When to Use Both Citrix App Layering and Liquidware FlexApp Attached Applications

Lately we’ve had more and more customers that are discovering that Citrix App Layering and Liquidware FlexApp attached application delivery make a great combination.

Citrix App Layering can be used to manage base images in a Citrix environment. The solution also offers a way to layer applications into the OS. The benefits of layering the OS are great for patching and maintaining base images. However, some customers are finding that they’d like their applications to be delivered on a more dynamic basis, simply attached from a VHD, with fast packaging options, and multi-cloud storage features. Some Citrix customers switch entirely over to FlexApp, a Citrix Ready verified solution, for app delivery while others decide to continue to use Citrix App Layering for specific use cases, such as managing and patching the Windows OS. This is where Liquidware FlexApp complements Citrix App Layering, the two are being used together by a number of customers.

Liquidware has large retail and commercial customers that are running Citrix App Layering and FlexApp attached applications together at scale.

When used together as described above, FlexApp Delivery benefits Citrix App Layering customers with the following:

  • Dynamic application attach capabilities across any well-connected and well-managed Windows desktop, including Citrix, Microsoft WVD, VMware, and physical.
  • FastPackaging™ – FlexApp applications can be packaged in virtually the same amount of time it takes to install the application traditionally, there are no long wait times extraneous to the installation of the application.
  • PackageOnce™ – FlexApp application only need to be packaged one time and then can be delivered across any supporting Windows operating system. e.g. Windows Server 2019 and Windows 10 Multi-Session.
  • Multi-cloud support- FlexApp applications are stored on flexible VHDs that can be saved directly to object based storage on Microsoft Azure, Amazon, or Google clouds.
  • Flexible application attachment options – FlexApp applications can be attached at any of the following four intervals:
    1. At Machine Boot – Useful for delivery many applications to a large group of users
    2. At Login – Useful for delivering applications on a per user or per group basis or by levering over 244 context aware filter options.
    3. On a Click-to-Layer™ basis – Applications that launch on-demand. Useful for publishing applications or infrequently used applications. A faux shortcut is delivered to the user’s desktop, only when they click on the icon does the application actually attach in seconds.
    4. On a Context Aware basis – Only when certain location/context aware criteria are met does an application attach to the desktop.

You can find more information in the Citrix Ready Marketplace. It’s also easy to trial FlexApp by visiting our download page to get started today.

What’s an Ephemeral OS Disk? Why you should use it with Microsoft WVD…

To keep desktops performing their best and with the lowest cost, Microsoft WVD desktops are best managed with a non-persistent (stateless) design. With the GA of WVD, Microsoft has introduced an ephemeral OS disk as an option to deploy VMs on Azure. A VM on an ephemeral disk enables the VM is designed to last for only a short time so it can be refreshed to its original state. This is a little different than non-persistent workspaces from Citrix Desktop (formerly XenDesktop), and VMware as an ephemeral desktop only gets when the administrator opts for it to be reset. In contrast, a Citrix or VMware desktop usually gets destroyed at logoff.

Microsoft WVD can run either an OS like Windows 10 multi-session or a desktop OS such as Windows 7 or 10. Most people seem to be exploring the Windows 10 multi-session option. As this is true multi-session computing, many users may be logged into the Windows 10 multi-session host at any given time. Therefore, you must ensure any host you reset is not in use, lest you interrupt users’ sessions while in production. For this reason, the Windows 10 multi-session host cannot be truly non-persistent and destroyed at logoff. To keep the host clean it can only be reset from time-to-time or ephemeral, lasting for a period of time. Therefore, to invoke best practices, treating Windows 10 multi-session hosts as ephemeral desktops is a vital way to make keep these Windows host machines clean.

An ephemeral OS disk essentially lets you roll back a machine to a known good state. If you do not leverage ephemeral disks for WVD, you must recreate the host for rollbacks, which may be done with other technologies such as image management tools.

There are many benefits touted for the new ephemeral disk usage. However, describing the difference of non-persistent disks and ephemeral disks is mainly splitting hairs because for most intents and purposes because Microsoft WVD should be managed as if it is a non-persistent desktop. What is common to both is that non-persistent or ephemeral desktops are deleted (virtually destroyed) at logoff or at a determined interval. They are recreated (provisioned) from a base image. The newly created desktop is then kept fresh and runs at top performance and does not suffer from the degradation a traditionally managed OS suffers from overtime.

