Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thinstall/ThinApp, SoftGrid MS AppVirt, etc

Why does anyone still "package" software? I'm really struggling to understand this. After getting dunked headfirst into SoftGrid, and then diving (on my own) into Thinstall, I changed jobs and am back into the world of software packaging and deployment. The new place relies on Altiris as their management platform. We also use Wise for packaging. Physical reference clients. Ugh. It's a paycheck and I really need it so I have to dive in and make it to the other side. Sinking is not an option for me right now.

But I can't see how anyone would still choose MSI/MSP/MST packaging and repackaging over sequencing once they've given it a real thorough try. Does Application Virtualization (AV) solve all problems? No. Nothing does. But it solves many more problems than it creates or promulgates. The biggest problem is solves is time. It's just quicker on average to sequence *most* applications than to repackage them. And the process of local encapsulation solves huge numbers of problems as well.

Everytime I hear a package engineer complain about pushing out yet another JRE or .NET update I roll my eyes upward and think "why not SoftGrid/Thinstall?" but for many environments there's just no real opportunity to get such an idea off the ground without MAJOR effort and buy-in.

One of the biggest obstacles comes from the vendors themselves. Microsoft shot themself in the foot by tying SoftGrid to MDOP and Software Assurance (desktop only). VMware didn't really do anything overt to hinder Thinstall but they sure haven't been vigorously marketing it either. Sort of "oh yeah, it's another goody we have" and off they go skipping down the path to marketville. Vigorous marketing is not only a good idea, it's downright MANDATORY in this economy. I'm shocked to see how many companies are languishing in lackluster figures while never really putting muscle into their marketing efforts. VMware is putting everything into their hypervisor and infrastructure failover/redundancy products. The desktop (even VDI) is getting second class treatment. Microsoft is doing the same with Hyper-V and SCVMM over SoftGrid. If either of them would just drop their gloves and GIVE it away (or make it stupidly cheap) our world would be much better off. Progress is just too slow to happen sometimes.
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