FlexApp Notes from the Field – VMworld 2016 edition

As we approach VMworld 2016, there has been a tremendous amount of excitement building around the solutions from Liquidware Labs. We just released version 6.5.5 of ProfileUnity with FlexApp back in June, here are a few of the highlights:

  • New Windows 10 configuration templates built into ProfileUnity
  • Ability to export the entire configuration module within ProfileUnity
  • Ability to export any configuration module item within ProfileUnity
  • Ability to import ADMX templates directly from Active Directory into ProfileUnity
  • ProfileUnity now has a built in diagnostic tool to help diagnose environmental issues
  • A new File Associations module allows administrators better control within the Windows Desktop and Server OS
  • ProfileDisk VHD now supports group assignments
  • FlexDisk Mirroring now allows for VMDK based layers to be replicated across datastores
  • ProfileUnity now has the ability to support any number of vCenter environments from a single console
  • FlexApp playback capabilities are 30%-50% faster
  • ProfileUnity with FlexDisk now supports an active -active Federated model
  • A new ProfileUnity configuration template has been added for migration of Windows 7 to Amazon Workspaces
  • An updated ProfileUnity Citrix Cloud template is available within the catalog
  • FlexDisk now has the ability to leverage direct to host mode

Liquidware Labs has listened to the field and is building features that partners and customers need.

Over the course of 2016 a number of critical focus points have emerged when speaking with partners and customers while investigating the FlexApp Layering platform. I would like to address some of those points below.

Can FlexApp integrate with platforms like Citrix and VMware Horizon?

Yes. According to partners and customers, one of the primary benefits of ProfileUnity with FlexApp centers around the efficient infrastructure footprint. ProfileUnity with FlexApp provides both a Simple VHD and an Advanced VMDK approach that allows customers the flexibility to adapt across many environmental scenarios. Eliminating the requirement for expensive Microsoft SQL clusters and 3rd party load balancers has become a critical differentiator against similar platforms.

This simplified infrastructure design allows for better integration with existing enterprise platforms like Citrix and VMware Horizon.

Ultimately, ProfileUnity with FlexApp is a cost effective add on for any Citrix or VMware Horizon design.  For example, partners and customers have seen tremendous value when combining VMware Standard or Advanced licensing with the combined power of the ProfileUnity and FlexApp platforms.

 How does FlexApp handle applications that require drivers?

FlexApp captures the files and registry entries during an application install.  In addition, it also actively watches for drivers during the install and how they interact with the host operating system. The driver and the interaction are essentially included as part of the FlexApp Layer creation process. For example, take the installation of a Canon software package, which includes scanner and printer drivers.  The printer was added to the FlexApp Packaging Console (FPC) during the installation of the software.

Once the application capture was complete, the FlexApp Layer can be assigned to a user.  When the user logs into their virtual desktop, the printer shows up under “Devices and Printers” and the Scanner software icon was on the desktop.  The user will be able to select the user/machine from the control panel of the printer and send a scan job to the machine.  The user will also be able to use the scanner software on the desktop to initiate a scan job.

Obviously testing is required for every application packaging scenario, but this is the expected result when attempting to include application drivers within FlexApp Layers.

How many applications can FlexApp attach to endpoints?

Mileage may vary for each customer, but our testing has discovered a sweet spot of around 10 to 15 layers per endpoint. However, that does not appear to be limited to the FlexApp infrastructure but rather around the corresponding application strategy for the customer. We believe that we can push the envelope a bit with respect to the number of FlexApp layers attached to the endpoint. We are currently working on a robust FlexApp Reference Architecture to help with design guidance.

The following BLOG written by Dwayne Lessner, Sr Tech Marketing Engineer with Nutanix, provides a glimpse of the performance expectations within VDI, with respect to FlexApp and other application layering solutions.

One aspect that is critical to this topic, centers around the number of applications included within each application layer. Liquidware Labs continues to focus on the best approach with respect to customer success. FlexApp does provide customers the option to include more than one application per layer.  However, as expected, the best approach continues to be a single application per layer. With respect to role Application Strategy plays within the enterprise, Liquidware Labs is working hard to provide guidance around these best practices as they unfold.

How does FlexApp handle applications that seem to require isolation?

FlexApp Layering and Application Layering solutions in general are not intended to replace Application Virtualization solutions but rather work in parallel. Application Strategy best practices suggest that Application Virtualization solutions will still play some role in the Application Lifecycle Management for the enterprise. What has transpired within the industry of late, is a shift in focus with regards to which approach is a priority. In the past the general consensus was that Application Virtualization solutions could support the vast majority of application scenarios. Unfortunately, this was not the case and organizations struggled to achieve results. FlexApp Layering for example, has a higher success rate by simplifying the communication between the application and the host operating system, while eliminating the native install of the application in the background. The use case for Application Virtualization solutions then shifts to a more manageable percentage of applications within the lifecycle management workflow.

ProfileUnity has the ability to entitle both Microsoft App-V and VMware ThinApp packages as a standard feature. This provides additional enterprise flexibility when incorporating Application Strategies.

How does FlexApp handle application conflicts?

Micro-Isolation is a feature embedded within the FlexApp technology that actively monitors application functions during the runtime process. When a conflict is discovered, Micro-Isolation redirects the application request within its own layer first, as opposed to the host operating system, where conflicts often occur.

That being said, this does not solve all application conflicts. Liquidware Labs is working hard to partner with tools like AppDNA from Citrix for a well-rounded approach to address all application challenges.

How does FlexApp scale within the enterprise?

Again, mileage may vary across different environments with different infrastructure. Working with one of our customers we have established the following baseline with respect to scalability data. At this point we do not believe these numbers represent a top end of the spectrum by any means, but rather a strong real world glimpse of what can be achieved using ProfileUnity and FlexApp

  • 12,000 concurrent seats
  • 45,000 total users
  • 60,000 total users with expected growth
  • Leveraging ProfileUnity to alleviate the stress of UEM
  • Leveraging FlexApp to alleviate the stress of application lifecycle management
  • 4 to 5 FlexApp VHD Layers in production across all users


As we progress through the rest of 2016, look for some exciting “Automation” from both ProfileUnity and FlexApp!!!!

Please come visit Liquidware Labs at VMworld 2016 booth #870

Why not take our software for a spin!!! Download and go for a test drive.

test drive

Don’t forget to check out our “Dare 2 Compare” content as well


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