Microsoft Application Strategy Discussion 2019

I have spent most of my career discussing applications and how to manipulate them. It is safe to say that 2019 has seen some techtonic shifting in the application space.

Microsoft, has surfaced (no pun intended) to mix it up in the application space again. MSIX is a new application installation format with a goal to become the new defacto standard for application packaging baselines.

Its not like MSI is being replaced exactly, its more like a brand-new foundation that will expand the capabilities further now that the demand for cloud and automation initiatives have increased. Like how .NET evolved to expand on the available modules that could be plugged into coding projects, then evolved again towards .NET CORE that allowed for more portable cloud-based capabilities. MSIX feels like a robust way to expand on the “modern Application” concept introduced in early versions of Windows 10, with a goal of becoming very cloud like alongside Azure and Windows Virtual Desktop initiatives.

What does this mean for platforms like Microsoft App-V?

To be honest application virtualization demand across platforms has taken a hit over the last few years based on some typical customer complaints around management complexity and general compatibility.  That being said, I don’t believe MSIX directly replaces application virtualization platforms like App-V. If anything, MSIX provides a vehicle to manage what you have more efficiently and deploy it to a wider range of platforms. So conceptually from the new MSIX packaging console you would be able to manage and deploy both MSI’s and AppV packages. Microsoft seems to have already provided an MSIX conversion tool for your legacy MSI packages, and I believe the intention is to have the same process for App-V packages, where they will be wrapped in an MSIX format.

In the end, I believe there will always be some need for application virtualization solutions considering some subset of enterprise applications will always cause problems for other applications.

The Application Install Dilemma

SCCM and MSI/MSIX will continue to be the standard for the foreseeable future. However, Application installs have evolved as one of the biggest challenges facing application strategy in 2019. Traditionally, the enterprise powers on the physical or virtual endpoint and the applications are simply installed natively within the operating systems either manually or automated through SCCM. This is often done in the background while the user is working. This works great for ON PREM environments considering you can mostly guarantee bandwidth and resources required to perform the install tasks, without interfering with user experience. Considering that cloud workloads share all resources and accrue charges for as long as they are powered on, the above model might not be manageable long term. Some enterprise customers might be fine with paying for an “Always ON” model, but other customers are already starting to balk at the costs that add up quickly.

It is important to note that MSIX is committed to becoming a new standard but this assumes that application vendors will support it from now forward for it to become successful. Safe to say that the need for application management will never go away and that Microsoft is throwing its weight around again looking to lead the charge on strategy.

The Clock is running….

So the time to update these cloud endpoints quickly becomes a challenge based on how long it takes to update them for both normal image and application updates.  User experience takes a hit as the log on and performance of the cloud endpoint bogs down. The natural enterprise move is to bump up the hardware tier of the cloud endpoint, which is often more money and less resources to share / less density etc. Also, it might not exactly fix the problem. Things can quickly spiral out of control depending upon how many applications you want to use in the cloud.

Application Containers can help

Application Layering has been around a few years and is gaining momentum as a viable solution alongside traditional application strategies. At its core, application layering simply redirects the native application installs to a virtual disk (VHD / VHDX). Then the application containers are simply attached like puzzle pieces to the corresponding host operating system.

FlexApp Layering for example, by design, leverages a filter driver that interacts with the corresponding host operating system, such that it looks and feels like it is natively installed when it is simply an attached VHD. Administrators can provision the new WVD instances and FlexApp Layers could simply be attached like puzzle pieces during the boot process, user login or post login Click to Layer model. This FlexApp deployment workflow works across, physical, virtual and now cloud based endpoints seamlessly.

By eliminating the native installs of the applications needed by users, overall management complexity of the WVD environment is drastically reduced, while maintaining the optimal user experience.

The current plan is to also support and integrate with MSIX early on in a few different ways. The ability to support the ability for the new MSIX console to manipulate FlexApp Layers is key option. Additionally, the Liquidware developers have found a way to potentially support and manage MSIX packages from both the ProfileUnity and FlexApp management consoles. This kind of flexibility will be critical for enterprise administrators’ long term.

