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Best way to bundle images for efficient layering

Brandon Prescott



We have been working with App Layering in our UAT environment for about 3 months with very good success. We started by building one application per layer and then having users test. Now that we have a sizable inventory of app layers we would like to start planning a full production deployment.

Q - which is more efficient,   to leave our app layers as they are in single or small bundled layers and bundle them into one large image, or bundle multiple applications into a layer and bundle the larger multi-app layers into images?  My thought was to bundle low maintenance apps into one layer and leave the more complicated apps that require more support, like Office, etc in their own layers, then bundle them all into larger images.  The goal is to reduce our total vdisk count in PVS.  


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Most customers do use an app layer for each app.  For me it depends on how you manage it, how its updated and how you will deliver it.  For example i usually create a single layer with all the smaller, free utilities you need to add to an image like acrobat reader, browsers, maybe java etc..  However if you add an app into a layer that has multiple apps you want to make sure they are likely to be upgraded for major versions at the same time or at least not for a while.  Normally when an app has a major upgrade you just create a new layer so your not dealing wit the mess of uninstalling and reinstalling.  if that app is part of a bigger layer with many apps that will mean you need to reinstall all the apps.  So better for apps that you know will be updated (major update)  either often or soon to have them in their own layer. 


If you are using elastic layers then you have to think about how many connections you want to have to the file server and when the layers will be mounted.  If you combine layers on XenApp you get the benefit that is one user mounts the layer all the apps are already mounted for any other user using an app in that layer.  So combining apps in that case can help but you have to have apps together that a defined group of users are allowed to access.


App Layering is designed for you to have the flexibility to do this as you wish.  Just keep in mind to use a layer elastically there are rules.  You should check the elastic fit to see if there are any issues.  Elastic layers cant have 3rd party drivers, kernel drivers, services that are dependencies for other services, anything that requires the layer be installed at boot time.  If you have layers that dont meet the requirements then you just have to include them in your image.


Hope this helps.


These resources might help as well





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We typically do 1 app for layer for the most part but do have exceptions such as a "Utility" layer that i use for the common utility apps like different browsers, java, 7zip, silverlight, etc.   Like Rob said it sometimes can be smart to bundle to cut down on the connections if you have too many layers assigned elastically.  For us one benefit is if they are all apps i update frequently this way we can edit  1 layer / month instead of several

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