Wednesday, August 31, 2016

#VMworld How to Manage Personal Settings with App Volumes & ThinApp with @VirtualStef & @HilkoLantinga

There are many things to consider when managing applications? How do you manage the lifecycle of your apps? How will you deliver the application; offline, virtual or cloud? How many applications are not under your jurisdiction? How big is your shadow IT problem?

AppVolumes enables you to simplify lifecycle management and delivery. With AppVolumes you can build an AppStack which can be a single or multiple applications delivered according to a user’s preset permissions. You can make these AppStacks read only. This allows you to deploy a many-to-one model. Many users sharing a single AppStack.

Grouping is very important when developing your AppStacks. Performance is optimal when you limit yourself to 7-10 applications max within an AppStack although more are supported. It is also important to have a clean environment for creating your initial AppStack so that testing can be done outside the deployed, production environment. This is typically referred to as your Provisioning VM. You create a clean AppStack, attach it to your Provisioning VM and deploy your application. When provisioning, the AppStack is essentially in Read/Write mode. After installing the application you flip it to Read-Only mode and it is essentially ready for deployment.

While you can apply an AppStack dynamically, it is considered a best practice to do it at logon or on reboot so that the introduction of new applications are applied in a control manner. If you plan properly for what information shall reside on a Writable Volume they can be very useful. By default the Writable Volume size may be large but you can easily adjust by following this blog post (

You should use ThinApp with AppVolumes. While AppStacks are a delivery method, ThinApp is a packaging solution. A ThinApp packages redirects any writes to an isolated container that runs in User mode. If multiple Users launch the same ThinApp packages the memory blocks are shared.

VMware User Environment Manager "UEM" allows you to simply the application of user settings and policies to your virtual desktops. Often these settings are stored in multiple locations such as login scripts, GPOs and custom application configuration files. UEM allows you to consolidate all these settings through a single management console.

UEM does not change the way that Windows Folder redirection works but it does give you a simpler way to manage redirection along with a multitude of other user configuration items. As it does use Folder redirection you have to either continue to use it or turn it off and have UEM manage the process?

When the user logs in the Base Profile is loaded and then user specific metadata and then application launch information. This is done in a light touch, just in time way to ensure the login is efficient. When an application closed the application settings are exported (This requires DirectFlex to be enabled). It is a good idea to enable the backup option of UEM so that you can quickly recover from any profile problems.

To transition from Persona you can enable UEM to run the logoff script to collect information but not process it. Once the information is collected you can turn off Persona and configure UEM as you would like. This is covered in this KB article.

To deal with different application requirements, have a single application with different configurations that are applied according to a specific condition. For example an application that requires different language support is a single application with different languages configured that are applied according to a specific configuration in UEM.

Some helpful hints for common scenarios like OST files in Outlook. You can redirect OST files to writable volumes using the UEM configuration. This is a two-step process; one creating and assigning a writable volume and then adjusting the location in UEM under the Outlook application.

You can solve many problems by combining AppVolumes, ThinApp and UEM but careful planning is required. Test and validate each individual solution before combining all the layers.

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