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W H I T E PA P E R

5 Key Considerations to Successful Application Virtualization Implementation
From David Davis, IT professional, blogger, speaker, video training author, vExpert, VCP, VCAP-DCA, CCIE, and author of the How-To Guy blog at Virtualization Review

5 Key Considerat ions to Successful Applicat ion Virtualizat ion Implementat ion

5 Key Considerations to Successful Application Virtualization Implementation
Most IT administrators have more tasks, projects and problems than they have time for in today’s constantly changing computing environment. And, many of the common solutions for IT problems are overly complex to implement or painful to maintain. Does that sound all too familiar? Application virtualization is an application deployment solution that many organizations are considering or have already started implementing. This white paper will first make the business case for why you need application virtualization to begin with, then you’ll learn five key considerations to ensure that you successfully implement application virtualization at your company. the same time, end users cannot test new applications, and applications from different software companies can conflict with one another. • Significant time spent testing to prevent application conflicts - in order to prevent end user application conflicts, an IT administrator can spend significant time testing new applications with existing applications to attempt to prevent application conflicts. • Delayed application deployments - due to the required testing time, end users don’t get the applications they need in a timely manner. • Downtime due to applications being unavailable when application conflicts occur, the involved applications could be unavailable causing significant loss in productivity for end users and, potentially, large financial loss for the company. • Time consuming application updates - new applications have to be installed causing downtime for end user desktops and loss of productivity for IT administrators to monitor the queued installations across hundreds or thousands of desktops. • Unproductive IT staff - IT staff spends unnecessary time working on application deployment and, instead, that time could be spent on IT projects that provide a positive return on investment for the company. • Wasted licenses of applications - because application deployment is time consuming, IT staff typically choose to just deploy all applications on all desktops resulting in wasted application licenses, and potential license compliance issues.

Making the Business Case

Why should application virtualization be on the list of your critical IT projects for the year? Most companies today struggle with end user application deployment because they have a reactive, manual approach to preparing applications for deployment and, because they use traditional application deployments which involve installing the application onto the OS. The biggest single problem with traditional methods is that they are difficult to manage. Installing applications, and keeping applications up-to-date on a single desktop or laptop system can be a real challenge. If it’s a challenge on a single desktop, then it can be an overwhelming challenge across hundreds or thousands of desktops in an enterprise. The problems include: • Application conflicts - newer applications are in conflict with older applications, both cannot be installed at

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5 Key Considerat ions to Successful Applicat ion Virtualizat ion Implementat ion

To state it simply, today’s traditional method of deploying applications to end user desktops isn’t enough. It’s costing you and your company time and money. The business case is that your company can no longer afford to be using outdated deployment methods and it’s time to consider application virtualization. Many of the challenges covered above are solved by today’s application virtualization technologies. Now, let’s cover 5 key considerations that you must take to implement application virtualization.

format. For example, once virtualized, Microsoft App-V creates a SFT file, VMware ThinApp creates an EXE, and Citrix XenApp creates a “profile”. If you have used application virtualization in the past, one of the challenges you may have faced is getting your existing application packages converted into virtual applications that work as expected when run. Converting applications on your own can be timeconsuming and have the potential of being unsuccessful if you are taking a “trial and error” approach. Today, this process has gotten easier thanks to a greater number of applications being tested and documented (for example, the ThinApp Community Portal offers 66 application project files), and third-party Application Readiness solutions that automatically convert to virtual formats to reduce the time to virtualize your existing MSI files and allow you to deploy packages to desktops with greater success. Factors to consider while converting your packages into virtual applications: • Application Isolation - what operating system resources will your application need once virtualized? • Application Linking - what other applications does your application need to communicate with? • Application Deployment - who will be using the application and what is their network connection? • Application Upgrade - once deployed, how will this application be upgraded? Even with a seemingly successful conversion of your application to a virtual application, you’ll need to test the virtual application on all operating systems in use at your company. As part of this testing, you should take into consideration not only that the application works but that it can be used with other linked applications. Typically, the process of virtualizing an application is a two step process broken up into “setup capture” and “build”. In the “setup capture” phase, you install your application on a clean computer so that your application virtualization program can compare what changes were made during the installation. These changes are then stored in “project files”. Those project files can be edited and tweaked after creation. Then, the project files go through a “build” process where they are turned into a “package”. That package file is the virtualized application that, once tested, will be deployed in our next step. However, before you deploy it, you’ll need to ensure that you spend time testing it, ensuring there are no conflicts due to shortcuts or file associations. There are Application Readiness solutions for application virtualization available that enable you to automatically convert to virtual formats, test, validate and edit virtual application packages.

