Book published: VMware ThinApp 4.7 Essentials

The first book on VMware ThinApp 4.7 has been published!! Specialist Systems Engineer ThinApp  at VMware Peter Bjork is the author of “VMware ThinApp 4.7 Essentials”.

What you will learn from this book is:

  • Concepts behind Application Virtualization
  • ThinApp architecture and vocabulary
  • Application Linking
  • Application packaging process and best practices
  • Various methods to deploy ThinApp packages
  • How to update your ThinApp project
  • ThinApp 4.7 design and implementation best practices
  • ThinApp troubleshooting

For more details on the great book and to order it, use the following link: http://www.packtpub.com/vmware-thinapp-4-7-essentials/book

View? No thanks, I’ll just use Appblast

The title of this article was one of the statements I heard last week. I also heard another interesting statements: “why use View? I will wait for Horizon”.

Back in February 2012, I published an article about VMware’s End User Computing vision and journey. In my opinion, that vision/journey hasn’t changed and still applies with the recent announcements at VMworld 2012. However, I have the feeling that the vision/journey need to be explained once again and maybe even more often, so people understand the vision and where EUC products fit in that vision/journey.

In a nutshell, VMware’s EUC vision starts with the future platform: The Horizon Suite- The Platform for the Mobile Workforce … applications, data and users in the post-PC era. Be aware that this Suite, or platform, contains multiple products/techniques, which are integrated with each other: View, ThinApp, Horizon Data, Horizon Mobile, Appblast and Horizon App Manager.

I have the idea that some people think they will be able to pick 1 product/technique and standardize on that: “All people will use Appblast for everything. There won’t be any need for VDI anymore”, as an example. That’s not true or even possible in today’s world. There isn’t 1 ultimate vehicle/technique to bring apps and data to any device in a secure and efficient way. A user’s workspace will deliver that user applications and data to any of his/her devices. Different products/techniques will be used to do so, to give that user the best experience to do his/her work on the device of that moment.

VMware calls it the Post-PC era but don’t think the PC, aka Windows is going away soon. Again, Windows won’t be as dominant as before anymore in the enterprise. The desktop (physical and/or virtual) won’t be the only place where users do their work. More devices, different platforms, less OS-dependent apps, but Windows will be there for a long time. That’s the reason for step #1: Optimize. That’s also the reason VMware keeps improving VMware View and introduce cool features like AppShift. Again, although Windows will not be as dominant, it still will be part of an enterprise user’s workspace environment

Now the journey: how do you get to that Post-PC era platform? VMware defined a 3-step journey:

  1. Optimize what you have,
  2. Embrace your/the Cloud,
  3. Escape to your/the Cloud

In my opinion, it doesn’t make sense to skip a step. You cannot “Embrace your/the Cloud until you have “Optimize what you have”. In other words, it doesn’t make sense to get Horizon (Suite and/or App Manager) before you use ThinApp and View. Technically, you could though. You could use Horizon App Manager for SaaS apps, you could use Horizon Data with the Horizon Suite with physical desktops. But, why wouldn’t you “Optimize what you have” first, virtualize applications, virtualize desktops, separate data and apps from physical desktops. Remove silos. Get savings out of that and become more efficient, more agile at the same moment. Then, invest those savings in more Cloud based apps: Saas or web service apps. Use a services broker like Horizon App manager. Distribute ThinApps via Horizon as well. Create a workspace where all techniques come together. Move to the your EUC cloud step-by-step.

ThinApp Setup Capture; Basics (video included)

A little while ago I wrote an article about one of the biggest secrets of VMware; ThinApp.  I wrote about what ThinApp is, how it fits in the End User Computing vision and what the features are.

Today, I would like to continue and show you the basics around virtualizing an application using ThinApp. I created a video where I virtualize Mozilla Firefox. I will show you all the steps creating the virtual “bubble”.  Many people haven’t seen or touched ThinApp and I would like to show you what the process is., the steps to take.  I won’t discuss details and features. This is purely about the basics. More information about details will follow shortly.

So, where to start…

For anyone who is interested in trying out ThinApp, you can download a trial. Click here for your 60-day evaluation.

After the software, you need a machine to “capture” your application/create your virtual applications.  Personally, I use Virtual Machines on VMware Fusion.  VM’s are great for ThinApp-ing. Create a snapshot of your VM and you can install, change, do whatever you want and after you’re done, revert to the snapshot and you can go ahead with another application. You can package on Windows XP or Windows 7. Choose the OS which is the “oldest” in your environment. If you have a mixed XP and W7 environment and you want a package to run on both, package the application on XP. Keep this machine as clean as possible. Install patches and leave it like that.  After that, install the ThinApp Setup Capture application, and lastly, take a snapshot.

Right, you are good to go. Pick your application and follow the steps in the video.

Again, I’m not touching details like entry points, data container, isolation modes, AppLink and ThinDirect. I will blog about those soon. In case you want to read ahead, see below for more information;

Entry points/Data container

Isolation Modes

ThinDirect

Enjoy creating your first ThinApp package!

