want the tool to be as simple as possible to package apps and to work with anything. From an admin perspective ideally the tool would have no client, built-in security to allow/deny access to the app, very few, possibly none, backend requirements and so on. From a CIO perspective it must work great (perfectly), be 100% supported, be adopted pretty much anywhere and ideally, cheap or free.

So which tool offers all that as of today? Sorry but none. They all have something that pisses me off and that amazes me.

For example, thinking about App-V, I got so used to it, the fact I needed a ‘Q:’ drive, a policy to hide that on my TSs, a somehow cryptic .OSD file, no easy way to add scripts, etc, was simply ignored on my mind. Looking back at it, yes, it does indeed have some weird things/procedures associated with it.

In that respect Citrix Profiler is way simpler and in a way, much better. The same can be said for ThinApp or any other tool for that matter, XenoCode included. They all have their PROs and CONs at the end and in an ideal world I would love to see a tool that works as well as App-V, is simple to use as Citrix Profiler, has no client like ThinApp/XenoCode and so on. But we all know this does not exist as of today so we need to pick one I guess.

The message here is simple: based on your needs/requirements and on what you are already familiar with, pick the tool that seems the best for your particular job.

Keep in mind that Application Virtualization is here to stay and will be a major component in the future for desktops, hosted or not. So if you did not start playing with such cool technology, you better start. Go. Now.



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