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App streaming makes smooth sailing for IT

With app streaming, you don't have to install applications locally or worry about pushing out patches and updates. Users can cache the applications and even work offline. They'll receive the updates the next time they launch the app.

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Streaming applications to users comes with many advantages. It makes application management a lot easier for IT, and it helps users get work done, even when they're offline.

App streaming lets you deliver apps to users without installing them on local computers. Instead, when a user opens an application, the system begins the process of copying the package one block at a time. The process is transparent to users, and all they need on their end is an agent to read the application (except with VMware ThinApp; that's agent-less). With application streaming, workers can start using applications even before they are fully copied to their desktops; the remaining portions of the application download in the background.

When a user launches a streamed app, starter blocks are sent to the client first. They let the user open the app and begin working. Then the predictive and on-demand blocks are sent. Intelligence built into streaming utilities makes sure the next blocks to come are those that users are most likely to need after the starter blocks load. When a user clicks on a feature that hasn't already been sent, it comes to them in an on-demand block. Once the entire application is streamed to the desktop, the user can cache it to work offline.

App streaming adds to virtualization benefits

Application virtualization lets you run any virtualized app on any version of Windows. It also means you don't need to install applications on endpoints, which centralizes management and makes deploying patches and updates a snap. Additionally, application virtualization allows you to run different versions of the same application on the same system, which can be helpful if specific departments need features of an older application that aren't available in a new version, for example.

App streaming has all those benefits and more. When you apply patches and updates to an application, those changes make their way to users the next time they launch the app. Streaming also makes for faster deployments and better security. Because the applications you stream to users are sandboxed by default, they can't get malware or communicate it back to the data center.

This sandboxing also eliminates compatibility issues between applications. Because the streamed applications can't interact with other data on the users' computer -- or other streamed apps -- there's no need to worry about apps that don't play well with others.

The architecture for streaming applications is a lot simpler than traditional distribution systems, too. The server you host the applications on becomes just a file server. And app virtualization and streaming eliminate the need to write different versions of the same application for various operating systems because users can connect to VDI sessions and hosted applications via clients on their devices. Streaming applications to workers' mobile devices helps them get work done on the go, and it protects corporate resources from the malware and viruses that may live on employees' smartphones and tablets.

You don't have to worry about bandwidth constraints with application streaming because it only sends the blocks that users need as they need them. Finally, it can help you with license management. Depending on which tool you choose to stream applications, you can find out which workers actually use the applications.

In part two of this series, learn about some of the disadvantages that come with application streaming.

Next Steps

Benefits of application layering

License management a check in the pro column for app virtualization

This was first published in July 2014

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