Don’t let App-V 5.0 derail your migration project: A strategic assessment of the impact of App-V 5.0 on your migration project
April 6, 2012 1 Comment
Since the unexpected release of the App-V 5.0 (Beta) by Microsoft on 04 April (see announcement by Karri Alexion-Tiernan), I have not stopped receiving emails from ex-employers where I have worked as Lead Architect on App-V implementations.
The common questions running through the emails are:
- What is the impact of the new product on their migration project?
- When is the product likely to go RTM?
- Is it worth suspending any further work on the current releases of App-V whilst awaiting the RTM of App-V 5.0.
My one answer to the questions has consistently been:
“App-V 5.0 (beta) should not derail your application migration project.”
Over the last couple of days, I have thought through the various questions that I am being asked and also done a strategic analysis of the impact of App-V 5.0 (beta) on inflight Windows 7 / application migration projects and the analysis is presented in a series of questions and answers.
Question: Should we postpone / delay / suspend our App-V roll out?
Answer: It is ok to be concerned about the impact of the new release on your current efforts to virtualise your applications. I agree that this is quite frustrating because the changes in the new product are drastic and there has been a clear lack of visibility in the roadmap for the product.
However, it is only a beta product and an RTM version may not reach the market for up to 12 months, which I believe will be a long wait especially when there are instantly realisable benefits to virtualising some of your applications using App-V.
Furthermore, you would have already assessed products in the market place and chosen App-V 4.x because it met your requirements. In addition, support for App-V 4.6 is not being stopped by Microsoft , so there is no reason to be fretful about an impending loss of product support.
Question: Is there an available roadmap for App-V?
Answer: I have not seen one formally but you can discuss this directly with your customer representative / liaison officer (I have used the wrong titles here) at Microsoft. Product roadmaps are important and Microsoft needs to make this publicly available, similar to the “System Centre Roadmap” published some years ago. I have just looked at various incarnations of the “System Centre Roadmap” again and there is nothing listed in the year 2012 for the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack.
Question: What is the significance of the change in the package format from .SFT to .APPV?
Answer: From my perspective, the change in the package format is the most drastic and significant since the acquisition of Softricity by Microsoft.
The change from .PKG to .APPV implies your existing App-V packages will not work on the new client and they have to be converted. The good news is that the new sequencer includes an “Package Converter” referred to as AppVPkgConverter. The AppVPkgConverter can be used to automate the conversion of the packages created using the 4.x sequencers into the .APPV format.
Question: Is there an estimated product release date?
Answer: This is another one that has to be posed to your representatives at Microsoft, but you should expect a 12 – 18 months before the RTM.
Question: Will packages created in App-V 4.x work on App-V 5.0?
Answer: No. Packages have to be converted into the new format.
Question: Will packages created in App-V 5.0 sequencer work on the App-V 4.x client?
Answer: No. You would have to upgrade your client to App-V 5.0 client.
In the past, you would have been able to use an earlier version of the sequencer to create packages for the newer version of the client. However, with the change in the package format (a very fundamental change), this is no longer the case.
Question: Will my application compatibility assessment tools e.g. AppTitude and AOK be capable of assessing my applications for App-V compatibility? How will I assess my applications for App-V 5.0 compatibility?
Answer: In fact, App-V virtualised applications now work almost similar to traditionally installed applications, implying you have a greater probability of being able to virtualise applications that you would have had difficulty with in the past.
The AppTitudes and AOKs will need to be updated by their respective vendors to include new rule sets and algorithms that take into consideration the deeper platform integration between App-V and the operating system.
You would hope by the time App-V 5.0 becomes RTM, these vendors would have upgraded their products.
However, note that if an application can be virtualised using App-V 4.x, then it is virtualisable using App-V 5.0
Question: How should I approach my application virtualisation? Should I continue in an aggressive manner or should I take a more cautious approach?
Answer: First and foremost, the questions you need to ask yourself are:
I. Will I be happy to convert all my existing App-V 4.x applications to App-V 5.0 format when App-V 5.0 is released?
II. Will my client base be happy to conduct a series of user acceptance testing for applications that are converted from App-V 4.x format to App-V 5.0 format?
III. Will I have resources –financial and personnel to undertake the task of package conversion from App-V 4.x format to App-V 5.0 format?
The answers you provide to those questions should determine how you approach application virtualisation.
My recommendation to my clients is to virtualise only applications that require constant patching , changes and upgrades, and continue delivering the more static ones as MSIs /EXEs. Using this approach implies that when App-V 5.0 is finally released, such applications might be in need of an upgrade and such applications can then be converted to the new 5.0 format and upgraded at the same time.
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