Managing applications within WVD

As stated earlier, enterprises can absolutely manage both on prem and cloud application workloads through traditional platforms like SCCM. It will ultimately come down to costs and logistics and how both of those effect overall user experience within the new WVD environments.

Liquidware is innovating towards a more flexible model moving forward.  NEW FlexApp Layering features like caching, cloud storage support, and packaging console API’s are geared towards this new workflow alongside platforms like Microsoft Azure and WVD. Additionally, Liquidware developers are building features like packaging automation and application store fronts that will ultimately provide greater flexibility for both users and administrators.

Liquidware is very focused on providing both FlexApp and ProfileUnity support for the new Microsoft WVD platform.  Additionally, Liquidware is excited to support the FSlogix workflows with both ProfileUnity and FlexApp. We recently released a new video showcasing this new functionality as a reference point. A fully functioning download of FlexApp is available if you are not yet a customer.  

For additional information please visit www. Liquidware.com

All About Microsoft WVD – Availability, History, Keys for Success, Cost Calculator

Microsoft WVD (Windows Virtual Desktop) has set the Microsoft Windows world on its ear! Everyone is interested to learn more about Microsoft’s forthcoming Azure-hosted virtual desktop that promises to be more turnkey then any solution we’ve seen to date.

Microsoft’s public preview is currently underway, allowing your organization to kick the tires of one of the most anticipated desktop delivery platforms ever launched. Liquidware is a chosen inaugural partner of the Microsoft WVD partner ecosystem. As a Microsoft partner of WVD we’ve been aware of the development and the solution for the past two years.

Liquidware recently delivered a well-attended webinar about Microsoft WVD where wef fieldeddozens of questions. We know first-hand that the community has a ton of interest and even more questions.  For instance, many people want to know what version of Microsoft Windows or M365 they need to be on to qualify for WVD (i.e. E3, E5, F1). While some even are curious to know if they only need to have Microsoft Office to qualify. Others are hungry to learn about Azure compute costs, wanting to know how much should they budget. With this in mind, we’ve created this new unofficial Introduction to

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Excerpt Graphic: Microsoft WVD, How Did we Get Here? 

Microsoft WVD Whitepaper that includes what we know about availability timing, the history of how and why Microsoft created WVD, key complementing solutions for success and even an online cost calculator that gives your organization an idea of the estimated cost of WVD. You’ll only find this information in one place right now, straight from Liquidware.

We’ve Lived It!
The staff at Liquidware who contributed to this paper have been in the industry since the early 90s. Many worked or partnered with Citrix and Microsoft as far back as Citrix’s earliest technology including MultiWin and WinView. We’ve lived the history and seen the evolution of Windows desktops first-hand. We’re not usually shy about tooting our own horn but we find ourselves ideally equipped in the industry to offer you a unique perspective and honest answers about Microsoft WVD.

Download the whitepaper now. You’ll find a link to the online cost estimator in the paper. After you give it a read, let us know what you think by posting your comments below.

More about Liquidware and Microsoft WVD
Liquidware’s FlexApp Application Layering solution is a natural fit to make it easier to deploy applications to non-persistent desktops while keeping the number of base images to a minimum. Additionally, our ProfileUnity User Environment Management solution extends the functionality of Microsoft FSLogix to add cross-OS compatibility and fast backup and restore of profile containers as well as centralized policy management with context awareness. Our Stratusphere UX monitoring and diagnostics solution is also a perfect fit by enabling assessment and user experience metrics that help you grow and scale WVD deployments.

Process Optimization with Stratusphere UX

Six months ago we added Process Optimization to the Stratusphere Connector ID Key (CID Key). With the upcoming release of Stratusphere UX 6.1.3, we’ve added some important enhancements to the feature. For those not familiar, Process Optimization helps minimize the effects of poorly performing applications and processes by prioritizing the CPU resources available to those that are in-focus by the end user. In short, this set-it-and-forget-it Stratusphere UX feature provides a user experience safety net. A safety net to ensure in-focus applications get the resources they need, but also to guard against unplanned-for background processes (and memory—more on that in a bit) causing a negative effect on user performance.

