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Application Virtualization: Managing Complex IT Efficiently with Multi-Version Deployment

Is your IT also getting more and more complex? Installing and managing different software from different manufacturers takes a lot of time. But there is a clever alternative: application virtualization.

The underlying principle: Instead of installing the corresponding software on each client as usual, all components of an application are encapsulated in a container – isolated from the operating system. Applications are operated by a data centre or other network location and run on the client in a virtual environment. Each virtual application consists of a complete executable package, including all the necessary settings, components, files, and libraries. The user can use the app as usual, as if it were installed on their own device. This way, even complex structures can be virtualized, and rollouts be prepared.

How can my company benefit from application virtualization? Benefits of Application Virtualization

App management, scalability, and security – the benefits of isolating an application from the underlying operating system are diverse.

The personnel expenses and the workload required for application deployment is reduced because a local installation on the respective client is no longer necessary. New applications are available faster and can be streamed to any device in different places. Updates and patches are facilitated and centralized, which positively effects hardware and maintenance costs.

For example, a Microsoft study revealed that application virtualization is particularly effective for optimizing software management. Customers with Microsoft App-V need 27 % less time for Application Lifecycle Management (ALM). A significant savings potential is in the field of application deployment. With an average of 14 minutes, the time required here is 50 % less when using App-V: Simply download ZIP, unpack, and start the software.

Release planning, i.e. the release of new software versions, is simplified. Likewise, a global rollout of beta or pre-live versions on productive computers – without affecting active versions. This reduces the impact on ongoing operations, downtime, and set-up times. In addition, fallback and rollback concepts require minimal planning, as every user can use each version on one machine. If a version does not work, the old, proven software version can be started immediately.

With App virtualization you can create environments that are flexible and easy to scale. Test costs for new versions are reduced thanks to the possibility of running several containers of the same software with different versions on one computer. Virtualizing applications can also reduce or avoid conflicts between applications.

In terms of security, there are several advantages: Business-critical data and applications are shifted from individual terminal devices to centrally protected computers. This also protects the operating system from malicious or defective software. Thanks to the separation of the application from the operating system, errors only affect the runtime environment. This is also an advantage when upgrading or replacing the operating system: virtualized applications still function. In addition, access to apps can be controlled. For example, it is possible to set an expiry date for virtual applications. This allows you to control how long an application is available to interns or temporary employees. User settings are saved transparently in the respective profile. Combination with Virtual Desktops (VDIs)

Why should I virtualize applications in my company? We have virtual clients (VDIs)! To answer this question, let’s look at the difference: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) allows each client to assign its own virtual machine on a central server.

If I have virtualized my entire desktop PC in the data center using VDI, I can also benefit from app virtualization: Virtual software is part of the virtual clients. The applications are deployed in a container or streamed to the desktop as needed. The rollout or deployment of virtualized software can be validated simply on the master clients – and can thus be shared at any time on productive clones.

There are clear advantages for IT: Application virtualization gives IT control over VDI. The deployment of the applications can be easily adapted to the needs of the users. In addition, app virtualization processes less data, which reduces the demands on the hardware. Even with a combination of physical and virtual desktops, it is worth virtualizing applications to deploy and manage them on both types of desktops. Virtualization of complex CAD Systems: Siemens Tecnomatix Process Simulate

The automotive industry uses software solutions for robot planning and 3D simulation such as Tecnomatix Process Simulate from Siemens. Such a complex expert tool for planning production plants and virtual operations relies heavily on graphic cards, is based on a database and connected with additional 3rd party tools that communicate with the authoring software via API interfaces. There are also release cycles of the manufacturer of just 3 months. Companies with more than 1000 employees, on the other hand, often need weeks and months to plan and prepare a release and can therefore rarely access the current version. As a result, every OEM has a different version of the Tecnomatix software with different additional tools.

This results in the following problem for the suppliers of OEMs: Depending on which customers they work with, different versions of the simulation software are required. A completely separate environment is required for each job. This calls for several clients and is complex and time consuming. Programs like App-V work around this problem because multiple containers can run on one client – each with different versions of the same software. The employee can therefore quickly switch between different versions with just one computer – depending on the customer. Several versions of the CAD software can be used on VDI in parallel operation. Less time and data for installation are required.

The same principle also benefits OEMs when planning releases: application virtualization makes it possible to keep the old, proven version in one container, while the beta version can be tested in another container. Thus, the new software version can be made available to all employees and not just to a few selected testers on an additional client. This speeds up the release process. Meeting Challenges together on the Way to Virtualized Software

So much for the benefits – but what do I have to consider when virtualizing complex software with programs like Microsoft App-V?

In fact, there are also some challenges on the way to virtualized software: Software that has not been implemented out-of-the-box – i.e. is not immediately available after installation without further adaptation of the components – must be prepared for virtualization. Additional tools and macros must be integrated into the virtualized container. At the same time, it must be ensured that they can be updated regardless of the authoring tool. This includes tools that are not virtualized but still need to communicate with the virtualized software.

IT security, company policies, administrative access, and authorizations of the various departments – these topics must be clarified in advance of the virtualization of applications. Another challenge concerns the connection of external suppliers and customers.

At HS Development & Services, we know what is important: Together with you, we develop appropriate measures and concepts for your company. We virtualize and validate the software. In doing so, we identify possible obstacles and help you to overcome them. And the most important thing: We enable IT to operate the software. Together with the employees of the entire company, we develop methods for the optimal and effective use of virtual software. We support users and partners to work with the virtualized software and to maintain authorization concepts.

Do you also want to simplify your IT in the company to react faster and more flexible to business requirements? Contact us and let us pave the way to Digital Manufacturing!


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