System Center 2012 Configuration Manager supports the management of virtual applications that are created with Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V). When you use Configuration Manager to manage App-V applications, Configuration Manager takes over the management and streaming components of a typical App-V infrastructure.

When you use Configuration Manager to manage virtual applications, you gain the benefits of using a single management infrastructure. You will also gain the benefits of scalability, deployment, and content distribution features, such as collections and user device affinity, and additional advanced application management features that Configuration Manager provides. App-V also integrates with Configuration Manager features, such as operating system deployment, software and hardware inventory, software metering, and Asset Intelligence to support virtual applications.

To deploy virtual applications to computers, you must have the Configuration Manager client and App-V Client installed on your computers. Client devices can include desktop and portable computers, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) clients. The Configuration Manager and App-V Client software work together to deliver, locate, and launch virtual application packages. The Configuration Manager client manages the delivery of virtual application packages to the App-V Client. The App-V Client runs the virtual application on the client.

Use the information in the following sections to help you plan to integrate your App-V environment with Configuration Manager and Configuration Manager SP1.

For more information about how to create and sequence applications by using App-V, see your App-V documentation.

Supported App-V Versions

Configuration Managersupports the following versions of App-V:

  • App-V 4.6: System Center 2012 Configuration Manager with no service pack and System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1. To use virtual applications in Configuration Manager, client computers must have the App-V 4.6 SP1 client installed. You must also update the App-V Client with the hotfix that is described in the Knowledge Base article 2645225 before you can successfully deploy virtual applications.

  • App-V 5: System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 only.

Steps to Manage App-V Virtual Applications

There are five major steps that you must follow to manage App-V virtual applications:

  • Sequencing - Sequencing is the process of converting an application into a virtual application by using the App-V sequencer.

  • Create Configuration Manager applications – Use the Create Deployment Type Wizard to import the sequenced application into a Configuration Manager deployment type that you can then add to an application. You can also create virtual environments that allow multiple virtual applications to share settings.

  • Distribution – Distribution is the process of making App-V applications available on Configuration Manager distribution points.

  • Deployment – Deployment is the process of making the application available on client computers. This is referred to as streaming in an App-V full infrastructure. Configuration Manager provides two options for the deployment of virtual applications: streaming and download and execute.

Configuration Manager Virtual Application Delivery Methods

Configuration Manager supports two methods for delivery of virtual applications to clients: streaming delivery and local delivery (download and execute):

  • Streaming delivery

    When the App-V Client is managed by Configuration Manager, it supports the streaming of virtual applications through HTTP or HTTPS from a distribution point. Streaming through HTTP or HTTPS is enabled by default and is configured in the distribution point properties dialog box. When you deploy a virtual application to client computers and a user runs the virtual application, the Configuration Manager client contacts a management point to determine which distribution point to use; then, the application is streamed from the distribution point.

  • Local delivery (download and execute)

    When you use this delivery method, the Configuration Manager client first downloads the entire virtual application package into the Configuration Manager client cache, and then it instructs the App-V Client to stream the application from the Configuration Manager cache into the App-V cache. If you deploy a virtual application to client computers and its content is not in the App-V cache, then the App-V Client streams the application content from the Configuration Manager client cache into the App-V cache, and then it runs the application. After the application runs successfully, you can configure the Configuration Manager client to delete any older versions of the package at the next deletion cycle, or to persist them in Configuration Manager client cache.

    If you select the option Load content into App-V cache before launch when you configure a deployment type, the App-V package content is loaded in the App-V cache when the application is deployed and not when the application is run.

When you decide which Configuration Manager virtual application delivery method to use, compare the reduced disk space requirement for streaming delivery against the guaranteed availability of App-V applications by using local delivery. The increased client disk space that is required for local delivery might be worthwhile so that users always have the application available from any location.

Use the information in the following table to help you decide the best delivery method.

Delivery method Advantages Disadvantages

Streaming delivery

This method uses standard network protocols to stream package content from distribution points.

Program shortcuts for virtual applications invoke a connection to the distribution point, so the virtual application delivery is on demand.

This method works well for clients with high-bandwidth connections to the distribution points.

Updated virtual applications distributed throughout the enterprise are available as clients receive policy that informs them that the current version is superseded and they download only the changes from the previous version.

