Wednesday, October 8, 2014

VMware CloudVolumes

VMware CloudVolumes is a great addition to the EUC portfolio, it is a mechanism to provide application abstraction; which helps ease the burden of application life-cycle management, delivers applications quickly, and creates portability of an end user's entitled applications. The acquisition of CloudVolumes was announced just before VMworld US 2014.

Let's look at the traditional method for application integration into a Windows operating system. The applications, settings, user's profile, and in many cases user data are tightly coupled with the OS; and the overall user experience. Unfortunately, this practice makes it so that the applications can only be associated with a single system. With the CloudVolumes application model, it decouples the applications from the Windows operating system and places them into AppStacks. From a conceptual point of view, it isn't much different than the abstraction of the operating system from the underlying hardware, which we are familiar with in traditional hypervisor technology. It also uses an entirely different container for persisting user changes between sessions.

You can combine your core applications into a single AppStack, making it easy to deploy to users by using Active Directory object assignments. Applications are delivered through VMDK virtual disks. CloudVolumes can dynamically attach the virtual disks to a VDI or RDSH desktop, even when users are logged into their entitled virtual workstation. You can make these updates immediately, or on next login or reboot.

This dramatically increases the operational efficiency of managing application life-cycle for end user computing, from install to upgrade to removal of applications; and it can be done at scale. The central management capability provides IT professionals with the ability to update an AppStack once and then distribute to enterprise devices in seconds.

One other very important aspect to understand is that the applications run natively. Unlike like a traditional application virtualization tool such as VMware ThinApp, which encapsulates the file system and registry in to a single package. CloudVolumes injects the necessary registry components and file systems into the operating system. What does this mean? When using an application virtualization tool that encapsulates the registry and file system into the package you can typically virtualize 60% of the applications, this is due to the complexity of application dependencies. That isn't the case with CloudVolumes, because the applications run natively on the virtual desktop you can pretty much deploy any application.

Below is a list of the CloudVolumes components:
  • CloudVolumes Manager
    • Console for assignments and configuration
    • Broker for CloudVolume agent for the assignment of applications and writable volumes
  • CloudVolumes Agent
    • File system and registry
    • Virtualizes file system writes as appropriate (when used with optional writeable volume)
  • AppStack Volume(s)
    • Read-only volume containing applications
    • Can map more than one AppStack per user, target
    • Deploy apps to VDI or RDSH
  • Writable volume
    • Per user read-write volume used to persist changes written in the session
    • One writable volume per user
The process for CloudVolumes is straight-forward, the CloudVolumes Agent that is installed on the virtual desktop checks in with the CloudVolumes Manager, it looks for any pending attachments or un-attachments. The CloudVolume Manager checks its database for the logged in user assignments, then attaches assigned volumes, both Writable volumes and AppStacks. Again, updates can happen immediately, or on next login or reboot.

By leveraging different AppStacks, you can entitle users to applications they need for their respective roles. If they accept a new job in the organization, you simply entitle them to the AppStacks required for that position. Or, if the user leaves the company, you simply remove their entitlements to all the applications.


When you leverage CloudVolumes with a Horizon View non-persistent pool, you get centralized management of the base OS with linked-clones and you get centralized management of the applications with AppStacks. To make this a comprehensive solution, I would recommend using a profile management tool to abstract and manage the user profile, such as Liquidware Labs ProfileUnity.
News: Top vBlog 2016 Trending: DRS Advanced Settings