CEO of Adaptiva, Deepak Kumar, and I had a lovely chat about application virtualization and streaming, how it can improve the efficiency of organizations, and how Microsoft's App-V and System Center can help organizations. Kumar went on to point out a few issues with Microsoft's approach and what his company is doing to help.
What is application virtualization and streaming?
There are many approaches to offering computing services to mobile staff today. One approach is providing everyone with their own laptop, their own portfolio of applications and making them become their own system manager, security manager and operations manager. Although that is still a very reasonable approach for mobile staff who have strong computing skills, another approach, application streaming, might seem better fit to the needs of mobile staff who see computers as a necessary evil.
Application virtualization and streaming is based upon the concept of encapsulating an application so that it can be executed in a virtual environment. Application virtualization has many capabilities, but for this conversation, we focused only on how an encapsulated application can be delivered in whole or in part to a remote PC or Laptop. Application virtualization has other useful characteristics that were not the topic of this conversation.
Typically, the application or components are streamed from a central server. Either the entire application or only the parts of the application required by the user are installed for immediate use. As additional capabilities of the application are requested, additional application components are streamed on demand. When the user has finished with the application and chooses to do so, all components can be completely removed — as if the application was never there. This, Kumar pointed out, is how Microsoft's App-V combined with Microsoft's System Center functions.
Challenges to this approach
The obvious challenge is that this approach typically requires additional network bandwidth so that the streaming of applications or their components won't negatively impact other uses of the network. The approach is also likely to require a separate system to manage streaming operations and storage for the encapsulated applications.
What is Adaptiva doing to help?
Kumar said that his company has solved all of these problems by developing network virtualization tools to better use the available network bandwidth and creating a virtual SAN so that the clients can, themselves, manage the encapsulated applications using available unused storage space. He went on to talk about how his company's Adaptiva OneSite, Client Health and Green Planet can help Microsoft's System Center manage these environments.
So, encapsulated applications can migrate out to distributed sites using "harvested capacity" and not have a negative impact on other uses of the network. The application capsules can be stored on the remote clients' own unused storage. Applications can be stored in multiple places to improve levels of performance and availability, a pretty clever concept that eliminates the need for special management or storage servers.
What Adaptiva has to say about Adaptiva IT Systems Management Software Suite
Here's what Adaptiva has to say about the new release of its IT Systems Management Software Suite:
The suite consists of Adaptiva OneSite, Client Health and Green Planet. Adaptiva OneSite efficiently delivers any content anywhere anytime with no network impact, while Client Health identifies and resolves troubled devices and Green Planet manages PC power consumption without unplugging users. By automating the way these daily operations are conducted, Adaptiva increases IT efficiency and reduces PC energy consumption, a growing concern particularly for organizations where networks are complex and spread out over WANs, and energy costs are high.
The suite offers key customer-driven product enhancements that seamlessly integrate with Microsoft SCCM 2012, including:
- Adaptive Protocol: Content is automatically distributed using harvested network bandwidth, protecting the WAN links and ensuring rapid content replication across global networks.
- Caching File System: Data is cached on client machines using an advanced caching file system which harvests unused storage.
- Enhanced Virtual SAN: Unlimited storage is created in each network location by combining individual client caches. Previous versions of OneSite offered a read-only virtual SAN. Now the Virtual SAN is read/write capable, eliminating the need for a State Migration Point in OSD migrations by utilizing OneSite’s virtual SAN technology. Admins can back up the settings and user data using OneSite’s virtual SAN, and can format and install the operating system. OSDs are no fuss.
- Native P2P App-V Streaming: With App-V streaming, the app is streamed via a server. Since OneSite eliminates the need for server infrastructure, we have created a solution: Native P2P App-V Streaming. Native App-V Streaming leverages OneSite’s Peer-to-Peer content delivery without the need for distribution points.
- Business Process Integration: A workflow engine and designer built in, allowing organizations to customize and integrate it within their business processes.
- Full 64-bit Support: A complete 64-bit support for highest possible performance and scale.
Several different suppliers have developed ways to encapsulate an application and then deliver it to staff-members' systems over the network. Suppliers in this category include AppStream, AppZero, Citrix, Microsoft, VMware and a few others.
Microsoft has been offering a sophisticated client-side application virtualization and streaming product, App-V, for quite some time. It has enhanced its System Center to be able to manage this and other types of virtualization technology. Citrix's XenApp also offers application virtualization and streaming as part of Citrix's overall application delivery product portfolio. VMware is offering ThinApp, an app that addresses the same market need.
Adaptiva only focuses on helping Microsoft environments function more effectively. It it clear that what the company is offering could be adapted to help the other application virtualization environments as well. I recommended that the company consider supporting Citrix and VMware environments. Kumar reminded me that his company is doing its best to use its limited resources and will consider supporting other environments only when it sees customer demand.
Adaptiva has creatively addressed some of the more challenging aspects of application streaming. If your organization uses Microsoft's App-V and System Center, it would be wise to learn more about Adaptiva.