Application Virtualization: What Is It and Why Does Your Organization Need It?

Application virtualization is a technology that encapsulates an application from the underlying operating system on which it is executed. It enables access to an application without needing to install it on the target device.

From the user’s perspective, the application works and interacts like it’s native on the device. The user can resize, move or minimize the application window, as well as using familiar keyboard and mouse operations. There might be subtle differences at times, but for the most part, the user has a seamless experience.

Differences between Desktop and Application Virtualization

Desktop Virtualization refers to virtualizing desktops and applying operating systems to a remote or local client. On the other hand, application virtualization refers to insulate running programs from the underlying desktop and there are various methods for this. Desktop virtualization, also known as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), seems to solve the same problems that application virtualization solves. However, the underlying difference between the two is huge, as one cannot be used as a replacement for the other.

You can use application images inside virtualized desktops, but the maintenance and application delivery of VDI solutions differs greatly from application virtualization. The differences between the two are:

Desktop Virtualization Application Virtualization
Offers greater flexibility to virtual infrastructure A lesser level of flexibility in comparison
A richer and consistent desktop experience The desktop experience differs from application to application
Maintenance of applications is difficult as simple changes require redeployment of the “golden image” to all VDI instances Allows easier maintenance of applications, allowing change to take place without the user even noticing that changes have taken place
Cost can be a concern depending on the use case Cost-effective solution
Applications are still tied into the underlying OS Fully isolates the application from the underlying OS
Gives users the experience of a complete desktop Gives users the experience individualized to make it application-specific
Complete virtualization causes more impact on the underlying hardware Application virtualization transfers less data, thus lowering the impact on the hardware.
Access and authentication management is comparatively difficult Access and authentication management is comparatively easier

Benefits of Application Virtualization

How many of your employees wish they could work from home during rush hour to avoid spending hours in traffic and then commute in more convenient hours without having to change their working hours’ schedule?

The benefits of application virtualization are many, some of which are listed below:

Drawbacks of Application Virtualization

Application virtualization comes with challenges as well. Not all applications are suited to virtualization. For example, graphics-intensive applications can slow down (lag) during the rendering process. In addition, a steady and reliable connection to the server is required to provide users with a solid UX with the applications.

Some applications require device drivers and 16-bit applications running in the memory. Some applications, such as anti-virus programs, must integrate with the local OS, as they require continuous access to local data. The use of peripheral devices, like printers, can get more complicated with app virtualization. System monitoring tools can have trouble with virtualized applications, making it tricky to troubleshoot and isolate performance concerns.

Use Cases for Application Virtualization

The following is a list of use cases for application virtualization

Cost control

If you have a huge number of employees or end-users, then purchasing expensive PCs for everyone can turn out to be drastically expensive. Application virtualization comes to the rescue in such a situation as it allows you to deliver critical applications to any endpoint.

Application mobility

Enterprise applications should be accessible from any kind of mobile device for ease of use. Application virtualization offers application mobility by allowing applications to be delivered to any endpoint.

Secure remote access capabilities

Application virtualization allows employees to access critical applications from anywhere and that too in a secure manner. Application virtualization is useful for work-from-home scenarios that not only provide ease but also security.

Simplified migrations

Since application virtualization separates applications from the underlying operating system, there is no need to carry out extensive migrations from one kind of OS to the other.

Deploying in-house applications

Another important use case of application virtualization is the deployment of in-house applications which are updated frequently by developers. The updates, installation, and delivery of these applications are made remote and quick using application virtualization. Hence, application virtualization is equally important for organizations that deploy in-house applications.

Application Virtualization with Parallels RAS

Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) assists organizations with application and desktop virtualization. Thousands of organizations have already implemented Parallels RAS on their infrastructure, allowing them to publish, manage and update their applications centrally. In addition, some have opted to go for thin clients and have enabled employees to work remotely, cutting down the total cost of ownership (TCO) and increasing productivity.

Download your 30-day evaluation period of Parallels RAS and enjoy the benefits of application and desktop virtualization today!