Access permissions are defined at the distribution point to prevent users from accessing unauthorized applications or packages.

Virtual applications are not streamed until the user runs the application for the first time. In this scenario, a user might receive program shortcuts for virtual applications and then disconnect from the network before running the virtual applications for the first time. If the user tries to run the virtual application while the client is offline, the user sees an error and will not be able to run the virtualized application because a Configuration Manager distribution point is not available to stream the application. The application will be unavailable until the user reconnects to the network and runs the application.

To avoid this bad user experience, you can use the local delivery method for virtual application delivery to clients, or you can enable the Internet-based client management for streaming delivery.

Local delivery

The standard distribution point functionality is used to download the package by using Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS).

Virtual application package contents are delivered locally to the client, which means that users can run them when their computer is not connected to the network.

This method is suitable for slow or unreliable network connections and for computers that only occasionally connect to the network.

Configuration Manager uses Remote Differential Compression (RDC) to send to clients only the bytes within the files that have changed when virtual application package content is updated. The Configuration Manager client uses RDC to build a new version of a virtual application package based on the current version of the package and any changes sent to the client.

This method provides application resiliency for mobile users or disconnected users. Administrators can choose to persist the package in the Configuration Manager cache after delivery if the virtual application was deployed with an Install action. The package in the Configuration Manager client cache serves as a local, reliable streaming source for the App-V Client to pull the package into its cache.

Disk space equaling up to twice the size of the virtual application package is required on the client when the virtual application is persisted in the Configuration Manager cache.

You can also preinstall virtual applications on a computer and then create an image of that computer for deployment to other computers. However, if the virtual application package was created at a different site, then the binary delta replication will not be used to download updates to the application. This option can be useful in a virtual desktop infrastructure when you want applications to be available immediately instead of downloading the applications after the user logs on.

Migrating from an App-V Infrastructure to a Configuration Manager and App-V Infrastructure

Use the following table to help you plan a migration from an existing App-V infrastructure to virtual application management with Configuration Manager.

Step More information

Examine your current virtual applications to choose the applications that you want to migrate into your Configuration Manager infrastructure.

No additional information.

Evaluate the users and devices to which the virtual applications will be deployed.

Create Configuration Manager collections to group together the users and devices to which you want to deploy the virtual applications. For more information, see Collections in Configuration Manager.

For Configuration Manager SP1 only:

Migrate App-V 5 connection groups to Configuration Manager SP1 virtual environments.

For more information, see the Migrating App-V 5 Connection Groups to Configuration Manager Virtual Environments (Configuration Manager SP1 Only) section in this topic.

Investigate to find out if any of your virtual applications exist as full applications in your Configuration Manager infrastructure.

For easier management, you can add the virtual application as a new deployment type to the existing full application. For more information about how to create deployment types, see How to Create Deployment Types in Configuration Manager.

Create applications to replace your existing App-V packages.

For more information about how to create Configuration Manager applications, see Introduction to Application Management in Configuration Manager and How to Create Applications in Configuration Manager.

Configuration Manager begins to manage virtual applications on a client after the first deployment of a virtual application. After this, all App-V applications on the computer must be managed by Configuration Manager.

No additional information.

Distribute the content to the appropriate distribution points to enable local delivery of applications.

For more information, see Content Management in Configuration Manager.

Deploy the application to Configuration Manager clients.

If the App-V application was created with an earlier version of the sequencer that does not create a manifest XML file, you can open it and save it in a newer version of the sequencer to create the file. This file is required to deploy virtual applications with Configuration Manager.App-V supports the virtual application packages that are created with the SoftGrid 4.1 SP1 or 4.2 versions of the Sequencer.If the applications were previously installed locally, you must uninstall them before you deploy a virtual version of the application.

For more information, see How to Deploy Applications in Configuration Manager.

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager no longer supports using packages and programs that contain virtual applications. When you migrate from Configuration Manager 2007 to System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, Configuration Manager converts these packages into applications.

Configuration Manager 2007 advertisements are converted into the following deployment types:

  • Migrating App-V packages with no advertisement: One deployment type that uses the default deployment type settings.

  • Migrating App-V packages with one advertisement: One deployment type that uses the same settings as the Configuration Manager 2007 advertisement.

  • Migrating App-V packages with multiple advertisements: A deployment type for each Configuration Manager 2007 advertisement, that uses the settings for that advertisement.

