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VMware fixed some of the biggest limitations of its App Volumes application-layering tool in version 3.0.
VMware App Volumes works by placing applications into virtual machine disk files in groups, called AppStacks, which are then mounted and blended with the operating system of a running VM. Because certain applications require admins to deliver them together as a group -- Office or Adobe Creative Suite, for example -- companies often end up with lots of different AppStacks containing different mixtures of applications; some of them are necessary and some are just along for the ride.
In the previous version of App Volumes, administrators were in a tough spot: They could either deliver AppStacks to users that include extra applications, or they could make numerous user- or group-specific AppStacks. Both options were a bit inefficient, and VMware figured out a better way in App Volumes 3.0.
Additions to VMware App Volumes 3.0
In the most significant revision since VMware acquired the technology in 2015, App Volumes 3.0 addressed the product's shortcomings with a few new features: AppToggle, AppCapture and AppIsolation. AppToggle allows administrators to turn on or off certain applications from an AppStack. This means admins can deploy an AppStack that has more applications than a user needs, but only install the apps the user requires. In the past, IT would have had to create a separate AppStack, with only the apps that user needed, so this is a marked improvement in manageability.
AppCapture lets admins capture single applications into their own AppStack, and later merge them into a larger existing AppStack containing other applications. Admins then use the AppToggle feature to manage individual users' app entitlements. The main difference between prior versions and VMware App Volumes 3.0 is it's now possible to prepare applications for delivery one at a time, and then merge them together, rather than grouping all of them at once.
During a merge, App Volumes evaluates each application's requirements, and if a conflict exists, AppIsolation kicks in to separate the components to make the applications behave with one another. AppIsolation uses an automated version of VMware's ThinApp application virtualization technology to isolate problematic apps.
Addressing these app delivery concerns is a big deal, because it closes the gap between VMware and vendors, such as Citrix. There is no clear-cut winner in app virtualization or layering, but without changes like this, App Volumes would have fallen behind.
An overview of how App Volumes works
App Volumes and ThinApp are better together
Step-by-step instructions for using ThinApp