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Simplified software delivery with Edinburgh Napier University

Simplified software delivery with Edinburgh Napier University
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Prior to implementing AppsAnywhere, Edinburgh Napier University used a basic portal to either install MSIs or run executables in order to deliver software. 

When combined with non-persistent virtual desktops, this method solved a lot of delivery problems but introduced a lot more. For example, when logging out of a desktop, that desktop was destroyed, meaning that every software title must be reinstalled or redeployed on each login.


The challenges without AppsAnywhere

Before AppsAnywhere, Edinburgh Napier University used a combination of imaging, non-persistent VDI, and rudimentary application virtualization to deliver software.

We were previously using Novell ZENworks as a configuration manager for application delivery. There was a portal that students and faculty could use, which would install an MSI or run an executable directly from the network. Not the best solution as some applications are huge and take a long time to install. Installing MSIs is a big task and made imaging more complex than it already is, adding further steps and complexity.

Clem Clarke, Lead Technical Developer, Edinburgh Napier University

  • Non-persistent VDI means that desktops were destroyed on logout, and apps must be reinstalled every login. Limitations introduced by virtual desktops and shared CPU memory running on servers prevented persistent VDI from being utilized.
  • Launching an application either would install an MSI or run an executable directly from the network. This was, at times, an ineffective solution as many software titles were very large and would take a long time to install and become useable. Furthermore, though Edinburgh Napier University didn’t need to build their own MSIs, MSIs often had to be tweaked in Adminstudio to work properly. Installing MSIs is a big task and it made imaging more complex than it already is, adding further steps and complexity.
  • Novell ZENworks was like SCCM and used for full application delivery. This was useful as it allowed slight adjustments to be made after an app was deployed and allowed students and faculty to install without system administrator rights. However, the use of this was limited by the MSI/executable approach as applications couldn’t always be delivered on-demand.
  • This was addressed with VMware ThinApp, a rudimentary application virtualization solution, which was very 'clunky' and 'difficult to use'.

How AppsAnywhere helped

Advancements in VDI technologies along with AppsAnywhere's integrations with leading solutions such as VMware Horizon and Citrix Virtual Desktops made persistent VDI possible, which removed a lot of challenges from Edinburgh Napier University's legacy desktop virtualization estate. The implementation of a better application virtualization solution allowed images to be greatly reduced in size and number to contain only 'essential' apps, freeing up server space for virtual desktop storage. This also alleviated the complex and arduous task of imaging, saving time and resources for IT to utilize in other areas.

Software2 has made it simpler to deliver applications. Instead of going to the AdminStudio to capture an MSI, to build a new MST or having to go to ThinApp to do it, we can just do it all in one place, make sure everybody has the same version across the board and has the same experience every time. We can deliver more on virtual desktops because of this, the capturing process is much better in AppsAnywhere than it is in ThinApp, and we've got consistency. So, almost all our apps now can get to virtual desktop no problem at all.

Clem Clarke, Lead Technical Developer, Edinburgh Napier University

By unifying delivery tools and minimizing the overlap of these tools, Edinburgh Napier University was able to universally reduce software delivery costs and the demand for support. With a more effective application virtualization solution in place, image bloat and VDI sprawl were addressed and greatly reduced by limiting the usage of these technologies to use cases where other delivery methods weren't viable. This ensured students and faculty were able to access network-shared apps from home, on their own device in the most efficient way possible. 

With BYOD enabled and more efficient delivery processes in place, the option to repurpose specialist labs and create 'virtual' labs and open-access learning areas was presented. Open-access learning areas make software access easier and more flexible for students and faculty and allow IT to leverage BYOD and save money on managed hardware. Approaching labs in such a way also allows IT to reduce the square footage of computer labs, saving further costs and diminishing the demand for support.

AppsAnywhere's integration with Cloudpaging made on-demand delivery much more effective and widely viable for Edinburgh Napier University and AppsAnywhere's front-end, 'app store' portal provided 'a better user experience and much nicer portal then ZENworks'