Today's hybrid workplace requires organizations to be agile when it comes to providing access to applications and data in a fast, secure, and cost-effective way. Regardless of whether an organization uses an on-premises data center or a cloud-based environment, delivery quality and secure access to applications are common client requests and are crucial to the success of the organization. Together, Parallels RAS and appCURE provide actionable insights. Simplify your application management, save time on application delivery solutions, and automate application lifecycle management, by converting applications to a modern application format.
Application delivery management challenges
Although many application vendors are shifting towards Software as a Service (SaaS), cloud native applications, or web applications (web apps), there are still millions of business-critical Windows applications in use. In fact, Microsoft estimates “over 35 million application titles with greater than 175 million application versions, and 16 million unique hardware/driver combinations”.
Typically, a web application does not have a lot of requirements on the client side. This is different for Windows applications. To deliver Windows applications reliably and securely to end users, the front end of a Windows application needs to be in close logical proximity to any application servers or backend resources. In a hybrid or remote work environment, that becomes a challenge. Furthermore, application integration requires time and effort for initial deployment.
Organizations and partners spend a significant amount of time keeping applications up to date using various application delivery systems. Adding more Windows applications generates more template images and more mandatory template image updates. Besides these challenges, testing business critical Windows applications on a new or existing operating system, updating due to security or other enhancements, cataloging, and packaging are extremely time consuming and have a significant impact on business operations. And finally, when applications are outdated or lack documentation, they are even more difficult to update and maintain.
A solid application delivery platform with MSIX app attach
What is MSIX?
MSIX app attach is a combination of two different technologies. MSIX is a modern Microsoft Windows application package format. It preserves the functionality of existing application packages and installation files and enables new, modern packaging and deployment features for Win32, Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), and Windows Forms apps.
What is MSIX app attach?
MSIX app attach provides a way to dynamically deliver MSIX applications to both physical and virtual machines without having to install the applications directly onto a Windows workspace. Microsoft provides integration and management of MSIX app attach as part of Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) on Microsoft Azure. However, this is limited to Microsoft Azure.
Parallels RAS provides MSIX app attach management and integration, enabling IT administrators to easily manage, assign, and publish MSIX app attach packages to end users, even outside of Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop. Parallels RAS includes version tagging for easier life cycle management. And finally, MSIX applications always need to be signed by a code-signing certificate. Parallels RAS automatically ensures that all host servers trust the certificate without any manual action and displays the expiration date. For more information, visit this blog post on the MSIX App Attach Integration Included in Parallels RAS.
Application delivery management strategies used today
A recent DaaS Like a Pro survey performed from June through October 2022, asked “Do you currently use an application layering or isolation solution?”. Of the affirmative respondents, MSIX ranked as the 5th most popular solution, despite being relatively new. Most interviewees indicated that they are still using Microsoft App-V, which has moved into its end of life.
NOTE: Microsoft has ceased investing in App-V. The extended support end date for App-V is April 14, 2026, and Microsoft recommends looking at MSIX app attach as the replacement. MSIX was built upon the principles of App-V and is seen as the predecessor for what Microsoft will focus on going forward.
Similar results are also visible in a recent poll performed in the tech community. 30% of the people who responded to this poll are already using MSIX to deliver applications and 21% are still using App-V.
Modern application delivery: transforming applications to MSIX
In addition to full support for traditionally installed applications and application streaming (AppV), Parallels RAS also provides full integration and management for modern application delivery based on MSIX app attach technology. MSIX app attach requires applications to be in the MSIX format. Although there are some application vendors that natively deliver their applications in MSIX format, most application vendors have not transitioned to this modern application packaging format yet.
If application vendors are not delivering their applications natively in MSIX, how do you get an MSIX version of a third-party application? The answer is converting existing applications by taking an existing MSI, EXE, or other installation media and converting it into an MSIX format. For this task, Microsoft provides the MSIX Packaging Tool. The MSIX Packaging Tool enables you to repackage your existing desktop applications to the MSIX format. For basic conversion of simple applications, the MSIX Packaging Tool is suitable.
