App-V: Future of application deployment?

App-V allows you to deploy applications to computers so that they run locally, but don’t require a direct local install. App-V sequenced applications run within a special virtualized environment provided by the App-V client. They interact with the operating system using the App-V client as a proxy, but are not directly installed so that they leave gunk throughout the registry.

Another advantage of App-V is that it vastly simplifies application maintenance. Updating an application is a matter of redeploying a resequenced application rather than attempting to deploy the update. This is especially useful with 3rd party applications that are difficult to update unless you are running tools such as Configuration Manager. App-V makes application deployment modular in a way that traditional application deployment does not. Although applications are meant to remove themselves cleanly when uninstalled, many of them don’t – leaving unusual settings and registry keys as evidence of their presence. App-V places a wrapper around the application, allowing it to be added and removed without any direct impact on the host OS.

A common misconception about App-V is that a computer must be joined to the network to use an App-V application. While this is true during deployment, App-V supports offline application use. When you use App-V in this way, the virtualized application data is stored in a special cache for use offline. While it is possible to “stream” App-V applications from a specially configured server, you don’t have to do it this way.  

App-V might represent the future of application deployment because it vastly simplifies the process of updating and maintaining applications. Making applications completely modular removes a lot of the pain of application maintenance. You simply swap updated apps in as needed, rather than attempting to update the application in place.

App-V ships as part of MDOP, which is why a lot of systems administrators that should know about the product don’t. App-V version 5 is currently in beta.

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