Since WVD machines are managed in this ephemeral way, Microsoft’s FSLogix technology becomes essential to the user experience. FSLogix allows the user to pick up right where they left off when a new WVD VM is recreated because the profile, in its entirety, rejoins the user from a virtual disk on Azure at the next login. To extend and complement this ephemeral desktop design even further, Liquidware is a key Value Added Partner in the WVD ecosystem and delivers the following additional benefits:

  • FlexApp dynamically attaches applications to VMs at every login, enabling applications to be rejoined to WVD VMs without continually manipulating the base image. This dramatically simplifies app management with dynamically attached apps and;
  • Reduces image management overhead by eliminating native application installs
  • Enables you to leverage one base image and assign FlexApp application attachments on a per-user or per-group basis
  • Enables applications to remain persistent in non-persistent (ephemeral) desktops
  • Integrates seamlessly with existing app lifecycle management workflows

ProfileUnity speeds adoption of WVD with seamless zero-downtime user migrations to FSLogix profiles from any legacy Windows workspace platform and;

  • Peforms smart user profile and data harvesting for efficient, repeatable zero user downtime migrations to WVD
  • Automatically hydrates FSLogix profile containers with select user profile data and access to user-authored data
  • Enables backup / fast restoration of FSLogix profiles, complementing FSLogix Cloud Cache
  • Delivers full User Environment Management features such as context-aware advanced policy management, application rights management and more

Discover how Liquidware’s entire Adaptive Workspace Management suite enables easy adoption and management of WVD by visiting this resource page. 

Microsoft Ignite 2019 – Wrap-Up!

What you may have missed…

Microsoft Ignite was in Orlando last week as many have occurred before. This Ignite was different though mainly because there was no way to ignore the major spotlight that Microsoft was shining on Windows desktop delivery. More specifically, Microsoft had many sessions and announcements around Microsoft WVD (Windows Virtual Desktop). More on that later below.

go kart

We co-hosted go-kart racing with IGEL and CloudJumper and were able to accommodate hundreds of registrants. Hundreds of others were waitlisted (our apologies and we’ll plan something even bigger next time). It was a great event.

By our conversations with attendees in The Hub (the show floor), not every desktop architect was there for WVD information. We held discussions with many large enterprise desktop on-prem accounts that are running Citrix and/or VMware desktops. Many had a mixture of Citrix, VMware, cloud and on-prem and were discovering that Liquidware was a perfect fit for workspace management that adapts to the desktop without compromising user productivity. Some of these large Microsoft customers had not even heard of WVD yet and that’s perfectly fine (they will). Microsoft Ignite served as a reality check for Liquidware – with us realizing that many organizations are not in a hurry to change up their on-prem desktop delivery for cloud based desktops. What we did validate was that many organizations want to leverage more and more of the cloud.

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It’s a perfect scenario for customers to leverage Liquidware because our workspace management can effectively perform “Cloud Staging” of user profiles, applications, and metrics of the user experience. In short, customers can leverage Microsoft Azure, Amazon, and/or Google clouds today with their on-prem desktops to seamlessly pave the way for transitions when ready. Our innovative support of cloud and object-based storage for user profiles, data, and apps serves as a pathway to the cloud while modernizing your legacy on-prem deployments today.

Back to Microsoft WVD. There were many sessions but the main one was on the first day of the show. The session was delivered by Scott Manchester, Group Program Manager, Microsoft, it was well attended. Highlights of that session and others included:

  • WVD will expand to more regions by early next year, beyond the Americas and Europe. No matter where you are, you can now deploy WVD but the increased geographies will decrease latency for far hosted regions in the world.
  • Support for Linux thin clients with IGEL, a Liquidware alliance partner.
  • Native Domain Controller (AD) support for Azure File Storage.
  • Microsoft Teams support
  • Improvement with the admin experience is coming soon
  • Enhanced integration with Office 365
  • WVD will be supported on Azure Stack Hub. That means you’ll be able to run WVD on-prem https://azurestack.blog/2019/11/azure-stack-ignite-2019-updates/. The Native WVD Management Plane will continue to only be available on Azure.
  • Preview of MSIX App Attach – and a shout out by Scott (thanks) of working with Liquidware for additional app capabilities with FlexApp

There were tens of thousands in attendance at Microsoft Ignite this year. Wherever you are exploring emerging cloud desktops such as Microsoft WVD, Amazon WorkSpaces or Nutanix XiFrame or you’re looking to leverage more cloud storage to pave the way, Liquidware is the only source for Adaptive Workspace Management that works across all of your desktops. Start your trial today or contact us to let us know how we can assist.