Application Virtualization is not the most commonly used technology. However there are quite a lot of advantages to using this software over using GPOs or manually installing software.
- Centralized application management – Deploy, update and remove applications from a central location
- Application conflicts – Applications are running in an isolated environment and are therefore not conflicting with other applications installed on the computer.
- Combine dependent applications in a single package – Deploy a single package to multiple clients without having to worry about dependencies.
As with most software there are some alternatives to App-V. Make sure that you know the pros and cons of each before you make your decision.
- VMWare ThinApp – Datasheet
- Citrix XenApp – Resources
- Symantec Endpoint Virtualization Suite – Datasheet
I’ll skip the pros and cons because these will change quite rapidly and you probably already decided on App-V.
App-V consists of a couple of components.
- App-V Management Server – Delivers the sequenced applications on-demand.
- App-V Management System – Consists of the App-V Management Console and the App-V Management Service.
App-V Sequencer – Produces the application package consisting of a couple of files.
- Open Software Description (.osd)
- Sequenced Application File (.sft)
- Icon File (.ico)
- XML Manifest of the Sequence Project (.sprj)
- A MSI file can be included for offline deployments.
- Open Software Description (.osd)
- App-V Streaming Server – In charge of streaming the packages to clients that lack a good connection to the Management Server.
- App-V Client – Is installed on the OS of the end-user and communicates with the Management Server. Manages package streaming into cache and publishing refresh, also stores the user-specific information related to the package.
You can find the hardware and software requirements for all the components here.
App-V Infrastructure models
There are several ways of implementing App-V into your environment depending on your requirements.
The minimalist mode of App-V doesn’t require any infrastructure except for the App-V Sequencer and the App-V Client. The packages can be deployed manually, using group policies or using System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM). This is mostly used for smaller companies, and companies that have a lot of Offline users.
This model is mostly focused on platforms that don’t want to run Management Servers. This means that a SQL database is not needed and the permissions are set through ACLs. The difference with the previous model is that by adding the App-V Streaming Server component the applications can be streamed to low-bandwidth clients like clients in branch offices.
Full Infrastructure Model
By utilizing all components of App-V you gain the full advantage of the technology. You can choose not to install the App-V Streaming Server component if you don’t have clients on low-bandwidth connections. Using the App-V Management Server will add the application shortcuts within the process of deployment, and also enables features like reporting using a SQL database and central management of application licenses.
As the management server is using SQL and IIS we’ll need to make sure that these are setup correctly before we start. This will minimize the possibility of errors during the setup process.
Adding the IIS role to Windows Server 2008:
- Click Start > All Programs > Administrative Tools and select Server Manager
- Right-click the Roles node and click Add Roles
Select the Server Roles page click Next and then click Next again
- Under Application Development select ASP.NET and when prompted, click Add Required Role Services
- Under Security, select Windows Authentication
- In the Management Tools node, select IIS Management Scripts and Tools
- Under IIS 6 Management Compatibility, ensure that both IIS 6 Metabase Compatibility and IIS 6 WMI Compatibility are selected and click Next
- Click Install on the Confirm Installation Selections page
- Click Close to exit the Add Roles Wizard
Now we need to tweak IIS a bit by adding some MIME types needed in App-V.
- Start the IIS Manager
- Select the Default Web Site > SoftGridManagement
- Double-click the MIME Types feature
- On the action panel, click Add
- In the Extension box, type OSD
- In the MIME box, type application/softricity-osd
- Click OK
- Run iisreset to activate the changes
Installing the App-V Management Server
After downloading the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) unpack, mount or burn it.
- Launch the MDOP autorun
- Select Install Management Server 4.5 SP2
- Click Next on the welcome screen
- Check the I accept license terms and conditions and click Next
- Enter you registration information
- Select Custom and click Next
- I recommend to keep the default features and path and click Next
- As my SQL server is not listed, I’ll check the box and enter the server name and port, then click Next
- Normally you would create a database, unless a DBA already created a database for you. Since I’m my own DBA I’ll have App-V create it for me by selecting Create a new database and click Next
- I choose not to enable the Use enhanced security for now. You can enable this later if you want to. Click Next.
- Accept the defaults for the RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) port: 554
- Enter the group name that you want to give administrative access to the App-V Management Console. It will resolve the group and allow you to select a group if multiple results are returned. Click Next.
- Enter the group name that you want to give access to the App-V application packages. It will resolve the group allow you to select a group if multiple results are returned. Click Next.
- Here you can change the default location where the application content will be stored. Accept the default and click Next.
- Click Install to start the installation process.
An installation result will be given and a reboot is requested. After the reboot there are still a couple of tasks to preform.
Share the content folder – The default folder (C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft System Center App Virt Management Server\App Virt Management Server\content) will have to be shared to the clients access to the installation packages.
- Right-click the folder and select Share with > Advanced sharing
- Click Advanced Sharing
- Check Share this folder
- Click the Permissions button and give the Everyone group Full Control
- Click OK, OK, and Close
Set permissions on the content folder – People that need to use the App-V packages need to be able to access them. Therefore the permissions need to be set to allow this.
- Right-click the content folder and select Properties
- Click the Security tab
- Click Edit
- Click Add
- Enter your App-V users group, Domain Users or even Everyone if you want to
- Give the group the Read & Execute, List folder contents and Read permissions
- Click OK twice
Set firewall exceptions – If you have the Windows Firewall running on your App-V server you’ll have to allow clients access to the App-V components
- Start Windows Firewall with Advanced Security
- Select Inbound Rules and click New Rule
- Select Program and click Next
- Click Browse and browse to C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft System Center App Virt Management Server\App Virt Management Server\bin\sghwdsptr.exe then click Open and click Next
- Select Allow the connection and click Next
- Select all options and click Next
- Enter a Name, optionally a Description and click Finish
- Repeat step 2 to 7 for C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft System Center App Virt Management Server\App Virt Management Server\bin\sghwsvr.exe
Now we need to change a couple of App-V settings to make it all work properly.
- Open the Application Virtualization Management Console
- In the Default Content Path, type \\<servername>\content
- Click OK
You can now start the Application Virtualization Management Console.
To make sure that everything is working you can install the App-V client on a workstation and see if the Default Application will stream and run properly.
You can always comment below if you run into any errors.