Unidesk and VMware App Volumes continue to draw comparisons as the leading solutions for install-free application packaging and delivery using virtual disk "layers." Both were in the news again recently. TechTarget SearchVirtualDesktop's story "VMware App Volumes 3.0 confusion frustrates customers" includes commentary from customers of both products, and substantiates many of the technical differences explained in the blog "Comparing Unidesk and App Volumes."
While there are many differences between Unidesk and App Volumes, two stood out in the TechTarget story.
1. Unidesk Has Greater App Compatibility
Unidesk is the only "full-stack" layering technology that can package and deliver every part of a Windows workspace as a modular virtual disk: the Windows operating system itself (OS layer), apps (App layers), and a writable Persistent layer that captures all user settings, user-installed apps, and data. This unique ability to run below Windows enables Unidesk to package and deliver all apps, including:
- Apps with boot-time drivers (e.g. printers, scanners),
- Apps with deep Windows dependencies (e.g. Internet Explorer),
- Apps that start very early in the Windows boot sequence (antivirus, XenApp VDA),
- Apps that need to be running when users are logged out (e.g. Imprivata OneSign agent, VMware Horizon View agent, Citrix Receiver).
The Unidesk banking customer interviewed for the TechTarget story confirms they are successfully layering all of their apps - Adobe Creative Cloud, iTunes, Java, SMS, Flash players, CallReporter, Google Chrome, OrgChart Pro, Fiserv DNA, custom lending programs, and more - on top of one clean Windows 7 OS layer (read the Needham Bank case study).
App Volumes is an above-the-OS layering technology, which means it starts running too late to package and deliver all apps. A VMware forum post on the inability for App Volumes to manage Imprivata OneSign is indicative of the same "last 30%" app compatibility problem that plagued first-generation application virtualization technologies. This is likely why an App Volumes user interviewed for the TechTarget story reported "a very inconsistent experience in applying apps by user and applying apps by computer."
2. Unidesk Has Faster Login Times
Unidesk and App Volumes can both deliver applications in real-time using "in-guest layering" technology that mounts assigned virtual disks to running Windows guest VMs when users login. App Volumes offers this "hot-add" or "on-demand" app delivery capability for VDI only. Unidesk Elastic Layering - now generally available - takes this one step farther with the ability to deliver layers at login to both VDI as well as Citrix XenApp or RD Session Host published desktops (essentially giving traditional server-based computing the same app customization and personalization capabilities as VDI).
Unidesk also offers a second option - the ability to deliver apps as part of a "Layered Image" using layering technology that runs outside the Windows virtual machine. This out-of-band layering option lets admins combine a Windows OS layer and any combination of app layers pre-boot into a full-blown image that can be seamlessly delivered through existing provisioning technologies such as Citrix Provisioning Services and VMware Horizon View Composer.
By reducing the number of virtual disks that need to be mounted at login using Layered Images and intelligent Elastic Layering, Unidesk enables customers to optimize login times, helping maximize both user acceptance and productivity. App Volumes doesn't have these capabilities. According to the TechTarget story, "The problem with App Volumes was, the more AppStacks IT assigned to a user or their computer, the longer the login time would take."
It's good to see the market start to recognize that all application lifecycle management solutions are not equal. While no technology is perfect, we've worked hard at Unidesk to provide IT with a solution that can manage all apps and eliminate image management cost and complexity, while simultaneously improving the end user experience. And, we're doing this with the only solution that can now span hypervisors, public clouds, and end user computing platforms for true "package once, deliver anywhere" flexibility.
What other differences have you seen between Unidesk, App Volumes, and other application management solutions? Let us know!