System Center Configuration Manager 2007 : Integrating Virtual Applications (part 1) - What Is SoftGrid?

12/24/2013 12:56:00 AM

Moving forward, Microsoft is wrapping its new direction for packaging around another Microsoft technology—SoftGrid—and its integration with Configuration Manager 2007.

1. What Is SoftGrid?

On July 7, 2006, Microsoft completed the acquisition of a company called Softricity. Softricity provided an application virtualization solution that Microsoft has rebranded as Microsoft SoftGrid.

SoftGrid provides the ability to virtualize applications running on a desktop. The virtualized application does not install on the client system. These applications are streamed to the client, requiring only SoftGrid client installation to the client system. SoftGrid deployments exist in situations where the application cannot run on the standard client operating system, or where multiple versions of a single application need to exist on the same system but cannot due to conflicts.

A SoftGrid Example

Consider an environment that needs to run Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007 on the same client system. There are several ways to accomplish this:

  • Have the users install the software locally on their system.

  • Use ConfigMgr to deploy both software packages.

    Each of these approaches includes dealing with any potential conflicts between the applications.

  • Let SoftGrid virtualize the application.

    This results in both applications packaged and available to the users, but not physically deployed to the client system. The client still sees the icons for each of the programs, and they run as if installed locally to the system—without actually going through the installation process.

How SoftGrid Works

SoftGrid runs applications in a siloed environment using virtualized versions of the operating system components, including the Registry, files, fonts, INI settings, COM configurations, embedded services, and environment variables. This siloed approach means that applications do not install directly into the client system. If the user were to open up the Registry on his or her workstation, there would not be any Registry settings for Microsoft Word, even though there is an icon for Word on the desktop and Word runs as if it was a locally installed application.

SoftGrid provides this functionality through a client- and server-based configuration. The SoftGrid architecture uses a SoftGrid Virtual Application Server for delivering applications, and it uses a client that installs on those systems that will have applications deployed.

SoftGrid-defined applications use a process called sequencing. Sequencing defines how a standard application will install and function as a virtualized application.

When using virtual applications with ConfigMgr, you must deploy both the ConfigMgr client and the App-V client to those client systems for the virtual applications to work on these systems.

App-V 4.5

Microsoft released the first Microsoft-branded version of the product formerly known as SoftGrid in 2008, naming it Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5 (App-V 4.5 for short).

You can get App-V 4.5 several ways:

  • Through the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/enterprise/products/mdop.aspx)

  • As part of Microsoft Application Virtualization for Terminal Services (http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/appv/terminalsvcs.mspx)

You can take applications sequenced using App-V 4.5 and deploy them as virtual applications with ConfigMgr 2007. Additional information on App-V 4.5 is available at http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/appv/default.mspx, and the App-V 4.5 FAQ is located at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/appvirtualization/cc664494.aspx.

Integration with SMS/Configuration Manager

When Microsoft added SoftGrid to its product line, the functionality crossings between SMS and SoftGrid were significant:

  • One of the core functions of SMS was to deploy applications

  • SoftGrid’s core function is to provide virtualized applications

Configuration Manager 2007 Release 2 (R2) provides integration between these two programs such that you can manage App-V virtualized applications from Configuration Manager 2007.

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