VMware have been transforming their End User Computing offering in recent years with acquisitions like Immidio and Carbon Black plus partnerships with vendors like ControlUp, not to mention their awesome Workspace ONE solution which has been going from strength to strength. Now they are combining their suite of products for the Anywhere Workspace offering.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the VMUG EUC Day, I covered a little bit on VMware’s own native application packaging and delivery solutions for the Horizon and Workspace ONE suite of products but as it was a VMUG event and most people were already very familiar with the likes of ThinApp and App Volumes, I decided to instead focus on other options like MSIX, MSIX App Attach and Numecent Cloudpaging.
I figure it is worthy of a blog post too. If you are working with Horizon and/or Workspace ONE what are the best options for deploying your applications?
Options from VMware
At the time of my session and at the time of writing this blog post it appears ThinApp has an uncertain future. End of General Support is getting close to that key 18 month expiry window that I use as a rule of thumb for migrating apps from one format to another. That is the average time required for a desktop migration project and in reality, the most difficult part of that process is the app migration.
Never fear though because as alluded to, if you are a VMware customer you also have the App Volumes option for deploying your applications as App Stacks. Most of your applications should work when deployed as an App Stack, so if you tried to use ThinApp widely in the past but found yourself failing to get even a large minority of your apps to work, you should have greater success with App Volumes. When VMware acquired Cloud Volumes one of the initial use cases was to take your existing ThinApps and simply deliver the container in an App Stack.
There is the potential to move to MSIX and just deliver your MSIX containers in App Volumes. Ryan Mangan has a great blog post on this, you can read it HERE and his short video demo is provided above. It is a good option, and it can offer similar benefits as App Attach for a dynamic app delivery method. When App Volumes was in it’s infancy during webinars there was a warning about deploying too many App Stacks to a single machine. That limit doesn’t get talked about as much anymore and from version 2.15 and forward it seems to me at least that the performance impact experienced in the past is now less evident. Right now, I am not considering use of MSIX or MSIX App Attach in production for reasons I discuss in my previous blog post.
Nutanix’ reference architecture recommends deploying no more than 200 writeable volumes but as a VMware customer, you don’t really need to use writeable volumes any way. With the acquisition of Immidio, VMware has a good alternative for persisting app settings and user data.
Image sourced from VMware
When I did a lot of my App Volumes testing, I found performance on our physical endpoints particularly bad but that was back in v2.10. I don’t have much need to deploy that way to physical endpoints anymore and it also could have been caused by using cheaper storage on our physical desktops vs what we run in the data center. Maybe mileage may vary.
What Fits Best for You?
While the rate of app compat with App Volumes was definitely higher than with ThinApp, it wasn’t 100%. I’m fortunate that I have gotten to work with many different app delivery products like App-V, Symantec Workspace Streaming, App Layering, XenApp Streaming, Cloudpaging and more. My go to nowadays is Numecent Cloudpaging due to the high first-time success rate. You can read some of my other blog posts and watch my VMUG session for more on Cloudpaging but in conclusion for this post.
I reached out on Twitter to some in the VMware EUC team for comment but didn’t get a reply. Without any information to go on other than the product lifecycle I shared above, I believe that If you are currently using ThinApp, it is time to consider alternatives. In my opinion, the effort required to deliver apps as MSIX even with App Volumes is not worth it right now. I recommend waiting until it gets a higher rate of compatibility. I also recommend trying out VMware App Volumes, it is second only to Liquidware FlexApp in terms of layering solutions with FlexApp having a richer feature set and some micro isolation goodness included. As a VMware customer right now my preference would be to use App Volumes that we are licensed for together with Numecent Cloudpaging and to use both to get away from multiples desktop images for different departments.