Day 5 of the VMware View boot camp was “ThinApp” day. Heath Doer or VMware discussed the benefits of using ThinApp to deliver applications, outlined the ThinApp reference architecture, and discussed how to integrate ThinApp packaged applications with VMware. As with the previous videos I will summarize my takeaways from the daily video. Virtualization: Turns a monolithic system to modular by breaking the bond between the hardware, operating system, and applications. What are the positives of that?

  • Each “module” of the workstation can now be managed separately.
  • The solution is more flexible since neither layer is bound to the one that surrounds it.
  • Costs can be reduced since the modules are deployed once, managed as one, and used by many.
What does the combination of View and ThinApp give us?
Storage needs reduced:
  • Fewer images/less image customization needed since most applications are delivered via ThinApp.
  • Images themselves are smaller and less complex since only the base OS is required.
Streamlined software delivery without agents or additional infrastructure:
  • Multiple versions (Office, Internet browsers, etc) can be run on the same VM at the same time.
  • Can be integrated into the existing environment without the need to add additional server software or hardware.
Streamlined application patching:
  • Patch an application once for the entire environment.
  • In place upgrades as newly patched applications can be deployed in place.
Migration readiness:
  • OS image and applications can be migrated independently of each other.
Key benefits of ThinApp:
  • Agentless: Single file (MSI or EXE) application, no installation or local registry changes required to run a ThinApp, and zero managed required on the local device.
  • Seamless integration: No streaming hardware or software required; plugs into any existing infrastructure management framework.
  • Run (almost) any application from any device:
    • Applications can be run from USB, desktop, terminal services, or Citrix.
    • Windows applications from simple to complex are supported.
    • Any components required for application functionality can be run side by side (multiple versions of Java and .Net are provided as examples).
  • Security without compromising flexibility: ThinApp provides a virtual registry that prevents local registry changes and driver installs. Applications are execute in user mode; local administrative rights are not required.
How ThinApp works:
  • Encapsulates and isolates all the components of the application installation.
  • Intercepts all file and system calls from the application to the host.
  • Uses a virtual operating system (VOS) to “run” the application.
    • This VOS tracks all process and threads within the ThinApp virtual registry.
  • DLL dependencies are loaded from a DLL/EXE/OCX archive within the ThinApp application package.
How is a ThinApp application created:
  • ThinApp Setup Capture utility creates a baseline snapshot of the image prior to the application installation.
  • The application is installed, and the “Build” phase of the Setup Capture utility scans for all changes to the image and creates the virtualized application package.
  • Package options and “entry points” (shortcuts used to launch the application) are set.
  • Package is now ready to be built and put into production.
View Composer integration:
  • Composer can make ThinApps available within a View VM automatically.
  • Application “writes” can be directed to the user data disk (this is the default).
  • Users can be updated to newer versions of the ThinApp packaged application seamlessly.
  • Overall storage needs reduced and application deployment/entitlement/management simplified.
  • Quote from customer: “Application updates are kind of a non-event now”.
Random ThinApp notes:
  • ThinApp packages can talk together and with the host OS.
  • ThinApps can be streamed (only necessary data needed to run the application is copied locally) within Viewfrom a central location or executed locally.
    • Streaming packages are easy to spot since the application will be much smaller than the non streaming version.
  • Remote users should not attempt to stream applications over the WAN/remote link; ideal configuration is to use a View desktop in the datacenter and execute the ThinApp package from there.
  • ThinApp “AppSync” technology enables locally copied ThinApp packages to check in with an “AppSync Point” to see if they are running the latest version; applications can then be updated automatically.
Very interesting subject today although the slides contained a lot of information that was not talked about during the presentation. The bright side of this is that I was forced to do a little research when writing this post. Visit the discussion page for today if you want to read more about the topic of the day.
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