By Andrea Abernathy & Stuart Moore

Invented by Unidesk (now Citrix App Layering) over 9 years ago, application layering has emerged as the best way to reduce the effort and number of images required to deliver apps from servers and desktops. It emerged as the clear market leader, with over 1500 customers, it won Best of Citrix Synergy 2016, and, in case you missed the announcement, was acquired by Citrix in January 2017.


The only “full-stack” layering solution that revolutionizes image management with:

  • The best app compatibility of any layering solution, virtualizing all Windows apps right out of the box.
  • Real-time app delivery, the user gets the apps they need when they logon.
  • Complete app portability, across all hypervisors and clouds.
  • A single Windows gold image for all your desktops.

The “Master layering” Masterclass
On the 15th and 16th of February, Lee Bushen ran two very successful Masterclasses on Citrix App Layering, receiving a 92% 4 or 5-star rating. Attended by over 1500 people across EMEA and the US – available to view here – it was packed full of demos, whiteboard, and Q&A sessions, and I am pleased to say featured Cloudhouse. As an ex-XenApp and XenDesktop PM, it was great honor to be invited back to talk on Lee’s Masterclass. With over 700 questions, I am glad I wasn’t a Virtual Desktop Agent this time round!

Citrix App Layering’s popularity

  • Unrivaled application compatibility, with +99.5% success rate, if the app supported the OS it was almost guaranteed to work. Check out Ron Oglesby’s explanation in the Q&A in the Masterclass (he joined Citrix through the Unidesk acquisition).
  • The ability to compose the apps for the desktop on-the-fly when the user logins not only reduces the number of images, but number of machines you need to run.
  • The ease with which Administrators could create and manage those layers; the layers are simple to create – just install your apps as you would on any server or desktop.
  • The management freedom it brought Administrators, freeing up time maintaining all the different images, or preparing images to move to different hypervisors, or clouds.

So how does Citrix App Layering accomplish this?
Citrix App Layering separates the applications from the underlying OS, hypervisor or cloud by creating independent virtual disks, or layers. Application lifecycle and image management are simplified by storing applications in separate app layers, and each application need only be installed and updated once and not multiple times across multiple images. The apps are combined with the required operating system and platform layers to create a server or desktop for use with XenApp or XenDesktop. Combining the app layers with the OS can be done at boot time or in real time at user login with Elastic Layering. Read Manjunatha Gali’s great blog post on Unidesk and how it Streamlines Application Delivery & Lifecycle Management for Citrix customers or see it in action in the Masterclass.

But what if your Apps aren’t compatible with the OS?
What if you find your line of business application that is integrated into other systems, or workflows that process orders, runs POS devices, or manufacturing systems still runs on Server 2003, or XP. Worse, the app wont install and run on Server 2008R2, 2012R2 or the latest Server 2016 and there is no migration path to a version of the app that does? These are application/OS compatibility issues that Unidesk is unable to address because the app needs to be compatible with the target OS. During a poll in the Masterclass, 68% of 334 of people said they had these problems.


A Citrix Ready Solution
Cloudhouse’s Citrix Ready solution offers you a way to migrate these essential business applications to the latest supported, secure operating system and Internet Explorer 11, so that you can use them with the XenApp and XenDesktop 7.13 and Unidesk.

For Windows applications, package the application on XP or Server 2003, and the Container’s OS compatibility and redirection engine for file, registry, process, or networking can take care of:

  • Hard coded dependencies
  • Redirections for incompatible OS
  • Desktop apps that won’t install on server operating systems
  • Isolate the app, or the required runtime, from other applications (optional)

For IE-based applications, package the plugins, runtimes along with required browser, security, and Enterprise /Compatibility mode settings to enable the app to run in the local IE 11 browser without interfering with the user’s general IE 11 browsing experience.

XenApp + Citrix App Layering + Cloudhouse
Now users can enjoy the same fantastic HDX experience for their business apps that they are used to experiencing with their office and productivity applications. Administrators get to deliver all the business apps securely from latest Server 2012 R2 or 2016, and Windows 10 with the convenience of layering solution. Want to learn more about Cloudhouse? Then watch the Masterclass (2hrs in), our video or have a read of our White Paper.

Andrea Abernathy
Product Manager (former Head of Product Management at Unidesk, now Product Manager for Citrix App Layering)

Stuart Moore
Head of Product, Cloudhouse

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