AppStream demonstrated AppStream 5.2, an application streaming (one of the functions in the application virtualization segment of the Kusnetzky Group virtualization model) for me yesterday. I have spoken with company representatives in the past and was having trouble distinguishing their offering from competitors, such as Endeavors Technology, Softricity, LANDesk or even Thinstall. I thought that seeing the product in action would help. The demonstration, unfortunately, looked very much like others I've seen.
Maybe the differences can be found in fundamental thought behind the technology. Here's a quick summary of our discussion on that topic:
- AppStream's primary focus is on management and control. That is allowing administrators to select what applications are available for an individual, automatically install selected applications and keep those applications up to date.
- Application lifecycle management is another focus. AppStream makes it possible for applications to be streamed down to a user's system, updated in place as changes occur or for applications to be removed from a user's system automatically or manually so organizations can reduce their software acquisition costs by optimally deploying software licenses.
- AppStream can encapsulate applications and related data so that it appears local even though it may be primarily found on a server some where.
Although they're using different words, AppStream's message still appears very similar to those of others.
The demonstration is impressive, however. Applications can be made to appear on a person's desktop even though the application really isn't installed on the machine. When the applications icon is clicked, some of the application is brought down to the user's machine. When the user is through with the application it can either remain in a special cache on the user's machine or be deleted depending upon how the administrator set up the account. So far, so good.
What's not clear to me after viewing the product is the limitations of AppStream's approach. Some applications don't appear to mind being encapsulated. Others get offended by this process and simply won't put up with it. Some of AppStream's competitors tell me that their product will work with well over 90% of a user's portfolio of applications and AppStream's product does not work with as many. I don't know whether those statements were merely an attempt to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) or if they're true.
If you're using AppStream, what benefits are you getting? Have you found that some applications don't like AppStream?