Jun 13, 2012 10:25:00 AM
Tips from the Field - Deploying Virtualized Applications using System Center Configuration Manager 2007

My name is Jamie Smith and I’m a Consultant for Certified Security Solutions Secure Infrastructure Management team. I would like to introduce you to the next segment of our ‘Windows 7 Accelerate with System Center’ marketing campaign: Deploying Virtualized Applications using System Center Configuration Manager 2007. If your organization is still running Windows XP then it’s time to take a long hard look at the calendar and look up April 8, 2014, or better yet, have a look here for the countdown. You have less than 22 months to man the Windows 7 lifeboats and evacuate the decommissioning Windows XP. Seeing as where a typical organization takes around 18 months to do a proper migration, that means there is still some time to step away from the panic button and look things over from stem to stern. One of the ways to can help yourself is by taking some of those applications that you really don’t want to install again and virtualize them.

Why would I want to do that? – Benefits of Virtualization

First we’ll nip this in the bud right now. If your organization has Software Assurance on your Microsoft Premier Agreement, then put your wallet away. App-V is included in the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) which is included with Software Assurance. Now that’s out of the way let get down to improving business.

  • Take out Corruption: Virtual Applications run in a sandbox and therefore can’t corrupt the Operating system. If the program gets corrupt, clear out the cache and reload it, much faster than uninstalling and reinstalling.
  • Megalomaniacal Control: Maybe not quite that bad, but IT can control what programs are run on the machine, which users run them, and what version they run.
  • Fewer Headaches for Licensing: Yes, you still need a license to run a virtual application, however, given the level of control it is also easier to count said licenses.

Configuration Manager VS. App-V Full Infrastructure- IN A STEEL CAGE!!

These two heavy hitters alone pack a mean punch in terms of usefulness, but as a tag-team they are all-stars. Starting with R2, Configuration Manager can now manage virtual and physical assets. Simply put, Configuration Manager can tell whether an application is virtual or locally installed. Next, instead of having to build out another infrastructure including an App-V Management Server and Streaming Servers to place at strategic points in your organization, you now have the ability to utilize your SCCM infrastructure. Manage virtual software packages from the SCCM Console, stream applications from your Distribution Points, and utilize the reporting features within SCCM, all in one place. It doesn’t end there either, using Collections you can target users or computers to receive virtual software applications, and even deploy them in Operating System Deployment Task Sequences. When it comes time to upgrade an application, no problem, there’s a Wizard for that. No more having six different versions of the same program (unless of course you want it that way).

All of that being said, not everything is rosy. There are a few drawbacks to integration. First, any shortcuts or file type associations have to be modified in the App-V sequencer. Keep in mind this is only if you want to change them after the program is sequenced. Secondly, there are some limitations on reporting compared to a full App-V infrastructure, for example, you can’t tell how many times a virtual application has been run, but you can tell if it has been used and the last launch date. Finally, running virtual applications through Remote Desktop Services is not recommended by Microsoft. It can be done if the terminal server is targeted instead of the individual users, but can be tricky.

Let’s Get Digital!

Overall App-V integrated with SCCM is a slam dunk. Integration is quick and easy, just click HERE for Part 1 and HERE for Part 2) and check out my how to video on getting everything setup and even deploying a sequenced application. Just for curiosity sake, let’s walk through sequencing an application so you can get a good feel for it:

Sequencing Adobe Reader 10

Click here to walk through the sequencing process.

Watch corresponding videos here:

For more information see the following links:

Certified Security Solutions

1 Best viewed with Microsoft Silverlight

2 Best viewed with a mobile browser that supports HTML5

3 Requires username and password top access (click here to request access)

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