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FSLogix Apps Released

It is with great pleasure that I announce the release of FSLogix Apps™.

My co-founders Randy Cook, Jeremy Hurren, Brian Mann and I first conceived of this project (which we labeled “Project OneImage”) late last year. Our premise was simple: we believed that existing methodologies for delivering and deploying Windows applications are based upon outmoded ideas and outdated technology.  We decided that there remains a need for a product that makes it easier for anyone who is responsible for delivering Windows applications to their users. So we developed FSLogix Apps. Whether you are using physical desktops or laptops, Citrix or RDSH, or any flavor of VDI or DaaS, Apps is going to save you time, money and maybe save a stalled project or two.

Apps provides what we at FSLogix call, “Dynamic Application Visibility”, which is policy-based control of when any application is visible to individual users or groups from a single golden image. With Apps, there is no need for  “departmental images” on VDI or silos of Citrix servers based upon application type. Apps can tailor a single image for each user as if they installed only the applications that they need. Apps can do this without having to package or stream the applications. Simply install the applications natively into the image then use FSLogix Apps to control their visibility. Each user “sees” only the applications for which they are licensed. It is as if each user has their own custom image.

If this concept seems simple you might ask yourself why is the competition so complex? Back in the day storage was very expensive. It was so expensive bright minds in the IT field invented a way to deliver the applications to the user at run-time. At the vendor I worked for we called this the “Composite Desktop”. The idea was to start with a golden image that had only a copy of Windows and no applications. At logon time the system determined what applications the user needed and copied (or streamed) the applications down to the storage.

 However, applications that are delivered this way require that either the user has local administrative privileges or that the application doesn’t write to any restricted areas such as HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE or the “Program Files” directory. Unfortunately, many applications do this. Consequently, this required that those applications to either be wrapped in a “bubble”1  or participate in some type of  “privileges elevation” scheme. This is the reason why application virtualization products need sequencing and packaging.

Fast-forward to today and we see that technology advances have made storage relatively inexpensive. Today it is the labor to maintain these images that is expensive, not the disk space that they consume.

Therefore, FSLogix Apps turns this process on its head: Install all of your applications – even applications that conflict or applications that are for different departments – onto a single image.

When a user logs on, FSlogix Apps will determine which applications the user should have access to and *** here is the part we patented*** make it appear to the user as if we de-installed all of the other applications. In other words they won’t know the other applications are present on their system. And it works for all platforms!

Won’t that take up a lot of disk space you ask? Yes and no is the answer. The answer is ‘Yes’ the core image increase in size compared to what it used to be, but ‘No’ due to the fact storage optimizers such as Atlantis and Greenbytes can use their optimization logic to effectively de-duplicate the storage for each user on VDI and Citrix/RDSH. If you are planning a hardware refresh using traditional desktops or laptops then you know that 3 terabyte drives cost under $300US.

But what about applications that conflict with each other? We’ve figured that out as well. Instead of virtualizing the entire application we have technology to just virtualize the conflicting resources. This makes it easy for one user to have access to Office 2010 while another uses 2007. Or, one user has Visio while the other uses just the viewer (and so on). I particularly like the fact that Apps can isolate individual toolbars and add-ins making it simple for one group of Office users to have document management add-ins for Word (or toolbars in Internet Explorer) without forcing the rest of the user base to have them.

Sound interesting? The best part is FSLogix Apps is easy to evaluate. Just fill out the form at http://fslogix.com/request-an-evaluation/. Or, give us a call and we’ll show you how FSLogix Apps saves time, money and effort to get your users the applications they need.

We at FSLogix live by the mantra that anybody can make simple things complicated, but it takes hard work and dedication to make complicated things simple.

Kevin Goodman

September 2013

1  A programming technique that intercepts calls from the application headed for one of these restricted areas and redirects them to an unrestricted location. This “trampolining” or “detouring” as it is called slows the application down as well as increases its size. I presented a session at BriForum 2012 that explains “detouring”: http://www.brianmadden.com/blogs/videos/archive/2012/08/01/briforum-2012-chicago-layers-upon-layers-an-in-depth-exploration-into-the-technical-details-of-how-layering-works.aspx