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Citrix AppLayering vs XenApp Published Apps

Steve Chambers




My apologies for what is probably a newb question but currently we are using XenApp (1909) to publish a couple of Microsoft Applications (Project, Visio) to some users using the WorkSpace App. I was curious if App Layering is maybe a better way to present software to users? Are there any advantages to using one technology versus the other? We are running Windows 10 virtual machines with a ton of applications installed to accommodate everyone's wants and needs. Most of these applications are engineering applications like AutoCAD. Can you publish an App Layer application to a physical workstation or is it only applicable in a virtual environment? Any user feedback would be appreciated. 


Thank you!




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App Layering would be a very complicated way to handle providing virtual apps to users if you only have a few apps that you need to provide.  Its designed to handle image and application management if you require a lot of flexibility and due to that would need to create lots of images that you would have to manage separately.  


App Layering does support both managing published images and deploying dynamic applications by using elastic layers that mount for users when they logon.  But you will need to change the way you create images to take advantage of the App Layering benefits.


The two apps you need first (Project and Visio)  wont work elastically because their licensing in intertwined with windows services.  Luckily this is only true of MS Office apps but it does mean that if all your users don't get Visio and Project we would recommend that you still deliver them with Citrix Virtual Apps (XenApp)  or add them to the image and use FSLogix to mask them from users that don't have rights to use them.


This is a good primer on elastic layering that may help 


A technical Overview


Reference Architecture on Tech-Zone



Also Carl Stalhood, George Spiers and many other have great content on how and why to use app layering.


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Thank you Rob for the detailed explanation and also for the links. Currently we do have to manage a lot of difference types of software (75+), some are specific to departments and some specific to just a certain set of users. Some applications are small in size and others like the various flavors of AutoCAD can be pretty large. Because of all of the different types of software we need to make available it makes for very large virtual machines. I was thinking that maybe AppLayering would be a good way to also help mitigate this?

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We are using a relatively small VDI drive. Since many of our users require the same apps daily, and new requests come in regularly, to save building bigger VDI images we use Xenapp to publish users' applications to VDI .  This configuration helps keep the VDI vdisk manageable and have one generic vdisk. This also prevents the users from having to install apps each morning via SCCM and consume drive space and time.

We are hoping to leverage app layering on our 2016 server conversion project to speed up server deployments and make our apps more manageable without consistently having to add more to our VDI vdisk when we add more apps.  We correctly support around 150 virtual apps to our VDI users.   

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