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Rollout: Thinstall Virtualization Suite (TVS) 3.0

The Upshot


Claim
Thinstall can virtualize an application and the resources it needs into a single binary, without client software. The virtualized binaries can run in "user mode" on the workstation. Even if an application thinks it needs elevated rights to the registry or file system, it can still run. Changes are written into a sandbox, rather than to the OS.
Context
IT shops spend a fair amount of time testing, deploying and maintaining various applications. Virtualizing an application isolates it from the other software on a user's machine, and eliminates the risk of that application interfering with other programs, files and registry settings.
Credibility
Thinstall Virtualization Suite lives up to its claim. We were able to take several off-the-shelf products and internally-developed applications and turn them into virtual applications with very little effort..

Thinstall Virtualization Suite (TVS)

VMware and Virtual PC let administrators virtualize at the OS level. But a new trend is emerging for app deployment: virtualization at the application level. Thinstall Virtualization Suite (TVS) 3.0 takes your applications virtual, without client-side software or little if any additional server infrastructure.

TVS lets you virtualize the entire application. A program's files, registry settings and virtualization layer are built into a single .EXE file. If the program has more than one .EXE to be started by the end user, a small, shortcut executable file can be created.

By virtualizing software packages, the apps become easier to deploy and manage. A wrapper around the application, files and registry settings isolates it from the OS and other apps. Any changes to the file or registry can be stored temporarily in a sandbox (a user-writeable directory where file and registry changes can be stored) instead of being written back to the actual OS. Because each virtualized app is isolated from the others, it can't cause conflicts. The benefit is reduced integration testing time needed by IT before deploying an app.

Unlike its competitors, such as Microsoft SoftGrid, TVS needs no client on the workstation running the virtualized app. Nor does TVS require the creation of additional infrastructure components. SoftGrid needs a server running Active Directory, IIS Web Server and a Microsoft SQL database to function. A client-based solution provides better control over such issues as license compliance, but can be harder to administer when home users and outside contractors need to use just an app or two. In such cases, Thinstall's approach has the advantage.

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