Application Virtualization and Streaming

I am Gavriella Schuster and I am responsible for the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) within the Windows team.  This week I was fortunate enough to participate in a panel discussion at Interop with my peers at Symantec, Citrix, and VMWare discussing the benefits to be gained and pitfalls to be avoided with application virtualization and streaming.


It was great to have the opportunity to speak with our industry peers about the technology and to get to know each of them better on a more personal level.  The discussion was focused on driving category awareness to the customers.  Application Virtualization is a fairly new concept and many of the customers came just to understand what it is.  By the show of hands in the audience, about 40% of the customers had plans to do some application virtualization within their environments but only three actually had any level of deployment already. 


What was apparent in that session is that our technologies have more similarities than differences  – and the approaches are converging.  I think the panel was a more effective way to highlight the primary uses for application virtualization within an organization and where the customers might find the most benefits of the technology than if we had each given an hour long presentation on our own technologies.  That might be a controversial thing to say – but I think when we each reinforced each others answers it provided a higher level of comfort to our customers that this was not a sales pitch – that it was just a great new technology that solves some of their most common and potentially hairy problems. 


That said, I do think Microsoft Application Virtualization (formerly SoftGrid) stands out from the crowd because it offers a full solution.  Our advantage lies in the breadth of the offering we have available.  As part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack and as part of the System Center family, it offers both the application virtualization, multiple application delivery options inclusive of on-demand delivery via application streaming and a level of integration that makes this experience both seamless to the user and easier for the administrator.  Microsoft Application Virtualization is a clear part of the desktop management story overall within MDOP and it is part of the broader infrastructure optimization solution that Microsoft provides. 


Microsoft Application Virtualization offers customers the potential for complete application isolation from both other applications and from the OS, and then through dynamic suite composition also enables the administrator to configure some intercommunications between applications offering the administrator the best of both worlds.  It also offers multiple delivery methods of which application streaming is a component of that capability.  Administrators can choose to distribute the application via application streaming which provides dynamic, on demand delivery in a fraction of the time that it might take to download or even start, in many cases, a traditional application.  Microsoft Application Virtualization also enables a distributed application delivery model that provides both centralized management and policy control as well as local distribution points to stream the applications to the desktops so that it minimizes the user impact in a distributed or branch office architecture.  In addition to streaming delivery Microsoft Application Virtualization also offers the opportunity for the administrator to wrap the virtual application package within an MSI and pre-cache it onto the desktop.  This enables either standalone delivery or delivery through a traditional software distribution (ESD) system.  For customers that are using System Center Configuration Manager for delivery of their physical applications, Microsoft has also enabled the administrator to replace the Microsoft Application Virtualization server with Config Manager and enabled the same level of management and control to deliver an MSI or deliver the application on demand through streaming to the desktops. 


Many of our Microsoft customers such as Swedish Medical Center, State of Indiana, Clarian Health Partners, BASF and others have realized the value of this technology in their increased agility, enhanced responsiveness to business needs, enhanced user experience and lower cost of ownership in delivering applications.  Microsoft Application Virtualization is delivered as an integral component of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, which delivers dynamic desktop solutions: Microsoft® Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset provides tools that help administrators recover PCs that have become unusable and easily identify root causes of system and network issues; Microsoft Asset Inventory Service, translates software inventory into business intelligence; Microsoft Advanced Group Policy Management, enhances Group Policy through governance and change management tools; and Microsoft System Center Desktop Error Monitoring enables proactive problem management by analyzing and reporting on application and system crashes.


After this experience, I will seek out more opportunities to continue this type of discussion because I think it provides a lot of value to our customers and is more effective at building our credibility with them when we all sit down together in an open, unscripted discussion. 


Gavriella Schuster, senior director, Windows Product Management Group