How does VMware App Volumes differ from ThinApp?

VMware App Volumes, formerly CloudVolumes, is the virtualization company's attempt to speed application deployments and reduce IT headaches.

VMware's push to pull end-user computing customers from Citrix continued with VMware's August 2014 purchase of...

CloudVolumes. VMware renamed the acquired company's offering App Volumes to align the technology to its purpose: putting applications into compartments for desktop deployments.

The acquisition offers benefits to both the administrator of the virtual desktop environment and end users. For administrators, App Volumes builds a virtual machine disk file for applications and connects them to the user's desktop. Administrators can then upgrade or replace this application for all users from the management application. End users can modify their desktop and get applications they need installed without having to reboot or hand over their laptop to the IT department.

While App Volumes is designed to make things easier for administrators, the acquisition could lead to confusion as VMware has been offering its own layering technology, called ThinApp, for a while. Brad Maher of Focus Technology Solutions explained one difference between the two technologies at his Horizon View session at the New England VTUG Winter Warmer conference in January.

"ThinApp requires you to open the ThinApp and unpack it before the application associations become active. When you unpack this, you get your registry and the file system that gets unpacked and merged," Maher said. "[With] App Volumes, as soon as the App Volume or App Stack is attached to your system, that's when it becomes active. With ThinApp, basically you're pushing the ThinApp out to me, but [because] I haven't launched it yet, it's not really active at this point."

For example, an end user with a PowerPoint file on their desktop will see the icon change when App Volumes has delivered the PowerPoint application to the desktop. With ThinApp, a user would need to run the ThinApp first before being able to open the PowerPoint file.

App Volumes is included in the Horizon View Enterprise suite. Maher explained that users who purchased the Horizon View Premier bundle, which is no longer available, have the equivalent of what's now called Horizon View Standard, and would have to purchase App Volumes as a separate product.

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