With the announcement that Citrix App Layering (powered by Unidesk) is now generally available in Citrix Cloud, I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts on the Unidesk acquisition by Citrix, and why I believe App Layering is going to revolutionize IT.

When Unidesk was founded back in 2008, it was with the belief that application management on Windows was broken — even for customers who adopted application streaming and virtualization solutions to centralize and secure apps and data. Image sprawl, complex applications, OS patches, system software, home grown applications — especially when deployed across a wide range of users and use cases — combine to create a complex environment that can be difficult to manage efficiently and cost effectively.

This was the genesis of layering. Fast forward to 2017 and much of IT continues to execute those same, time-consuming and expensive solutions for application management… except for about 1,400 companies that discovered Unidesk and found there was a better way to manage apps through layering. Citrix App Layering takes a different approach to layering than any other vendor in the world — where we layer not just applications, but the operating system as well. This eliminates traditional image management, and is the key to finally fixing IT app management pain by providing:

  • Simplicity: As an admin, if you can install an app on a laptop or desktop, you can make a layer. It’s really that simple. When you want to add or update an app, you are given a clean Windows virtual machine with the required OS and apps (all layers). You simply log in, install or update your app (just as you would on a laptop or desktop), and voilá! You’re done.
  • Application compatibility: Unlike any other solution in the market — including other layering technologies — Citrix App Layering can layer nearly every application that exists. Not just easy apps like Notepad++, but complex ones like Anti-virus, system services, print drivers, complex client-server line of business apps, apps that never had an installer written for them, and more. Even the OS itself is in a layer, which is the start of the magic of Citrix App Layering… because the OS itself is in a layer, those complex, system-level, boot time apps just work.
  • Eliminate image management: How many gold images do you manage? Commonly, I hear of 20-30 individual images, and hundreds in some of the largest companies. Why? Because those other app management products can’t deliver all the apps needed by the various use cases. But Citrix App Layering can, and even better, automatically create all your images for you. Real VMDK and VHD gold images, all built from the very same layers. Finally — patch the OS and apps once, and manage countless use cases.
  • On-demand applications: But why do you have so many gold images to begin with? It’s usually because you need different apps for different use cases. But what if you could deliver the apps each user needs, on-demand as they log in? With Citrix App Layering, application layers can be embedded in the image, or they can be provided based on the user’s identity, as they log in.  Imagine a XenApp server, where each user has a different catalog of applications, and even run different versions of the same application all from the same server. That’s now possible with Elastic Layering, and can help radically reduce the number of images and silos saving on capital and operational costs.
  • Portability: And maybe the icing on the cake is that once an application or OS is in a layer, it’s portable across all major hypervisors and even to the cloud. Thinking about trying the cloud? No longer do you need to manage “yet another image.”  Instead, it’s just a few clicks away, and your OS and apps are instantly available in the cloud. Want to migrate hypervisors to save money? Same story. Truly, this is manage once, deliver everywhere.

So, what makes today so revolutionary isn’t layering itself, as Unidesk has been providing this technology for years. No, what’s really exciting is that tens of thousands of eligible XenApp and XenDesktop customers — which includes global leaders in every major industry — can now experience the power of Citrix App Layering. Moreover, organizations of all sizes—whether standardized on virtualization solutions from Citrix, Microsoft or VMware — can try it free for 60-days. And to top it off, it’s available directly from Citrix Cloud, making it easier to adopt, easier to manage, and ensuring the best possible experience for your users.

Chris Midgley
Sr. Director, Product Strategy
Previously founder, CTO of Unidesk