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VMware Releases Real-Time App Delivery Product

App Volumes had its genesis in the acquisition of CloudVolumes last August.

VMware wasted no time in integrating its recent purchase of CloudVolumes into Horizon View, its virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution, going from zero to shipping in just over three months.

Now called App Volumes, it provides real-time application delivery for Horizon. VMware announced the acquisition in late August. Harry Labana, VMware's vice president of products, end-user computing, said in a blog posting that it represents "…the fastest integration in VMware End-User Computing (EUC) history." He added that App Volumes will be a free upgrade for Horizon Enterprise customers.

The key to App Volumes is that it delivers applications to VDI desktops through virtual disks, so neither the desktop nor the application requires any modification; essentially, it's just a read-only virtual machine disk (VDMK) slipped into the underlying virtual machine (VM) as an independent stack of applications (or single application). To the end user, they appear as, and perform like, natively-installed applications.

The App Volume VDMK can handle multiple applications at once (called an "AppStack"), although a VMware whitepaper on pp Volumes recommends a per-virtual desktop limit of 15 apps in a stack. The whitepaper also states that the management piece, App Volumes Manager, has been tested with "10,000 active user-to-AppStacks sessions at a time." VMware also recommends limiting using App Volumes with no more than 2,000 concurrent virtual desktops.

App Volumes works at the level above the operating system (OS), in application management containers. Applications, data files, settings, middleware and configurations act as separate, layered containers, according to VMware documentation.

Although they'll most often be in read-only mode, there is an optional Writable Volumes component that operates as a single-user volume. It contains user-centric data that moves with the user. The data includes:

  • Local user profile
  • Application settings
  • Licensing information
  • Configuration files
  • User-installed apps

Writable Volumes differ from AppStacks in that they're not read-only, and aren't shared between VDI devices.

VMware's Labana stated in his blog post that App Volumes reduces VDI storage costs by 30 percent over using "Horizon 6 alone," although he didn't provide supporting data for this claim.

It's worth noting that App Volumes works in more than just Horizon environments; it can be used with Citrix's XenDesktop and XenApp, and Microsoft's Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH). VMware says in an FAQ that it can even be used in physical environments, although it recommends App Volumes for VDI uses, at least initially.

VMware has published a deployment guide for AppVolumes, which was released earlier this week.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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