What Is Application Virtualization and Can It Help You?

Application virtualization is a viable solution for enterprises who’d like to facilitate remote workers and employees working from home with access to heavy-duty applications without:

  • Needing to install it on the device
  • Requiring an expensive physical device that fulfills the application’s requirement

Yet, what actually is application virtualization, and how can it help your business?

In this post, we will discuss all you need to know about application virtualization: what it is, how it works, and how it can benefit your business and your workers.

Without further ado, let us begin right away.

What Is Application Virtualization?

Application virtualization, in a nutshell, is an encapsulation process that encapsulates a computer application from the Operating System (OS) on which it is executed. Basically, application virtualization deceives the application that it is currently interfacing directly with the underlying OS (as it is supposed to), while actually, that’s not the case.

Instead, in the application virtualization process, a virtualization layer or framework is inserted between the application and the OS. This virtualization layer replaces a portion of the runtime environment that is traditionally provided by the OS, but in the eyes of an end-user, the application runs and interacts like it’s natively run on the endpoint device (i.e., a tablet or thin client.) 

As with traditional applications, end-users can interact with the application window in real-time with standard keyboard and mouse (or touchscreen) operations. While there may be subtle differences (i.e., lag or latency), application virtualization provides end-users with a seamless experience just as they would with native applications. 

With the virtualization layer diverting the application’s processes into a single file instead of many dispersed across the underlying OS (as it happened with traditional apps), application virtualization allows the app to be easily run on a different device, including devices with previously incompatible OS. 

Application Virtualization VS Desktop Virtualization

The terms “desktop virtualization” and “application virtualization” are often used interchangeably. However, while they are indeed deeply related and often used in conjunction with each other, they are not one and the same. 

Desktop virtualization refers to the process of virtualizing desktop OSs (Operating Systems), so end-users can access a full desktop experience remotely from another device. 

On the other hand, application virtualization refers to the process of insulating running applications from the underlying desktop (so the desktop may not be virtualized.)

While at the surface, both desktop virtualization and application virtualization may seem to have the same purpose, there are actually significant differences between the two, and one cannot be used as a sufficient replacement for the other.

Below are some of the key differences between the two: 

Desktop Virtualization DIFFERENCES Application Virtualization
In general, more flexible and versatile Versatility Lesser level of freedom in comparison to desktop virtualization
Complete desktop experience (but may not include the desired application). User Experience The actual desktop experience varies from application to application.

Experience is personalized to make it application-specific

Maintaining and updating applications are more difficult. Even simple modifications may require redeployment of the application’s image to all desktop instances, Maintenance Simpler and easier maintenance of applications. IT department, for example, can update the application with a security patch, and the end-user may not notice the maintenance/update period.
Can be expensive, depending on the use case. Cost More cost-effective in most use cases.
Applications are dependent on the underlying OS.  OS Dependency Application is fully detached from the underlying OS.
Complete virtualization will involve more data transfer and resources usage. Data and Resources Usage Transfers less data and uses fewer resources. Won’t burden the hardware too much.
Access control and authentication management are comparatively difficult Access Control Access control and authentication management are comparatively easier


Benefits and Drawbacks of Application Virtualization

Pros of Application Virtualization

As we can see, application virtualization offers some unique benefits over desktop virtualization and other alternatives, and below are some of the most important benefits of application virtualization to consider:

  • A single installation of applications. In established application virtualization, you’ll need to install the desired application to the server once, which can then be virtualized to as many devices as required. This means engineers don’t have to install the application on every device in the office, saving them more time and resources in the process.
  • Independence from OS. Virtualized applications are independent of the underlying OS, so you can use the application on any endpoint device regardless of the OS used.
  • Portability and versatility. Applications that have been successfully virtualized can be used anywhere and on any device. Important data and resources are stored on the server, so it remains secure even when an endpoint device is stolen or lost.
  • Easier deployment. With application virtualization, it’s much easier to deploy the desired application for clients or third-party partners. In most cases, you’ll only need to send a link to the virtual application, and they can access it with just a single click.
  • Easier updates and rollback. You can easily update the virtualized applications from a single location; no need to install updates on each endpoint device. On the other hand, if the application is not working as expected, it’s easy to revert it to the previous stable state. When you need to get rid of applications, uninstallation in each endpoint device is also not required.
  • Easier support. IT department can easily monitor the application’s performance from a central location, and any issues can be solved centrally.

Drawbacks of Application Virtualization

Although application virtualization offers so many different benefits, the main drawback is the fact that not all applications can be virtualized with the method:

  • Virtualized applications always require the end-user to have a fast and reliable connection to the server, or else user experience may be hindered when using the application
  • Applications that involve heavy graphics processing and video rendering can lag during the rendering process
  • Some applications must integrate with the local underlying OS, especially solutions that require continuous access to local data, such as anti-virus solutions.
  • System monitoring and analytics solutions may not be as accurate with virtualized applications, so troubleshooting can be challenging.
  • There may be issues when using peripheral devices (i.e., printers) with virtualized applications. 

Wrapping Up

 V2 Cloud offers a simple but affordable way to set up and implement a cloud-based virtualized application solution for your business. 

Leveraging virtualized applications can allow businesses to save a lot in upfront investment and maintenance costs while ensuring centralized security to protect confidential data.

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