VMware has released App Volumes 3.0 in the last couple of weeks, but it’s aimed at Horizon Air hybrid or Horizon Air users. VMware recommends staying with 2.10 for Horizon on prem deployments.
For those of you that don’t know, its a real time application delivery platform that supports Horizon View and Citrix. Applications are assigned to AD users and groups and whenever a users logs in to a virtual desktop, the applications are mounted in real time and all files and registry changes are merged into the OS, meaning applications are available as soon as the desktop is ready. It’s a perfect fit for floating/non persistent desktops that are deleted on logoff.
So, App Volumes 3.0. The main thing to note about 3.0 is a platform change. Gone is the windows server and associated SQL database. It’s now gone like many other products down the hardened linux appliance route. In my opinion this is a good move. It not only makes deployment much simpler but adds more security and helps with not having to keep servers patched every month with Windows patches. When you do need to apply an appliance update they are very simple to do for other products so I don’t see App Volumes being any different
The other significant high level change is in some of the terminology. In previous versions you packaged applications into an ‘AppStack’. Now in version 3.0 you packing into an App Bundle, and then combine bundles to create an App Stack
So the platform has changed but what new functionality has been added? Here’s is a summary:
App Toggle – So in App Volumes up to version 2.10 you could assign one or more app stacks to a user but if you wanted to assign some apps from a single stack and not all of them, the only way to do it was to create a separate stack with only the required apps in it. The good news is that App Toggle fixes this. It allows you to deploy a single app stack to one or more users but at a user level, control which apps from the stack are actually assigned. For example if i provision a stack containing Firefox and MS Office i can assign the same stack to three users but give only firefox to the first, only office to the second and both firefox and office to the third, all using a single App Stack!
App Capture – App Capture is an application provisioning tool designed to make packaging easier. It’s command line only in this release but it allows you to run an appcapture command which creates an app stack. Then you do your install and reboot. Hey presto, your app is ready for deployment. These bundles can then be merged using the same tool to create a stack. You can even use it with Thinapp to do what VMware call App Isolation, which essentially is Thinapp inside app volumes.
AppScaling with Multizones – Allows you to scale across data centres by giving App Volumes the ability to replicate app stacks across sites. This does away with the requirement for a shared data centre between vCenters which we had before. However, this is only possible with App Stacks, and not writable volumes.
User environment manager – UEM 9.0 is now bundled with App Volumes meaning if you buy any version of App Volumes you will get UEM included. It’s easy to see why VMware are doing this. Selling both together gives you the ability with one purchase to deploy your applications and control their behaviour. There are three new App Volumes bundles
Standard edition contains App Volumes and UEM. The App Volumes features in this version are only the 2.10 features though
Advanced edition comes with all 3.0 capabilities, UEM and Thinapp and is the version most people will purchase outside of Horizon Enterprise
Finally, the Enterprise version contains all the components of Advanced and vROPS for published apps. This is aimed at Citrix users
Lastly, App Volumes 3.0 has a new web GUI modeled on the Astro interface. It’s a nice looking interface and very simple to navigate around.
One great thing about the new GUI is that it’s possible to configure App Volumes and UEM from within the same GUI. A wizard steps you through the process of capturing, deploying and customising. It’s worth pointing out however that the UEM functionality is ‘tech preview’ only. As a result the old gui is still available.