Applications Suitable for Virtualizing in Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V)
~ Chuck Timon
A question often asked by customers is “What types of applications are suitable for virtualizing using Microsoft’s Application Virtualization (App-V) solution?” Occasionally it’s more specific where the question is “Does Microsoft publish a ‘white-list’ of applications that can be virtualized using App-V?”
When I first started supporting App-V and I had customers ask me these questions, they seemed on the surface to be perfectly reasonable, however finding the answers proved to be elusive and in the end I found that there were no definitive answers. What I soon learned is that Microsoft provides information about ‘types’ of applications that may not be suitable for virtualizing using App-V. There is no ‘white-list’ of ‘approved’ applications. And thinking more about it, this makes perfect sense. Obviously there is no way to test every possible application, and providing such a list would imply that if a vendor’s application is absent from the list then that application is not suitable for virtualizing using App-V.
I recently brought this topic to the App-V product team and after some discussion it was clear that if the product team were to dedicate development cycles to testing and verifying all third party applications then there would be no time for anything else. Ultimately the answer lies with the application vendor and individual testing of application packages before deploying them. In the end, while it may be hard to hear, there are applications that are just not suitable for virtualization.
Let’s quickly examine a Microsoft specific scenario. One of the more popular applications customers like to virtualize using App-V is Office (Office 2007, Office 2010 and Office 2013). Knowing that, the App-V team, in cooperation with the Office team, provides public facing content on how to best deploy Office using App-V. Many knowledge base (KB) articles and Microsoft blogs provide information about supported procedures and processes for virtualizing the various versions of Office using the latest and even older versions of App-V. Additionally, many Microsoft MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) provide similar types of public-facing information. Besides the information available on Microsoft’s public sites, time saving solutions like package accelerators are also available. Even some third party application vendors provide similar solutions for their products thus making it easier to package and publish applications in App-V.
So in the absence of a coveted white-list of applications, what other information is available? It is common practice for Microsoft to publish a series of guides for new versions of its Application Virtualization solution and each series contains a Sequencing Guide. In this Sequencing Guide, Microsoft provides a list of best practices, defines the application types and outlines some sequencing limitations to be aware of. Here is an example of a table of Application Types from the App-V 5.0 Sequencing Guide.
The sequencing limitations section in the guide starts out by stating that “Sometimes there are applications that cannot or should not be sequenced.” Here is an example of a table of Sequencing Limitations from the same App-V 5.0 Sequencing Guide:
Looking over the table, I am sure many of you recognize applications that meet the descriptions provided. At the same time, for those that are not familiar with this information, the light bulb may have just popped on and now you realize that all your efforts trying to virtualize a particular application was a waste of time.
There is a Microsoft TechNet forum called the App-V Sequencing Recipes Forum (http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/prescriptiveguidance/threads?outputAs=rss&filter=alltypes) where you can find assistance with sequencing applications. As with all forums, the information provided is 'as is' and your experience may vary. Then there will be those of you who have searched your hearts out and found some little ‘golden nuggets’ out on the internet where users have posted recipes for sequencing some of the tougher applications in ways that can only be described as open-heart surgery. Since we have not tested these recipes, it goes without saying that Microsoft does not support those types of strategies. Speaking of support, our support policy with respect to third party applications and App-V is documented in the following Knowledge Base article:
KB940730 - Support policy for third-party applications that run in an App-V (SoftGrid) environment (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/940730)
I hoped this information has been helpful. Thanks, and come back again soon.
Chuck Timon | Senior Support Escalation Engineer | Microsoft GBS Management and Security Division
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