Ever since Citrix’s bold announcement that we had acquired Unidesk and the product’s subsequent re-release as Citrix App Layering in April, my colleagues at Citrix Consulting Services and I have been inundated with questions from customers about how Citrix App Layering can streamline their application and image management workflows. We have been equally excited about the opportunities and options it unlocks for our customers. As such, I wanted to share a few of the lessons learned in the first few months of Citrix App Layering’s maiden voyage.

Think of the Possibilities…  There are lots of ways that you can use Citrix App Layering to benefit your workspace delivery strategy, outside of “reducing the number of base images you have to maintain for your non-persistent environment.” Two quick examples:

  • Bursting to the cloud, cloud-based DR, and full-on cloud migrations are key business priorities everywhere. The Platform Layer makes it easy to take your on-prem PVS or MCS images to the Cloud without having to separately build and manage them.
  • Have a few pesky XenApp silos, each hosting a separate “one-off” app, that are thick-built because you have too few servers in each to justify the extra images you’d have to manage? As long as the applications can be delivered as Elastic Layers, you can deploy the baseline server image with PVS or MCS as a Layered Image and map the right App Layers to the right machine accounts (you can deploy Elastic Layers to users and/or machines) to silo the apps (if you even need to!).

It’s Not All About Image Count. Your business goal is NOT to reduce the number of gold images in your environment, which seems counterintuitive, since image sprawl can be a major operational challenge in any non-persistent environment. But bear with me here. Reducing your image count is one possible technical approach (and really, the only approach afforded by most application layering products) to the underlying business challenge of reducing the total amount of time you spend managing apps and images. With Citrix App Layering, not only is it possible to reduce your image count (and total time managing images) leveraging Elastic Layers, with Layered Images, the images you have take less effort to update and manage (only applying Windows Updates to your OS Layer, only updating antivirus definitions on your antivirus layer, only updating Adobe Reader once in your Adobe Reader layer – you get the idea). In sum, don’t use “image count” as the main measure of success in your Citrix App Layering project, since Layered Images allow you to cut your effort even if you don’t cut your total number of images.

Put Each Application in a Separate App Layer. As a rule of thumb, you should be putting each application into a separate layer. I like to delineate this based on how you’d update the app. For example, if you have a suite of medical apps installed as a group through the same package, that would go in the same layer. If one of your apps has a prerequisite that may be updated separately, they should each get their own layer. While this takes a slightly larger initial time investment to create the layers (I’ve gotten the question, “Why can’t I just put all my core apps that need to go on every machine into one layer?” several times), it saves you operational time down the road.  For example, if you have a major version upgrade of one of the apps you bundled into the same layer and desire a “clean” install, you’d have to remake (and re-test) the entire layer, vs. just re-installing that app.

This is just a high-level overview of a few of the key lessons we’ve learned that can benefit you as you start investigating Citrix App Layering as an addition to your strategy for application and image management.

If you want some more information on these and more, please join Niraj Patel and me for a free webinar on July 19th at 9AM and 2PM EST. There will be a live Q&A session at the end where you can pick our brains on anything Citrix App Layering — after all, who doesn’t like a little free consulting 😉

Streamline Operations with Citrix App Layering: REGISTER TODAY!

Feel free to drop a line below if there are any additional App Layering-related topics you’d like to see covered.

Dan Morgan
Enterprise Architect
Citrix Consulting Services