For more information, see Planning for the Migration of Configuration Manager Objects to System Center 2012 Configuration Manager.

Migrating App-V 5 Connection Groups to Configuration Manager Virtual Environments (Configuration Manager SP1 Only)

App-V virtual environments in Configuration Manager allow virtual applications that you have deployed to share the same file system and registry on client computers. This means that unlike standard virtual applications, these applications can share data with each other. Virtual environments are created or modified on client computers when the application is installed or when clients next evaluate their installed applications. Virtual environments are similar to connection groups in standalone App-V 5.

When you migrate connection groups from standalone App-V 5 to Configuration Manager virtual environments, you must ensure that the connection groups that already exist on client computers are managed correctly by Configuration Manager, and that the user's environment within those connection groups is preserved.

Use the following procedure to help you successfully convert App-V 5 connection groups into Configuration Manager virtual environments.

To convert App-V 5 connection groups to Configuration Manager virtual environments

Alternatively, you can delete all connection groups from the App-V Client before you begin to deploy applications with Configuration Manager. However, this will lose any settings that users might have saved in App-V connection groups.

Dynamic Suite Composition in App-V 4.6

Dynamic Suite Composition is a feature that provides the ability to define one virtual application package as having a dependency on another virtual application package. When the application is run, the App-V Client hosts the primary package and the dependent package in the same virtual environment for the application.

To use this feature with Configuration Manager, both packages must be deployed and registered with the App-V Client. To ensure that dependent package content is hosted locally on the client computer, configure the application deployment for local delivery (download and execute).

For more information about the App-V Dynamic Suite Composition feature, see your App-V documentation.

Converting App-V 4.6 Applications to App-V 5 Applications (Configuration Manager SP1 Only)

The application package format has changed between App-V 4.6 and App-V 5. Applications that have been sequenced by using App-V 4.6 are no longer supported. However, App-V 5 has a package converter tool that you can use to convert applications. For more information, see your App-V 5 documentation.

Use the following steps to convert App-V 4.6 applications to App-V 5 applications:

  1. Convert or re-sequence the App-V 4.6 packages into the App-V 5 format.

  2. Deploy the App-V 5 client to computers in your hierarchy.

  3. Create new applications that contain deployment types for your App-V 5 applications, and create supersedence rules to supersede the App-V 4.6 applications.

  4. Create virtual environments as required.

  5. Deploy the new App-V 5 applications to computers.

User and Deployment Configuration Files (Configuration Manager SP1 )

User and deployment configuration files contain settings that control how an application behaves. You can use these files to change application settings without re-sequencing the application.

A typical App-V 5 application might contain the following files:

  • An application package (.appv) file.

  • A user configuration file.

  • A deployment configuration file.

The user configuration file contains settings that apply only to the logged on user. You could, for example, edit the configuration files to change the information about the application shortcut that will be deployed to users. You can also create a Configuration Manager application with multiple deployment types, and each deployment type can contain a different user configuration file and use requirement rules to ensure that these are installed for the relevant users.

The deployment configuration file contains settings that apply to the computer, such as registry settings. The file can also contain user settings, which will be applied to all users.

If you want to deploy App-V 5 virtual applications with Configuration Manager, all three files must be present in the same folder when you create the App-V 5 deployment type. If there are multiple files in the folder, Configuration Manager will use the most recent.

For more information about user and deployment configuration files, see your App-V 5 documentation.

App-V Local Interaction

In some application deployment scenarios, some applications are installed locally on client computers and other applications are deployed as virtual applications to the same client computer. By default, the applications that were locally installed cannot see or communicate directly with virtualized applications. This is the intended behavior of the application isolation that is provided by App-V. Local Interaction is a feature of the App-V Client that you can enable for each application to allow locally installed applications that run on a client computer to see and communicate with virtualized applications. Configuration Manager and App-V fully support local interaction.

For more information about the App-V Local Interaction feature, see your App-V documentation.

App-V 5 Shared Content Store

The App-V 5 Shared Content Store feature is supported by Configuration Manager SP1. For more information about this feature, see your App-V documentation.

Monitoring Virtual Applications

Use the information in this section to plan how to monitor App-V applications in Configuration Manager.

Virtual Application Reports

Log Files

See Also