Xenocode Virtualizes Apps

Virtualization and development tools supplier Xenocode has released a suite of tools for adapting, configuring and delivering Win32- and Java-based applications within a free-standing, virtualized environment on the host Windows OS.

The offering, called Virtual Application Studio (VAS), lets companies do things such as deploy applications without touching the underlying operating system, or run multiple, incompatible versions of an app -- such as Internet Explorer (IE) 6 and IE7 -- on a single PC.

"What the product allows managers to do is eliminate setup," says Xenocode CEO Kenji Obata. "With Virtual Application Studio, you can take your existing .NET, Java, Flash, IE6/IE7 [applications], whatever it may be, and deploy them in single executable files, which run instantly on the end user's desktop."

Selective Virtualization
Unlike traditional virtual PC solutions, such as Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware's solutions, Xenocode VAS runs on top of Windows 2000, Windows XP or Windows Vista and virtualizes only the environment around a single application. Dev shops deliver both the app and its surrounding environment in a single executable, which users simply click to access. It's an approach that Andi Mann, research director for Enterprise Management Associates Inc., believes has a lot of value for IT and development organizations.

"It's a really useful solution to a really significant problem," says Mann, who singles out reduced application testing and easier remote and short-term app deployment scenarios. "It's a form of application virtualization, which we call application isolation. It doesn't interfere with the rest of the operating environment at all."

Obata says many companies are looking at VAS as a way to maintain application compatibility on newer Vista-based clients. By isolating applications, dev shops avoid running afoul of Vista's User Access Control (UAC) prompts.

Potential Issues
The isolation approach does present some challenges, says Mann. For one, software management tools such as LANDesk and Windows SMS may not be able to recognize VAS-deployed applications. And because virtualized apps can exist in their own bubble, with their own self-contained Registry resources and file systems, update and patch engines may fail to properly work with them.

The Xenocode Virtualization Starter Kit costs $499 and includes the Xenocode VAS and five end-user licenses. Additional end-user licenses are $40 per seat, with volume discounts available.

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.