Application virtualisation technologies can present a real problem for traditional inventory tools
Application Virtualisation can take many forms, Microsoft App-V and VMWare Thinapp to name the bigger vendors, and AppsAnywhere (Formerly Application Jukebox) and even PortableApps are popular in certain spaces.
All these technologies provide a way to ‘encapsulate’ an application in such a way as to make it possible to real time stream, and execute the application - crucially WITHOUT installing it first. For App-V and ThinApp we see this used extensively in the Virtual (and Physical) desktop space – often streaming in applications in real time as the user logs on to their Citrix Desktop.
PortableApps allows an application to be executed from a USB stick – meaning admin rights are not needed – handy for games and Browsers with different settings to the University standard.
AppsAnywhere is often used in Higher Education – where applications that are either free, or where a site/campus agreement covers the software being encapsulated (removing per install license liability). Importantly AppsAnywhere does not require Active Directory access, making it ideal to deploy applications to student laptops which are otherwise un-managed, as well as University managed assets.
All these technologies provide a real problem to traditional Inventory tools such as SCCM:
- The application may not be installed when a logon or scheduled scan takes place.
- The application may only be streamed , when the user executes the application for the first time.
Because the Snow agent monitors application usage all of the time, out of the box, whenever an application is executed, Snow will capture who, which asset and for how long the application was used. This gives vital visibility into what is actually being consumed, and by which faculty/department. Because the snow agent would typically be installed on Managed assets, all staff usage is automatically monitored.
This has the benefit of:
- When campus agreements are due for renewal, actual staff usage determines what versions / vendors are worth renewing, or if a campus license is best value for money.
- Each application use can be cross charged back the Faculty or Department that used it, again meaning complete visibility at a department level – this can drive cost efficiencies, particularly through application rationalisation.
- Showing if older versions of software are not being used – meaning they don’t need to be maintained for Windows 10 migrations, or repackaged with security and patch updates.
Mark Lillywhite, Pre-sales Consultant, Snow Software