Citrix App Layering (Unidesk) – When it Works & When it May Not Work for You.

Citrix released Citrix App Layering last week. The Citrix solution layers applications, and optionally the OS, to Citrix desktops and XenApp servers. We’d encourage every Citrix customer that has access to the solution to try it, after all most features are included in the Citrix stack while some advanced features are reserved for Citrix Platinum customers. Ever since the recent introduction of Citrix AppDisk, Citrix customers seemed to have longed for something more capable so it’s good news to customers now that they have another method of layering in their stack to try in the form of Citrix App Layering. When layering works correctly the image management and application delivery benefits of layering can be tremendous.

We recently stood Citrix App Layering up in our labs and found that not a lot has changed since it was sold under the Unidesk name. Citrix App Layering offers two methods for layering applications, one that delivers applications with the OS (formerly known as Unidesk Core), another which sometimes offers the ability to deliver the application as a VHD layer to an existing image – known as an “Elastic Layer.”  Per the management console, not every application is ideal to be delivered as an Elastic layer and you may be warned that applications may not work as an Elastic layer – this was our experience with NotePad++ with Citrix App Layering. You must first go through a rather lengthy packaging process that is the same for both delivery types, only then will you be told whether or not the application is apt to work as an elastic layer (see first video link below).

Just like when VMware released App Volumes, we encourage every Citrix customer to try their new App Layering that may be included in your current license. We’d also like to kindly remind you that when you run into areas where Citrix App Layering does not work for you, we’d encourage you to compare Citrix App Layering to the Citrix Ready Verified solution from us – Liquidware Labs FlexApp. Here are some of the reasons you’ll want to compare the two. If….

  • You may need a faster packaging process. FlexApp is about 10 times faster to package applications. See first video link below.
  • You need a streamlined way to update packaged applications. FlexApp is also about 10 times faster to update applications.
  • You need a solution that works with PVS and MCS seamlessly without the complexities of layering the OS. FlexApp layers are truly flexible and independent, Liquidware was the first with “elastic-like” layering. There is no need to change the way you manage your base images with FlexApp.
  • You need a solution that allows you to go to the Cloud at your own pace, with a management console that can be on-premises or in the cloud. FlexApp has you covered.
  • You need a solution that allows you to truly package once, independent of the OS or Hypervisor version. FlexApp allows you to package once and then most apps will work across Windows 7, 10, Server 2012, and Server 2016.
  • You need a solution that is not tied to your desktop/broker licenses and will work across any connected Windows desktop. FlexApp has you covered.
  • You need a solution that keeps storage to a minimum. FlexApp layers are about 90% smaller (without compression).
  • You need to be able to entitle your layered applications to users quickly. FlexApp entitlement takes less than 2 minutes! Contrast that with a 22 minute process for the same app. See second video link below.
  • You need a solution that has integrated but optional User Environment Management (ProfileUnity) options including entitlement based on context aware groups beyond Microsoft AD.
  • You need a integrated Layering and UEM solution like ProfileUnity that has optional built in Application Rights Management and Privilege Elevation.
  • You don’t want to couple your app layering to OS layering for complex applications such as those with drivers and services. FlexApp is capable of delivering apps with drivers and services while remaining independent of specific OS and hypervisor based images/layers.

Options are Good!
Citrix customers benefit when there are clear options. Options in the market keep Liquidware Labs, Citrix, and VMware on their toes and customers benefit with continued improvement in features and design. That’s why the Citrix Ready program is so great. If you need alternative solutions like monitoring, UEM, application delivery, printer management, etc., there are many Citrix Ready partners to choose from that can meet your organization’s needs while remaining in the Citrix ecosystem.

FlexApp will continue to Push the Envelope
In addition to these advantages we have a new release with even more features for any well connected Windows desktop and we’ll also offer enhanced support for XenApp around the corner in FlexApp v6.7. Be on the lookout for that about the time of Citrix Synergy next month.

You might say that you don’t have time to compare the two? Don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work for you with the following two videos.
1) Watch this video of Citrix App Layering/Unidesk compared directly to Liquidware Labs FlexApp when packaging a simple app like Notepad++.

2) Watch this video comparing the process of entitling an application to a group of users.

These videos detail the differences that I have outlined above.

Summary
We encourage you to try Citrix App Layering but just like any of the included Citrix tools, keep your options open and know there are clear Citrix Ready alternatives in the market if it does not work for your organization’s needs. If you are not already a FlexApp customer, you can download and try the solution here. See you at Citrix Synergy in May!

One thought on “Citrix App Layering (Unidesk) – When it Works & When it May Not Work for You.

  1. Pingback: Citrix App Layering (Unidesk) – When it Works & When it May Not Work for You

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