The Virtualization Practice

Application Virtualization

Application Virtualization covers application layering and application delivery approaches like streaming applications, and local application virtualization. Infrastructure as a Service focuses upon isolating the operating system from its underlying hardware and allowing multiple instances of operating systems to share that underlying hardware. Application Virtualization focuses upon isolating application from their underlying operating systems. ...
This make it unnecessary to install applications into operating systems, makes it easier to update new versions of applications, and breaks the dependencies between versions of applications and the specific versions of operating systems. Popular application virtualization offerings include Microsoft App-V, VMware ThinApp, and the XenApp Plugin for Hosted and Streaming applications.

Application Virtualization allows users to use potentially conflicting software in the same workspace. Towards the end of 2010 there was a great deal of discussion about the complexity of using application virtualization to finally let corporations end their dealings with the recalcitrant Internet Explorer 6.

In Virtualizing Internet Explorer: Microsoft takes the ball home and goes home we discussed why solving IE6 issues with Application Virtualization is difficult. Then, in December we reported that Browisum had crafted a lifeline and suggested a release date around the end of 2010.

To quote Robert Burns “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley”. Still, Browsium have announced the release candidate to their beta testers. With its release is it time to put IE8 compatibility issues to bed?

Ericom has has won the race to deliver the first new product release of the “Year of Desktop Virtualization” with the launch of Ericom PowerTerm WebConnect 5.7.

WebConnect (sorry Ericom, but “PowerTerm WebConnect 5.7″ takes too much space on the page to type out every time) is Ericom’s answer to Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop, plus or minus a few bells and whistles. On the plus side WebConnect includes mainframe and midrange terminal emulation software to provide access to legacy systems, as well as offering support for mixed environments consisting of servers running Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2008 R2 grouped together in a single farm, and manages to do all this with a single product where Citrix still requires two.

Given that vSphere provides significant benefits in terms of cost savings and business agility, those benefits are tied to and constrained by the ability of vSphere to provide backward compatibility with existing legacy enterprise systems. This backward compatibility makes it impossible for vSphere to provide infinite horizontal scalability. Moving to the same architecture as the most highly scaled out public cloud vendors provides for a more radical set of benefits, but at the cost of breaking backward compatibility for many applications.

Browsium crafts lifeline for IE 6 users

Startup Browsium, is readying a lifeline for enterprise IT organizations that moving to Windows 7 but unable to escape their addiction to Internet Explorer 6. The Washington DC-based startup staffed by ex-Microsoft employees is planning to release UniBrows an add-on for Internet Explorer 8 that lets customers access IE6 dependent web apps from the now defacto standard that is IE 8.

There is great outrage to Microsoft’s reluctance to play ball and support virtualization of IE. Without an alternative, the solutions offered by Microsoft are expensive, cumbersome and difficult to maintain. Virtualising the application may well allow different browser versions to co-exist – but the user-experience can be cumbersome with links to other applications not always launching the correct browser and users having to know which browser to choose. Unibrows offers an interesting alternative utilising isolation to support the deployment of different controls and centralisation to allow management and control and importantly wrapped up in what sounds like a very appealing cost.

Application Deployment solutions reduce the cost of delivering applications and help you manage license use? With the end of support for Windows XP happening in 2014 many businesses are moving towards Windows 7 – ideally this inevitable cost is kept low. Application Virtualization can be used on ‘traditional’ desktops and laptops. Application Virtualization can be used in client side-hypervisors. Application Virtualization extends and increases the efficiencies of desktop virtualization as well as enabling portability and improving compatibility of applications. Application Virtualization can free you, not only from the limitation of having to “install within each device”, but lead the way in offering an alternative to “install on only corporate devices”. Application Virtualization can be a tool to reduce the complexity and time needed to move from Windows XP to Windows 7, and from future application updates. Indeed, for many companies, Application Virutalization is an option that can be used now by utilising existing license agreements, or for less cost than converting the application to run as a web-based service.

The Freemium sales model is a business model innovation best suited to inexpensive products that are very easily understood (and therefore not very new or very different) and that solve an obvious problem in a manner that is more convenient for the customer to acquire and implement. There are not many new virtualization and cloud technology companies who set out to produce undifferentiated products which suggests that a general application of the Freemium model to startups in our ecosystem is ill advised. Enterprise customers should pay great attention to products that are being marketing in this manner to ensure that they do not end up growing the use of something that was purchased in a tactical manner into a strategic use case.

On the heels of receiving United States patent approval for its RES Virtual Desktop Extender (VDX) technology, RES Software have announced that it will also be offering VDX as a standalone product. A feature within RES Workspace Manager (formerly RES PowerFuse), VDX serves as a fundamental component in the successful deployment of virtual desktops. It enables local applications that typically do not run smoothly, or at all, in virtual environments to run seamlessly within a virtual session. However, while VDX’s functionality allows wider access to hosted desktops, organisations need to ensure that the management and maintenance of that legacy environment isn’t overlooked to the point where it impacts user experience and the organisation’s security.