Was posed a typical problem a few weeks back. There was an application in our customers business that was updated quite frequently and the application required these updates to launch. The problem was, the users were using the application through a terminal server on Thin Clients and XenApp published applications. The application needed the users to be local administrators on the server in order to complete the update. In this instance the application was a custom application from Sara Lee for transferring files, not much use for anyone else as an application… but the principal and application of ThinApp is widespread to many apps that have this issue.
Solution: The ThinApp sandbox. Packaging the applications and linking the dependencies via AppLink, we were able to deploy the application fully isolated from the terminal server. This allowed the application to use the sandbox location (the users profile in this instance) to install and run the updates therefore bypassing the security need. The application was able to update and run as normal as a ThinApp.
The deeper I dive with application virtualization and delivery, the more uses (and less problems) I find. Now if only EVERY application was isolated and virtualized that would be an admins dream. 1 more down… looking forward to the next challenge.
First off, I love a good application virtualization challenge. This one provided exactly that, there was a lot of packaging, repackaging, adjusting and comparing along the way but in the end we ended up with a virtualized application that performed fast and 100% of the time.
The use case: Our customer needed a way to deliver the Nexterna Clearview Client to users with Internet Explorer 6 as the compatible browser. Due to a recent SharePoint 2010 project, the Citrix servers needed to be Internet Explorer 7 or 8. Easy answer, virtualize IE6 with ThinApp and run it side by side on the same server with IE8. Utilize ThinDirect to send all users accessing the Clearview web application and associated client install to the virtualized IE6 and leave all other traffic for IE8 to provide.
The application must run on a 32bit W2K3 operating sytem and SOAP 3.0 and MDAC 2.8 are dependencies. We started off packaging the application on a clean XP virtual machine. Success! (or so we thought) The application built and ran when performing testing in the Dirty, Washed and Clean (see @ThinAppGuru Travis Sales ThinApp Methodology) states. When moved over to the Windows 2003 server we found that the ActiveX controls failed to load properly and Clearview uses ActiveX controls for all of it’s operations besides the main menu. To clarify, the ActiveX controls seemed to load but they failed to display, no errors.
So we dug in, and by we I mean we. We started examining the package and ensuring all the DLLs and OCX files were picked up and registered correctly by the packager. Everything looked good. Still worked on the XP machine (even on the Clean snapshot) so we were confidant that everything on the XP build was being packaged properly.
After working for several hours with Travis Sales at VMWare and trying several different sandbox configurations, browser settings, etc… we decided to try a different packaging environment. Went with a W2K3 SP2 build. Again, the packaging process went off without a hitch. However, this time it worked on all platforms and we finally had a successful ThinApp package.
After doing using Beyond Compare to compare the XP capture vs. the W2K3 capture we noticed several small differences that could not be explained away easily. Several CLSID objects in the HKLM registry directly related to the OCX files that did not appear in the XP package and a few different file sizes of core DLLs that could explain the difference in operation. The general thought is that the Nexterna Clearview Client is at some level OS aware of what environment it is being installed to and the installer leaves out critical files/registry entries needed for server operation of the virtualized environment when being packaged in a XP environment. We are still pursuing the loose ends but it was a good case of how utilizing a good packaging methodology can help isolate unknowns and allow you to make assumptions and test those assumptions while moving towards a successful ThinApp package.
Til the next app…
Something a co-worker asked me made me think about a way to store, backup and deliver ThinApp applications over the web from anywhere with as little jumping through hoops as possible. While this is by no means a go-to market solution (VMWare View using PCOIP would be much better suited for that) or even a complete thought I was thinking what if we uploaded ThinApp applications to a SharePoint 2010 document library? How would they be accessed? Could we use it as the file share for our View/XenApp repository? What benefits would it provide?
So I gave it a shot. The answer is still being tested but the initial results seem promising. By using the UNC path ability of a SharePoint doc library you can point View/XenApp to this repository by utilizing \sharepointaddress.domainname.comsitedoclibraryaddress”, you can also do this from anywhere on your network (as UNC implies) and over the internet if your SharePoint 2010 solution is internet facing to access the ThinApp applications from anywhere (given the right credentials of course).
But this also had some decent side effects, you could use the power of the SharePoint document library to add descriptive data to each ThinApp application. Such as last modified date, who packaged it, who owns it, license information, notes on the packaege, supported operating systems, etc… Users could download the packages themselves from the library (again, credentials) and run them locally if desired. You could configure alerts, workflows, all that fancy management stuff that makes SharePoint a great business tool to help IT manage the packaged applications.
Then there is the backups, a few lines in a scheduled PowerShell script and you have complete backups of your entire SharePoint farm including content in doc libraries. Making backup management and restoring simple and more reliable.
Leave your thoughts below if you can come up with any more uses… more to come.
A Technical Briefing + Networking Bash brought to you by eGroup:
“Implementing VMware ThinApp & View 4.5: Strategies for Success!”
Thursday, November 11th, 2010
4:00 – 7:00 P.M.
Charleston Harbor Resort + Marina
20 Patriots Point Road
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
4:00 P.M. – 5:30 P.M. (Atlantic Ballroom): Technical Briefing, Will Turbeville, eGroup
5:30 – 7:00 P.M. (Sunrise Terrace): Networking Bash w/ access to industry experts from eGroup, VMware, Cisco, and EMC at your fingertips! Join us for drinks and appetizers overlooking the beautiful Charleston Harbor.
• Learn how to overcome Windows 7 migration challenges and ensure application compatibility of your mission critical desktop applications
• Learn how to Virtualize your desktop applications with VMware ThinApp to build in compatibility
• Learn how to Virtualize your desktops with VMware View for centralized management of your user environment
• Learn how you can ensure delivery of the best user experience with VMware View PCoIP
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!
Today is the day!
eGroup is at the Charlotte VMUG on the CPCC West Campus and ready for a different kind of VMUG.
eGroup, with the help of Wyse, has delivered twenty WYSE Thin Client devices powered with VMware View 4.5 running on the Cisco UCS B-Series Blade System sitting in the center of the room.
The Cisco UCS B-Series Blade System is delivering VMware View 4.5 Desktops running Windows 7 Enterprise (and a few Windows XP machines for those still loving the XP days) provisioned to deliver ThinApp’ed Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft Office 2007, Adobe Reader, FileZilla FTP Client and Internet Explorer 6 (running on Windows 7) using ThinApp v4.6.
Even with the limited Internet bandwidth the Windows 7 View 4.5 machines running on View 4.5 were streaming ESPN3 live video smoothly of the Miami vs. Pittsburgh Football Game last night.
Users will be able to…
* Take a test drive of VMware View 4.5 on one of the WYSE R90L Thin Clients.
* Access VMWare View 4.5 Configuration Portal and see the new features.
* Access the Cisco UCS Manager Configuration and see how it is all connected and works.
* Check out the performance of ThinApp’ed application with ThinApp 4.6.
Read more >>