User Virtualization in the Post PC-era?

Today I ran into an article which had an interesting quote;

 Persona Management isn’t mature enough yet, and VMware knows it, Dunkin’s Brennan said. The company probably added it just to “check the box”, but he speculated that VMware would get profile management up to speed by making an acquisition

We can have a discussion about the the first part in another article but especially the acquisition part caught my attention.

So, will VMware acquire another company to speed up its profile management? I think that is an interesting question. A different question but related to the first 1 could be; how important will User Virtualization be in, let’s say, 5 years? Yet another question; will you still need User Virtualization in 5 years?

First, let’s take 1 step back for a minute; Once upon a time, there were Windows PC’s and in Windows NT the profiling scheme was introduced. Then there were roaming profiles, mandatory profiles, default user profiles and Group Policies; all mechanisms to control the user, control and save their settings like printers/wallpaper, their permissions to shares and folders, what they are or aren’t allowed to do like accessing Control Panel. Also, store profiles centrally and users will have the same look and feel from any Windows PC. Separate the user from the Operating System.

Third party vendors like RTO, Appsense, RES and LiquidWare got into this space as well to fill gaps and add new features, moving on where standard Microsoft profiles and GPO’s stopped.

But, all the tools have 1 thing in common; Windows. That’s not a bad thing but it isn’t the only platform anymore to run applications. IOS/Android phones/tablets and Macs are out there in the enterprise, even privately owned ones. The world is changing and I believe it is the Post PC-era already.

Management will change. It has to change. Applications and data will be delivered to different devices in different ways; you access ThinApp apps via VMware View from your private Android Tab 1 moment. Next, you access a SaaS app on your corporate iPhone.

Instead of managing most things on a Windows level/device level, you have to take that management up a couple of levels. To me, that’s the user level. It will become more important who is allowed to access which application/data from what device and place. The underlying Operating System and device will become less important. Horizon App Manager will be that Universal Broker where you set those user based rules.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe Windows will be around for a long time as a platform to execute specific applications. But will that platform be considered to be big enough for VMware to invest in a Windows profile management tool? Again, interesting questions.

VMware ThinApp; ThinApp- Basics

Application virtualization helps you to separate the applications from the underlying OS which brings you a lot of benefits. VMware has a product called ThinApp which you can use to virtualize your applications.

I believe that ThinApp will get a huge boost now VDI/VMware View is very popular and more and more customers are implementing a virtual desktop environment. Both ThinApp and VMware View are very complementary and it makes sense to use them both; separate apps and OS, avoid conflicts between 2 applications, manage and maintain OS and applications independently. Also, save on storage. With ThinApp you can virtualize for example Office and provide it to users instead of installing Office inside every VM. For the record, ThinApp absolutely works in a physical environment as well.

Now, what is ThinApp?

Basically, VMware ThinApp makes it possible to run an application inside a “bubble” in stead of installing it locally. Because it is running inside a “bubble”, the application won’t “touch” your OS. When you run the application, you don’t have to install it first so this application won’t modify your system.

Inside the “bubble” there is a very small Virtual Operation System (VOS), Virtual Registry (VR) and Virtual File System (VFS). Everything the application does will be handled by the VOS, VR and VFS. It will intercept file and system calls. A “sandbox” is a place where the virtual app writes to. This can be settings like favorites in Mozilla Firefox. This to saves changes and make the life of a user easier.

When you “ThinApp” an application (which needs to be a Windows application), you will create a single file MSI or EXE file. The EXE or MSI is a choice you make during the packaging. You can copy/distribute this file and run it from almost any device; a share, USB, flash, Windows desktop but also publish it on a Terminal Server or Citrix Server.

When you put the package/EXE on a share and give users access to it, all your users can start an application from 1 file. When residing on a share, the packaged will be streamed to the (virtual) desktops. For offline users (experimental feature in View) you need to copy the file to the VM’s so the user can start the application when he/she is offline. In these cases, most times, you will use the MSI option. With this option, it looks like the application gets installed when starting it. It isn’t though. It will register itself inside the OS; you will see it in the start menu, add/remove programs and file association is established. File association means that the OS “knows” when you, for example, click on a PDF file, it needs to start the ThinApp version of Acrobat Reader.

Encapsulation and isolation are, again, the 2 magic words; the application is inside 1 package and isolated from the environment, other applications. Because of this you can run 2 versions of the same application together on the same system which in the traditional world wouldn’t be possible because off DLL issues.

Because ThinApp makes an application run inside a “bubble” (and is isolated) it won’t see other bubbles. This is perfect because this way you avoid conflicts between “bubbles”. On the other hand, what if 2 “bubbles” need to communicate with each other? Luckily there is a mechanism to make that happen; AppLink. With AppLink, which is a setting in your application package, you can let  “bubbles” communicate with each other.

A lot of information about ThinApp can be found on VMware.com. There is also a very active community where you can find a lot information about different kinds of applications and ThinApp.

When you want to try ThinApp packages, you can go to thindownload.com. Here you will find open license application which are virtualized with ThinApp.