#1 Which Application Virtualization Platform?

The top tier application virtualization platforms are: • Microsoft® Application Virtualization (App-V) • VMware® ThinApp™ • Citrix® XenApp™ Each of these platforms has its own set of strengths and weaknesses; and a full-fledged comparison is beyond the scope of this white paper. While any of these application virtualization platforms should offer your company a successful application virtualization solution, you should research and test each of these platforms to select the one that is best for your company’s needs. Free evaluation versions of these application virtualization solutions are available from their respective Websites. While most companies try to standardize a single application virtualization platform, there are times when multiple platforms are required. If this is the case, there are third-party Application Readiness solutions you can virtualize applications into any one format, or all three formats at the same time, so that you have the flexibility to choose the most appropriate deployment type.

#2 Which Applications Are in Use?

Prior to virtualizing your applications, you need to inventory the applications used in your enterprise. As part of this, it is recommended that you determine not only what those applications are, but who uses them, and what licenses have been purchased. Then, with a consolidated list of applications you can begin to determine which applications should be virtualized. Most applications available today can be virtualized but the old adage ‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’ holds true. For example, applications that use hardware dongles, device drivers, low level system drivers, or have multiple application dependencies can be problematic. There are third-party Application Readiness solutions available which can test applications to ensure they will work if converted to virtual applications.

#3 How to Convert?

A required part of any application virtualization solution is that you convert your existing applications into a virtual

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5 Key Considerat ions to Successful Applicat ion Virtualizat ion Implementat ion

#4 How to Deploy and Determine Success?

Depending on the application virtualization platform you selected, the steps to deploy the virtualized applications will vary. To put it simply, the end users just need to “run” the virtualized applications – how you direct them to do that is up to you. In some cases, deploying virtualized applications is as easy as providing end users access to shortcuts that stream the virtualized application over a network share. The virtualized applications could also be deployed using traditional software deployment solutions already in use in your company. Or, you could deploy the virtualized applications using Microsoft Windows Active Directory (AD) Group Policy. As with any project, you need to evaluate your success (or lack of success) to determine if you’ve made the right choices. With application virtualization, the major success factors are: • Time saved in a typical application deployment. • Time saved by in testing new applications. • Time saved when updating applications. • Cost saved by reducing the number of application licenses required. • Application downtime prevented.

Summary

Application virtualization platforms and third-party Application Readiness solutions have matured to make virtualizing applications easier than ever before. Traditional application deployment headaches, wasted time, and lost revenue can be reduced with today’s applications virtualization solutions. Enterprises should incorporate the five key considerations for application virtualization listed in this white paper to ensure a successful application virtualization deployment. Once implemented, enterprises must measure the success, both in saved time and reduced cost, of application virtualization. Additionally, enterprises should ensure that there is a consistent and repeatable process around application virtualization preparation and management so that application virtualization can become a default method of deploying applications. If planned and executed properly, application virtualization can be one of the best solutions available to solve one of today’s toughest IT problems.

About the Author

David Davis is an IT professional, blogger, speaker, video training author, vExpert, VCP, VCAP-DCA, CCIE, and author of the How-To Guy blog at Virtualization Review.

About Flexera Software

#5 How can I Implement Application Virtualization Faster?

Once you have proven that application virtualization can be a benefit to you, and to your company, you should consider how you can make the process of preparing and managing applications for virtualization more efficient. For application virtualization to be truly successful over time, you’ll want to minimize the manual effort to convert applications and have a standardized process in place for continued management of applications. The process of virtualizing an application needs to be quick, repeatable and consistent. The best way to do this is to research and implement an Application Readiness solution for application virtualization that is designed to automate this process and to manage the applications, once virtualized. Third-party Application Readiness tools can help you to: • Quickly determine what applications are suitable for application virtualization. • Speed the conversion process. • Allow you to edit packaged applications with ease. • Test for conflicts between virtualized applications. In general, streamline the application virtualization process.

Flexera Software is the leading provider of strategic solutions for Application Usage Management; solutions delivering continuous compliance, optimized usage and maximized value to application producers and their customers. Flexera Software is trusted by more than 80,000 customers that depend on our comprehensive solutions- from installation and licensing, entitlement and compliance management to application readiness and enterprise license optimization - to strategically manage application usage and achieve breakthrough results realized only through the systems-level approach we provide. For more information, please go to: www.flexerasoftware.com

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