Citrix AppDisk, a new player in the layering field


Citrix AppDisk, a new player in the layering field

At Synergy a few months ago, Citrix announced AppDisk. Citrix Appdisk is a new layering technique from Citrix comparable with VMware AppVolumes, Liquidware labs FlexApp, FSlogix or Unidesk.
Citrix had a similar product already called Personal vDisk (PvD) but that failed horribly in real life. PvD was not all about layering applications, it was a split between data and applications and more there to give the user a personal disk in a non-persistent world. That was then, the world changed so new day, new play, new winners.

Citrix Appdisk

Citrix Appdisk will be delivered with Citrix AppDNA for the analysis part of it.
Let’s first quickly look at what Citrix Appdisk is and what we now of it right now?
Citrix Appdisk is integrated in the Citrix studio console and you don’t have to hop over to another console to manage assignements. That’s a good thing for that’s my biggest concern with most additions that you get yet another console. So it’s integrated (VMware needs some work there with AppVolumes but they are working on it).
The overview shown below is a very basic and simple view on how it works, this of course could apply to all layering products (if you left the names out).
  • The application layer is set to capture applications on a certain machine you call your reference machine
  • The application after capturing is done is analyzed with AppDNA to see if there are issues with it or if you better virtualize it with Microsoft App-v
  • The application is then offered to the delivery group it was meant for. It is only machine based on initial release. User will need to have a common application need, you will offer a layer to a delivery group so all users in that group using that desktop will get the same applications. 
This is one big issue so far, applications with Citrix Appdisk can only be delivered to a delivery group so far. This makes the use case at this moment less flexible.

The first release of Citrix Appdisk is only supported on Citrix Xenserver, why they chose to not support VMware vSphere (where 80% of all Citrix environment run on) is beyond my understanding. If I look at our customers I see no one using Xenserver and a mix of 90/10 with vSphere and Hyper-v. I hope they will include vsphere support asap as well.

I got a major project on the brink of starting where Application layering is a key aspect, currently the customer is looking at Unidesk for Citrix can’t deliver and they can’t wait another year.

Q/A

I’ve been reading and listening a lot to gather information. I gathered it all here so you know what is coming. If there are things that are changed when it is released, I will change it asap. If you see an error please let me know, errors are easily made (certainly with a non-released products).
  • What hypervisor are supported?
Only XenServer is supported on release
  • Will I be able to deploy to physical devices?
No you will not, it’s only available for virtual environments. ringcube had the ability to deploy to physical but Citrix doesn’t see this as their core battle field.
  • Will I be lost of application conflicts?
No, if you have conflicting applications they will be conflicting also with Appdisk. It’s not magic. for those apps you need application virtualization.
  • Will I need to log-off?
No you will not, you can assign it instantly or at next logon.
  • What does AppDNA do?
AppDNA will do an analysis to see if there are conflicts or if the application is more efficient if it was virtualized. It will offer you a report that shows what to do with the application. If there are no issues, Citrix studio will show that also. If the application is better virtualized AppDNA can spit out you App-v package.
AppDNA will analyze what would happen if you update a layer and knows what will break if you do an upgrade. 
  • Is AppDNA included in every license?
AppDNA is included with the Platinum license, for all other licenses you will see only AppDisk functionality.
  • Will it be read/write?
No it will be read-only only, PvD will handle the write-able things. So you need two solutions to handle this.
  • Is it PvD?
No PvD will be also there, they are living together to capture persistent settings.
There will be two products to handle your user settings and applications, not sure this is the way to go? I think they will integrate them on the long run.
  • Is it a new filter driver?
Not really the driver, it’s like version 2.0 of the PvD driver. It’s the experience with PvD that brought Citrix to Appdisk.
  • How many Appdisk can you attach?
It will be the maximum number of the hypervisor can handle but of course there will be a number at which point the performance will be going down.
When can I get my hand dirty?
  • From the rumor it could be tomorrow but that’s the fun with new products, you never know exactly… let’s see tomorrow.

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