As always, the ZENworks team has been busy improving our products over the summer. In January, 2012, Novell will release ZENworks Application Virtualization (ZAV) 9.0, a huge step forward in our battle to make life easy for our customers. At a high level, we have improved ZAV in the following areas:
- New automated packaging techniques
- Online template library
- Improved security features
- Improved streaming features
This article will describe what goodies you can expect, but first I want to briefly overview what ZENworks Application Virtualization is for any new-comers.
What is ZENworks Application Virtualization?
Packaging, deploying and testing applications on the various platforms in the enterprise is very complex, requiring significant investment in resources and time. Traditional software delivery methods that embed changes to the Operating System’s file-system and registry at install time can cause incompatibilities with other applications and in some cases the operating systems or sub-systems that are deployed on the endpoint. Many applications rely on sub-systems such as Java or .Net, and in some cases different applications require different versions of those sub-systems and need to be accessed at the same time from the same endpoint. All of these permutations need to be modelled and tested by IT to ensure a smooth error-free delivery to the end-user.
ZENworks Application Virtualization enables traditional Windows-based software to be packaged in such a way that it is isolated from the underlying Operating System and other applications, physical or virtual, that may be installed on an endpoint. Each application is delivered as an isolated executable containing the relevant files, DLLs and registry keys required by the application allowing multiple applications to be available with minimal impact on the physical Operating System or hardware.
With the intro complete, let’s now focus on the good stuff and see what’s new in ZAV 9.0
Recipes and Harvesting
ZAV 9.0 introduces harvesting, a new method for the automated creation of virtualized applications. In previous versions of ZAV, selecting a template would download all of the code required for the application and build it locally, administrators could then tweak the application before building to ensure the configuration matched requirements. Harvesting works in a slightly differently way, when a template is chosen all that is downloaded by the ZAV Studio is a document referred to as a recipe. The recipe instructs the ZAV Studio how to harvest the application and its configuration from the local system. In order for harvesting to function, the application targeted for virtualization must be installed on the same machine as the ZAV Studio.
So what is a recipe? A recipe is an ingredients lists detailing where all the components of an application and its configuration reside. The important distinction to make with recipes is that the configuration of the application is also harvested during this process. What this allows our customers to do is install their applications, configure them as required and harvest them to a virtual application in a few simple steps.
The list below shows a list of the templates that will be available when ZAV 9.0 ships. This will only get better and better due to innovative way we host recipes via web-services, more on that later
Adobe CS5 Master Collection
Adobe CS5.5 Design Premium
Adobe CS5.5 Web Premium
Adobe Flash Catalyst
Adobe Flash Pro
Adobe InDesign CS5.5
Adobe Master Collection CS 5.5
Adobe Photoshop Elements 9
Adobe Premiere Elements
Adobe Reader 9.4
Adobe Reader X
Google Talk Beta
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6
Microsoft Internet Explorer 7
Microsoft Internet Explorer 8
Microsoft Internet Explorer 9
MS Office 2003 Pro (English)
MS Office 2003 Pro Enterprise (English)
MS Office 2007 Enterprise (VLK) (English)
MS Office 2007 Enterprise (VLK) (French)
MS Office 2007 Enterprise (VLK) (German)
MS Office 2007 Enterprise (VLK) (Spanish)
MS Office 2007 Pro (English)
MS Office 2007 Pro (German)
MS Office 2007 Pro (Spanish)
MS Office 2007 Pro Plus (English)
MS Office 2007 Pro Plus (French)
MS Office 2007 Pro Plus (German)
MS Office 2007 Pro Plus (Spanish)
MS Office 2007 Standard (English)
MS Office 2007 Standard (Spanish)
MS Office 2007 Ultimate (English)
MS Office 2007 Ultimate (French)
MS Office 2007 Ultimate (German)
MS Office 2007 Ultimate (Spanish)
MS Office 2010 Home and Business (English) (x64)
MS Office 2010 Home and Business (English) (x86)
MS Office 2010 Pro Plus (English) (x64)
MS Office 2010 Pro Plus (English) (x86)
MS Office 2010 Pro Plus (French) (x64)
MS Office 2010 Pro Plus (French) (x86)
MS Office 2010 Pro Plus (German) (x64)
MS Office 2010 Pro Plus (German) (x86)
MS Office 2010 Pro Plus (Spanish) (x64)
MS Office 2010 Pro Plus (Spanish) (x86)
MS Office 2010 Standard (English) (x64)
MS Office 2010 Standard (English) (x86)
MS Office 2010 Standard (French) (x64)
MS Office 2010 Standard (French) (x86)
MS Office 2010 Standard (German) (x64)
MS Office 2010 Standard (German) (x86)
MS Office 2010 Standard (Spanish) (x64)
MS Office 2010 Standard (Spanish) (x86)
Microsoft Project 2003 Pro (English)
Microsoft Visio 2003 Pro (English)
Mozilla Firefox 2
Mozilla Firefox 3
Mozilla Firefox 3.5
Mozilla Firefox 3.6
Mozilla Firefox 4
Mozilla Firefox 6
Novell GroupWise Client 7.0.3
Novell GroupWise Client 8
Novell GroupWise Client 8 SP1
Novell GroupWise Client 8 SP2
Novell GroupWise Messenger 2.0.4
Novell Messenger 2.2
Novell OpenOffice 2.4.1
Novell OpenOffice 3
Novell OpenOffice 3.1
Novell OpenOffice 3.2.1
Open Office 2
Although recipes provide a really easy way to get up and running with application virtualisation very quickly, the Desktop Scan feature in ZAV 9.0 makes it even easier. The Desktop Scan feature in ZAV Studio scans the local machine for locally installed software and matches this to the current recipe list, the result is list of applications you can tick and build in one step. Below is an example of the desktop scan result, in this example clicking next will automatically virtualize all five applications with no input required by the administrator.
