There has been a number of announcements over the past few weeks in the area of Application Virtualization, most notably VMware’s release of ThinApp. With the ability to wrap an application in a virtualization container and then run that virtualized application as a stand alone executable, virtualization has been taken to the next level.
As I have been talking to enterprises about application virtualization, a base understanding of why this is important is always needed. The simplest example of where application virtualization can be used is when you think of the need to have two different versions of the same application. Image you are a QA tester testing a web based application. Usually, you verify that the web based application works with both IE 7 and IE 6 or now Firefox 2 and Firefox 3. In the past, you had to have two machines (physical or ideally virtualized) with each browser installed since they can’t live together on the same machine. Talk about overhead. With application virtualization, each version of IE gets placed in the virtualized wrapper and becomes a standalone executable. Allowing you to run both apps at the same time on the same machine.
Moving to a more complex example, think about virtualizing most of your core applications across an enterprise. If each application is a stand alone executable, what happens when a user accidentally deletes one of the library files for the application? First off, this wouldn’t happen because they are all placed in the virtualized wrapper. But if it did, all IT has to do is tell the user to download the virtualized app again from a central repository.
The cost savings for IT administrators of the desktop can really start to add up. These include:
- Less disk space requirements since the virtualized application is compressed
- Savings in admin hours just from not having to reboot Windows after an application is installed; virtualized applications don’t require a reboot to install, just copy to the machine and run it (or run it from a USB key).
- The elimination of the re-builds or re-installation of desktops due to user’s accidentally corrupting an application; the self contained virtualized apps can’t be corrupted like a natively installed one.
- A reduction in troubleshooting application conflicts since each application lives in it’s own virtualized world.
When you take each of these areas of time saving and extend this across 20k, 50k, 200k desktops the time savings starts to have huge impact to the efficiency of an Desktop IT organization.
Stay tuned as I get more real world examples…
(Disclosure: I am currently employed as a Global Accounts Solutions Consultant at VMware.)