Liquidware Labs FlexApp Review

By Rory Monaghan

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Introduction

At a couple of conferences, I spoke about Liquidware Labs FlexApp product but until today, I had not blogged about it on this site. FlexApp is an application layering product similar to AppVolumes, AppDisks and Unidesk BUT is also unique in it’s own right.

Speculative Bullshit and Insight

While Unidesk is an awesome solution for your entire virtual desktop management needs and more recently with their 4.0 release: a nice integration to sit on top of your Azure and XenApp environment, some organizations may want a less all encompassing product for their VDI management. Something they can just wedge into their existing already stacked VDI stack.

AppVolumes is pretty great for this reason! You can simply set it up and use it with any and all combinations of different products and just use it for the application delivery piece. AppVolumes is obviously owned by VMware, it will be interesting to see what VMware does with it as a product going forward. Who knows?..I do not! In my opinion, they are obviously building a very impressive stack with ESXi, vCenter, Horizon, Mirage, ThinApp, Immidio, AppVolumes etc. Not to mention VSAN! VMware are truly becoming a one stop shop. Here’s my speculative bullshit, will these products become part of an exclusive suite?..that’s just me thinking and typing. Don’t read into it! I don’t have any insider knowledge!

AppDisks is obviously tied into Citrix Studio with their latest release. It’s a Citrix centric product.

Like AppVolumes, FlexApp can be wedged into your existing stack. They don’t care if you have VMware products, Citrix products or Microsoft products on the backend but as I say, FlexApp is pretty unique in it’s own right. Along with FlexApp, they have their ProfileUnity product for managing your desktops and profiles. You can deploy your application layers and manage many other facets of your virtual desktop environment from within the ProfileUnity console! That could be attractive to XenApp customers and\or those using RDS. And I’m sure even for some of the Horizon customers!

For a quick glance side by side feature comparison between the different layering products, check out this great cheat sheet by Bas Van Kam!

How does it work?

Liquidware-Labs-FlexApp-Application-Layering-Architecture

Like any other application layering product. You perform an install capture of your application on a VM. The output is a virtual disk that stores the contents of the application. When deployed that disk is mounted on the endpoint and through the magic of the LWL filter driver, the application is presented to the user with their regular and familiar desktop\start menu shortcuts.

Just like every other layering product the greatness of the solution is the high compatibility rate for deploying applications as layers. Things like drivers aren’t a problem like they are with traditional application virtualization products. (For the most part that is!).

While packaging isn’t required when deploying layers, sometimes deploying a static layer can be limiting in itself. When the user launches the application, it may create some files and folders in the users profile. This can be stored in a provided LWL FlexDisk or How do you make sure the layers and the data are homogeneous and dynamic on any desktop? Allow the profile to be created independent and then use ProfileUnity to manage the entire user experience! Or at least that’s something I played with. Perhaps others will prefer FlexDisk for simplicity. I like roaming the files externally from the disk.

FlexApp, just like AppVolumes can allow you to deploy your layers to physical machines, not just virtual!

To see some of these different deployments options and capabilities, check out my demo video below:

Demo

 

Conclusion

I really like the integration of FlexApp with ProfileUnity. I’m an advocate for products like RES One because I always loved deploying my App-V applications and then subsequently managing all policies and external configs in the one console. With ProfileUnity, I can do all of that AND deploy my layers!

I found the initial setup a little confusing at times as a newb but got the hang of it. I was pretty busy leading up to my presentation and not in the mindset for deep analysis of the admin guide, so that could just be my dumbass being dumb! 😀

I have deployed to my laptop and it worked well. I have NOT tried using JUST the FlexApp component. That is something I wonder about and would like to learn more about. It’s cool having that ProfileUnity integration but what about for those organizations who may already using a different products like AppSense, RES One or Immidio. Maybe that will be another demo\blog post for another day!

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