Online template library
Harvesting via recipes and Desktop Scan alone represent a major step forward in usability, but ZAV 9.0 takes this one step further through the use of hosted Web Services. In ZAV 9.0, the template list and Desktop Scan matching service are hosted via an online Web Service, this allows the template list and scanning service to be constantly refined and updated. In previous releases of ZAV, if Novell wanted to provide a new template, this would have to wait until the next release of the product. In ZAV 9.0, each time the template list is accessed, the template library is checked online for updates and the template list is updated accordingly.
Portability of applications is a great benefit of application virtualization, but how does IT ensure that applications do not roam to devices not under control by IT? Today ZAV applications can be instructed to check at run-time if the local device is managed by ZENworks and even specify the ZONE the machine must be in. The idea here is to prevent users moving applications via removable media and running them on non-managed devices. ZAV 9.0 takes this one step further by improving security in the following ways:
- Microsoft Active Directory checking
- Custom security shims
Microsoft Active Directory checking
This feature allows applications to be tied to Microsoft Active Directory Users. ZAV applications can check if the current user is a member of a given Microsoft AD Domain and also check for Microsoft Active Directory User Group Membership. This feature is particularly useful for customers who either do not have ZENworks or environments where one ZENworks ZONE is used to manage multiple Microsoft Active Directory Domains.
Custom Security Shims
Checking for ZENworks management or Microsoft Active Directory membership are performed by application shims that we embed into our offering. ZAV 9.0 allows for a custom shims to be created an embedded into any application. The custom shim is a DLL that performs whatever checks the developer needs and returns a positive or negative state, therefore controlling whether the application is allowed to run. Details on the requirements of a custom shim will be documented in the ZAV User Guide. Finally, shim chaining is also supported in ZAV 9.0, allowing ZENworks, Microsoft Active Directory and a custom shim to all be included in a single virtualized application.
ZAV allows applications to be profiled, modelled and published to a file-share or web-page for intelligent streaming with no need for a managed presence on the endpoint. Intelligent streaming uses machine-learning technology to dynamically modify the stream delivery path in real time based upon observed behaviour as the user progresses through the application. Other streaming systems depend on linear, non-adaptive transmission resulting in high-latency page-level network round-trips and dramatically reducing performance the moment users deviate from a predefined execution path. In ZAV 9.0 we have improved streaming in the following areas:
- Offline support application support
- Juke-boxing support
In ZAV 9.0, when an virtual application is registered with the endpoint and has fully cached, the streamed application can be executed offline via the registered icon or automatically through an association. If the stream source is updated, the next time the endpoint can connect to the source, the application is automatically streamed down to the device.
The term ‘Juke-boxing’ refers to the ability to launch multiple applications from a single virtualized instance. This is required for large suite applications such as Microsoft Office where the entire suite is virtualized as a single executable but entry points are needed for Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and others. In ZAV 9.0, a single intelligent stream source can be used to provide multiple access points. Taking Microsoft Office as an example, a single stream source can be created with launch points for each sub-application, the result is quicker access to the individual applications without any duplication of source stream data.
The focus of ZAV 9.0 is to make life easier for administrators but to also provide a product that will self-improve as time goes on. Today virtualizing applications using templates requires administrators to subsequently inject customizations to make sure the application is configured exactly as required. Typically an IT environment will maintain a test environment, in many customers maintain a model office environment mimicking a production environment. Running ZAV 9.0 Studio on a model office machine will allow IT to detect, harvest and build virtual applications and their configuration in a single step, drastically reducing the time it takes to get applications virtualized and users productive.
Reading this you can start to see how Novell’s approach to application virtualization with this new release not only reduces the time it takes to virtualize applications but also allows us to constantly improve the template library for our customers. To help us get there, Novell needs your help. Please use visit the ZAV Community page, forums and/or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to tell Novell what applications should have recipes.
For more information on ZENworks Application Virtualization, please visit the product pages here.