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Provisioning Microsoft Teams the FlexApp way

To continue our Microsoft 365 blog series, today we will be focusing on Microsoft Teams and how Liquidware can help businesses manage and deploy it.

For those that don’t know, Teams has been developed as the successor to Skype for Business and Microsoft’s answer to group-chat applications such as Slack. Unsurprisingly, Teams has seen a massive uptake within businesses and there has been significant push on developing new features as quickly as possible (Microsoft have taken the approach of basing Teams on Electron).

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FlexApp Integration with Amazon AppStream 2.0

At the end of 2018, the Amazon AppStream 2.0 team released a new dynamic application framework feature that allows third party tools to help manage application entitlements and deliveries in real time. Liquidware is excited to announce that both ProfileUnity … Continue reading

Deploying Stratusphere UX Connector ID Key with Intune

As part of a series of posts, we’ll be exploring how Microsoft 365 and Liquidware’s Adaptive Workspace Management suite can complement each other and provide businesses with more productive and secure end users.

Microsoft 365 provides administrators with some great modern tools in order to manage and analyse their end user estate, such as Azure Active Directory, Windows Information Protection and MyAnalytics. Stratusphere UX is able to extend this toolset by providing user experience (UX) reporting and allowing for device assessment. This enables administrators to determine which users are best suited to take on new Microsoft 365 services such as Windows Virtual Desktop and get the most out of your Microsoft licensing.

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FlexApp and PVS: A Winning Combination

In my last blog, (please read this first as it goes into the actual architecture of FlexApp and how it’s different) I said I’d talk about a specific example of why you cannot simply say ‘all layering is the same’.  In that write up, I pointed out a number of differences architecturally, but I really want to bring this home and show how these differences matter.  My example is with Citrix Provisioning and how Citrix App Layering and FlexApp interact with it. Continue reading

FlexApp Is Different Than Other Layering Products…Very Different

I was chatting with a customer the other day about FlexApp and they told me that “it’s a different kind of layering and I like it” – it’s not the first time I’ve heard that. This got me thinking ‘why are FlexApp customers having an all-around better experience when compared to other layering technologies. When I look at public forums like Twitter, user groups, forums, etc the overwhelming opinion appears to be that all layering products are essentially the same and if an application won’t work in one, it won’t work in any others. I feel your pain and I just want you to know “Not all layering products are the same.” While Citrix App Layering (CAL), VMware App Volumes and FlexApp share the “layering” moniker, FlexApp couldn’t be more different from the competition (see 9 things that FlexApp does that no one else can or does). It’s these differences that allow us to package applications that others cannot, deliver those FlexApps to the appropriate end point or user and do this in an extremely efficient manner very, very quickly. Continue reading

Special Guest Blog: A Journey with Stratusphere UX

I’m excited to share this contributed post as it’s a topic and message I believe is quite important. In this new edition, end-user computing expert Peter von Oven writes of the user onboarding process and taking a user-centric approach to the transformation journey.

I love the approach of Putting User Experience at the Center of the Workspace. It’s an approach that is near and dear to Liquidware; and a core tenant of how Stratusphere UX has been designed. Peter’s book is focused predominantly on practical and actionable methods to best manage the user lifecycle of VDI atop the VMware platform, but the overall message is relevant for all user transformations—physical, virtual or cloud-delivered.

Look for it now at Packt Publishing and very soon on Amazon. Congrats Peter. –Kevin

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Special Guest Blog: Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) with Azure: User and Workspace Management from Liquidware Webinar – by Symon Perriman

SymonSpecial Guest Blog
Author: Symon Perriman
(Symon@SymonPerriman.com, Twitter @SymonPerriman)

Desktop virtualization (or “VDI”) has become commonplace for organizations which need to offload processing from their end user devices to managed desktops due to performance or security needs.  Over the past decade, millions of these temporary virtual machines (VMs) have been created and destroyed by enterprises for their remote site workers, task workers, power users, or those operating in regulated industries with strict compliance needs.

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