FlexApp Layers from Liquidware Labs is focused on application life cycle management and delivery. The platform optimizations allow for seamless integration with many different vendor technologies including Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop.
Enterprises constantly test and explore solutions attempting to optimize XenApp published application for scalability, efficiency and the best user experience possible. FlexApp has proven effective in this space, leveraging FlexApp DIA (Departmental Installed Application) Layers. A FlexApp agent handles communication between the corresponding OS and the individual FlexApp Layers through the use of “Filter drivers”. FlexApp Layers can support a wide range of application scenarios including single applications or even an application suite. Additionally, as needed administrators can bundle a series of applications together in a department layer containing numerous required applications. These FlexApp Layers can then be shared across XenApp Servers for a more efficient delivery approach.
Numerous FlexApp Layers can be attached to an individual Citrix XenApp server or provisioned to a Citrix XenDesktop instance. When the users access the XenApp instance or XenDesktop environment they are provided access to all of the corresponding applications within the FlexApp Layers. The goal of FlexApp Layering is to simply augment or improve the user experience within XenApp or XenDesktop while operating behind the scenes.
The FlexApp agent attaches the FlexApp Layers to the host XenApp OS. The filter driver maintains communication between the XenApp host and the corresponding application within the FlexApp Layers. At no point is the XenApp host OS “tattooed” with any software. XenApp interprets the FlexApp Layers as if they were natively installed. It is this tattooing of the host OS that can sometimes lead to complications within a XenApp environment and can cause outages. Ultimately the integration of FlexApp Layering with XenApp leads to a more performant environment, thus leading to a more robust user experience.
After the FlexApp Layers are attached to the XenApp host, applications within the FlexApp Layers can be presented to users as they normally would, maintaining typical application environment experience.
Key Benefits of FlexApp Layering within a XenApp Environment
Reducing the number of golden images
Streamlining the number of core images within the XenApp environment is always of critical focus. One of the many reasons for image sprawl within environments often stems from the very applications natively installed within the XenApp environment. Many of these applications do not play nicely together. As a work around administrators often stand up another XenApp server. The application are baked into the individual images perpetuating the problem of many golden images. Updating individual applications within the various golden images is challenging considering each image has to be managed separately. The image is opened by an administrator, the application is updated and then the image is resealed. FlexApp Layering can reduce the support challenges across images by providing a more efficient application deployment model. FlexApp Layers can be presented to individual users across numerous XenApp golden images. Thus reducing the administrative overhead within the XenApp environment.
Adjusting for Application Conflicts
FlexApp Layers can easily combine with an Application Virtualization solution like Microsoft AppV, when application conflicts are discovered. The two solutions can be combined as part of an overall application strategy
In addition, the Citrix AppDNA tool can be leveraged to pre determine application conflicts as part of the FlexApp Layer creation process. This approach promotes a more refined, efficient application remediation approach.
Shifted responsibility of Application Updates
By shifting the application update responsibility from XenApp to FlexApp a tremendous burden is lifted from the XenApp administrator. This significantly reduces the complexity of maintaining the XenApp server instance without the challenge of application support in the mix. This approach leads to a more self-sufficient application lifecycle in the long run
Server Maintenance workflow enhancements
FlexApp Layers integrated with the XenApp environment provides an opportunity to shift more focus on an optimized server maintenance approach. Essentially the administrator can compartmentalize server maintenance from application updates. Simply shifting or migrating FlexApp Layers to additional servers establishes little to no downtime during the maintenance window.
Faster Application Deployment
ProfileUnity enables centralized User Environment Management for virtual and physical windows desktops and includes advanced FlexApp Layering options. ProfileUnity is the centralized management interface for FlexApp Layering and can easily integrate with all next generation desktop platforms including Citrix XenApp.
FlexApp Layers can accommodate many application scenarios. Many enterprises will require a single application per FlexApp Layer as a common best practice. Where applicable, a FlexApp Layer suite can be leveraged to isolate larger application environmental scenarios. Departmental applications can also be combined to form a more robust FlexApp Layer in an effort to optimize enterprise environments.
Presenting FlexApp Layers to users within the XenApp Environment
Integrating FlexApp Layers with a XenApp environment, is designed to be very intuitive. Once the FlexApp Layers have been attached to the host XenApp environment, the administrator can simply present the corresponding applications within the FlexApp Layers to user sessions using standard best practices. The host XenApp environment thinks that the FlexApp Layers are natively installed just as any normal applications would be. In this case the user simply connects to XenApp as usual, but now the applications they are presented with are in fact FlexApp Layers as opposed to natively installed applications.
FlexApp Layering is designed to integrate with many different vendor platforms as part of an overall enterprise application strategy.