How To

What Is Application Virtualization and When Do You Need It?

June 19, 2023 | min

Administrator utilizes backup and DR solutions in the workplace


Application virtualization is remote access that enables users to interact with deployed apps without installing them physically on their own devices. The concept of virtualization permeates many aspects of the current tech landscape, empowering people to access data and apps from anywhere. By embracing application virtualization within your own business, you can spread the benefits to your internal teams and the end users you serve.

Key Takeaways:

  • Virtualization entails using a hypervisor that provisions many virtual machines (VMs) with resources, allowing multiple users to access an app without installing it on their devices.
  • Virtualizing applications enables speed, mobility, security, and cost-efficiency in app deployment.
  • Choosing to virtualize applications can be particularly beneficial for large companies, companies seeking to expand, or any organization looking to lower costs.

Gain a deeper understanding of application virtualization so you can know when investing in these software and services is the right choice.

How does application virtualization work?

Organizations typically deliver application virtualization and desktop virtualization as a desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) model hosted by a third-party vendor. The application exists within the host server and becomes remotely accessible through virtualization software.

The software creates a VM managed by a hypervisor. The VM receives the computing resources necessary for running the requested application from the physical hardware allocated by the hypervisor. Users can then remotely access the virtualized application and all its features as though it exists on their device. 

Virtualization allows a high volume of users to access an application at once from anywhere, even if an installation only takes place on a single server or set of servers. This is possible through cloud computing and the ability to create many VMs using the resources of a single server.

Application virtualization and desktop virtualization are two separate processes. Virtualizing an entire desktop environment through virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) creates a more flexible and complete desktop experience. Virtualizing specific apps is a more cost-efficient solution when there is solely a demand for those apps.

What are the benefits of application virtualization?

The benefits of virtualizing applications are apparent from the setup stage. Installation is only necessary on the host server, and from there the deployment of the application only requires the distribution of an executable file to the end user. The simplicity and low resource requirements also allow for easy scalability to accommodate a growing number of users.

Each end user can benefit from application virtualization. The concept is synonymous with portability, as practically any device can run a virtualized application, whereas not all devices can handle a full virtual desktop. 

Crashes due to incompatibility between apps are less likely due to the virtual nature of access. Any issues that occur are easy to resolve by support teams that can view the app’s central location.

Upkeep is a simple task where you dispose of outdated apps via central uninstallation. Unexpected errors are easy to address by rolling back the affected application to an earlier version in the server, which will also reflect in virtual instances of the app. When an update is ready to roll out, performing a single patch on the central app is only necessary.

Security is another crucial feature of application virtualization. Apps running in VMs are isolated from one another, as well as from the source operating system. This means any exposure to malware does not threaten the host device or any other VMs.

When should you use application virtualization?

Research from Spiceworks shows that virtualization technology is practically ubiquitous in business. One survey indicates that 92% of companies use server virtualization, while 39% also virtualize individual applications. The number of companies projected to adopt virtualization practices for their applications is on course to exceed 50% in the near future.

The types of companies most likely to rapidly adopt virtualization technology are those with higher numbers of employees. Application virtualization is an increasingly prudent solution for provisioning tools to workers in great numbers across long distances. You can future-proof your operations by planning to virtualize your applications, whether you already have a large workforce or have sights set on eventual growth.

Common use cases for which companies often choose to virtualize their applications include:

  • Reducing hardware provisioning costs
  • Allowing for secure remote access
  • Deploying applications and updates quickly for internal use

If your company stands to benefit from adopting some of the everyday use cases for virtualization, then it may be time to implement it into your IT strategy. 

However, there are some considerable challenges in application virtualization as well. For example, graphics-intensive applications may not run well on all target devices. Any app will struggle to run steadily if the end user has an unreliable connection. Consider if these potential drawbacks will affect your deployment before proceeding. 

Which application virtualization solutions are right for you?

Your organization needs a virtualization solution that is secure and scalable to suit your current and future needs. Your chosen platform should also be highly flexible, allowing you to power workloads running in an on-premises data center or a public cloud.

Nutanix AHV is a virtualization platform allowing simplified management, advanced enterprise capabilities, and low operational costs. AHV also has a built-in hypervisor compatible with legacy applications and cloud-native workloads.

Your application virtualization solution and the vendor who supplies it should work tirelessly to enable seamless remote access for your employees, teammates, and all-important customers. The goal is to provide data and apps to any location, granting the end user a profound sense of freedom.

Learn more about other types of virtualization possible through Nutanix VDI and the role of virtual access in cloud workloads.

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