Extended App-V 5 integration in RES Workspace Manager 2014 SR2, how does it work?

Intro
With the release of Workspace Manager 2014 SR2 (WM from now on), RES has extended the App-V 5 integration making it possible to automatically Add and Publish a package inside the user context. WM does this with evaluated permissions since the user doesn’t have the permissions to add App-V 5 package itself, the add and publish is executed when the user clicks on the application for the first time making it a Just in Time (JIT) deployment method. I have been involved in the pre-stage of this feature and would like to discuss how it works and how it differentiates from App-V Scheduler.

How does it work?
The concept is pretty simple, there are a few options added in the console after you select the .appv file :

  • Package delivery mode
  • Always use the latest version of the package

Package delivery mode allows you to select 3 available options : None, Minimal and Full (both user publishing and global publishing can be selected).
Below you will find a screenshot of how the package delivery option looks like :

Package Delivery Mode Small

When you select None, WM will not add and publish the package and you can use another delivery method like App-V Scheduler or the App-V native infrastructure for example to take care of the deployment. This option still makes use of the App-V 5 integration options in WM like the version variable (to detect the latest package version) and inject\capture user settings.

When you select Minimal, WM will add and publish the App-V package when the user clicks on the application for the first time and will show the following message to the user  :

Prepared Message

WM will add the package without using the mount option, so the package will be streamed just like how it’s configured during sequencing.
After the package is added and published the following message is displayed :

Finished Message

After the user clicks yes the application is launched, depending on the streaming settings of the package you may see the App-V progress bar notifying the application is getting streamed :

Loading2
When you select Full, the exact same process happens as with the minimal option, but the difference is the package gets 100% loaded (mounted in the background) when the application is launched.

The Always use the latest version of the package option will instruct WM to scan the .appv files in the folder of the package (and up to 2 subfolders below in the package folder), if WM finds a newer version of the package it will try to deploy it and will show the following message to the user :

Update Message

This update process also happens in the user context when the user clicks on the application.

In my opinion global publishing makes more sense in combination with UEM tools, because then you can manage the application the same way as they where installed natively (access and control etc) and you don’t have to publish the package for every user making it faster and less entries in the user registry.

Conclusion
I don’t know any UEM products that has such deep integration with App-V 5 as RES Workspace Manager, RES was one of the first to integrate with App-V 5 and with the extended integration in SR2 there is now also a very easy way to (optionally) add and publish a package. But one can ask itself if the user context is the right level to deploy the packages for their environment as it can take a while for the application to become available and it can cause numerous messages to your users that just want to launch the application as quickly as possible. Also it can be difficult to make use of new extension points in App-V 5 (like shell extensions and browser plugins) because the package isn’t deployed initially before it’s started for the first time.

How does this feature compare with App-V Scheduler
Because WM uses a just in time deploy method that runs in the user context and App-V Scheduler deploys directly when the machine boots and based on a configurable timer or centrally controlled by App-V Scheduler Central View they cannot be really compared with each other. Also the WM App-V 5 deployment option is only available in the silver\gold editions of Workspace Manager where App-V Scheduler is available in a free community edition and can also be used with other UEM tools or even without UEM tools as well. App-V Scheduler also addresses the following challenges which are out of the scope of the RES WM deployment option :

  • Cache management for non-persistent use cases (PVS\MCS)
  • Cache management for persistent use cases (automatic clean-up of older package versions to control cache size and remedation of applications)
  • Instant application access by adding and selectively mounting packages at machine start-up (to append to non-persistent images for example)
  • Support for connection groups
  • Support for deployment configuration files
  • Real-time central management of App-V 5 packages, connection groups and virtual processes on multiple machines
  • And more… Click here to read more about the App-V Scheduler features

Just like App-V Scheduler, this new WM feature reduces complexity (less scripting etc) and more granular control compared to other deployment options, but depending on your scenario keep above points in mind when deploying and managing App-V 5 applications.

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