Beyond simple applications however, the success rate of the MSIX Packaging Tool significantly drops. Furthermore, the MSIX packaging tool requires numerous manual steps. Lastly, once you have successfully transformed an application to MSIX, it needs to be manually tested and converted to a VHD, VHDX, or CIMFS container before you can use it as MSIX app attach. As a result, the entire conversion process becomes cumbersome and time consuming.
Application delivery process: Capture, Update, Remediate & Execute
appCURE is based around CURE (Capture, Update, Remediate, and Execute), solving the application transition headache of moving to a new solution at a pace that fundamentally shifts the time to production of modern digital workspaces, server, and cloud environments, while future proofing against potential problems and vulnerabilities and significantly reducing project timelines.
Using appCURE Studio, you can convert any application to MSIX and even capture running applications in case the original installer is no longer available. After an application is transformed into an MSIX app attach package, appCURE then transforms and outputs the package, and Parallels RAS provides the delivery for successful end user access.
Reliable application delivery: Parallels RAS integrated in appCURE studio
Starting with appCURE Studio version 3.4, there is direct integration between appCURE Studio and Parallels RAS. By leveraging the REST API that Parallels RAS provides, appCURE Studio can output MSIX app attach packages directly to Parallels RAS. After outputting to Parallels RAS, the MSIX app attach package becomes available within Parallels RAS and can then be published to any multi-user or single-user session host.
With this integration you can capture, transform, and publish applications in the new MSIX format to any user on both 1:1 as well as 1:many environments. Without any manual action or scripting, administrators can provide access to Windows applications inside Parallels RAS that are packaged in the new MSIX packaging format. This significantly reduces the time spent managing the application landscape, reduces the number of template images needed, and enables a fast update cadence of applications.
By combining appCURE Studio and Parallels RAS, organizations benefit from fast application delivery and easier application life cycle management while providing access to business-critical Windows applications. The screenshot below shows the Parallels RAS integration inside appCURE Studio where MSIX app attach packages are being imported directly as Application Packages into Parallels RAS.
Speed up transformation and delivery of the applications
Application delivery management refers to the full platform that helps to efficiently provide applications to end users. The Parallels RAS and appCURE joint solution enables speed of transformation and application delivery management to align with the modern timeframes of production environments and business requirements. The joint solution provides benefits in four different key elements as outlined below. Read more on that partnership in our initial joint solution brief.
Simplify application deployment and management
With appCURE, you can easily convert packages to MSIX app attach. Use the centralized Parallels RAS Console to manage the deployment and publishing of MSIX app attach packages to deliver applications on demand, use filters to control user access, and manage certificates and package versions with version tags.
Save time on maintenance costs
Using appCURE reduces the time and effort needed to get apps into the modern MSIX packaging format and ready for MSIX app attach. Parallels RAS helps efficiently deliver MSIX app attach packages to users no matter what infrastructure the app is running on, be it local data centers, a cloud environment, or load balancing across multi- cloud environments.
Automate application lifecycles
Automate the entire lifecycle of applications using the Parallels RAS and appCURE PowerShell and REST APIs. Easily tie into your own DevOps infrastructure or CI/CD pipelines. You can also pull MSIX packaged apps directly and automatically from the appCURE Repo and deliver them through Parallels RAS. The ability to use version tags (production, pre-production, staging, etc.) within Parallels RAS also helps streamline the overall application life cycle management process. Version tag management can be used via the Parallels RAS console, REST APIs, and PowerShell to fully support automation.
Cost effective app delivery
Parallels RAS and appCURE eliminate the need for time-consuming (and potentially risky) app rewrites. Avoid the cost of replacing existing software, the training and downtime associated with software updates, and expensive extended support contracts for end-of-life software.
Regardless of whether your environment is an on-premises data center, a cloud-based or multi-cloud environment, having solid application delivery management in place is crucial. Parallels RAS provides choice and is the ideal delivery solution for enterprises that present virtual apps and desktops to end users. By combining Parallels RAS with appCURE and delivering MSIX applications, you can deliver applications faster, ensure application performance, and optimize your overall application delivery management.