Yes, that’s right – the award-winning AppDNA product is now available in its entirety to Citrix XenDesktop or XenApp customers who have purchased the Platinum edition of either XenApp or XenDesktop and have active SA! That means you now have full access to the power of the market-leading product for assessing compatibility of your Windows applications with any version of Windows desktop, Windows Server, XenApp,XenDesktop, and App-V. We also threw in compatibility assessment for web apps with different versions of IE and Firefox. And as if that weren’t enough, we provide script automation tools to automate your decision-making, and an API to fit this product right into your workflow! And just in case it is too complicated, we have added guided solution wizards that automatically configure AppDNA so that it can tell you very simply whether your apps are going to work with XenDesktop or XenApp, and if not, what your other FlexCast options are.
What has changed since XenDesktop 7?
Last year we offered Platinum XenDesktop and XenApp customers the option to have unlimited use of the XenApp compatibility tests in AppDNA. That was a pretty limited use case, and many of you told us so very clearly. We listened, and with XenDesktop 7.5 and XenApp 7.5, we have now changed AppDNA 7.5 to permit access to any feature, for an unlimited number of applications, provided you can point AppDNA at a valid Platinum license with a valid SA maintenance contract. Pretty good deal, right?
Here is a a screenshot showing the result of activating AppDNA 7.5 with a Platinum XD/XA license. See that the ‘Available’ licenses column shows ‘Unlimited’ for each component of AppDNA.
So what can I use AppDNA for again?
AppDNA has a number of uses, all centered around preparing applications for deployment, as well as coping with changing OS’s, master images, and generating MSI’s and App-V sequences for real world use.
- Migration Project Estimation
- Migration Project Tracking
- Adding new Apps one-at-at-time
- Process Automation
- Fixing Incompatible Apps
Let’s briefly go through them, one-by-one.
1. Migration Project Estimation
Start by importing a representative sample of your applications into AppDNA, or all of them if you have time! AppDNA analyzes the applications against all of the algorithms that we have written. If you want to make it more accurate, analyze your custom OS image also, along with its patches and other settings that makes it unique to you. AppDNA gives the results of the analysis in the Effort Calculator for each technology for which you have chosen. This simple report estimates the time and cost that it will take to fix and prepare the apps in the sample you give it. If you feel your costs are lower or higher than what we have estimated, go right ahead and modify the numbers we use – they are in a simple spreadsheet format. You can also scale up the results to an actual number of applications that you need to address. For instance, if you analyzed only 30 apps, but you really have to migrate 1000, Effort Calculator will do the scaled-up estimate for you.
You can use the Effort Calculator to not only estimate the amount of work to be done and the time it will take for your own team, but you can also use this as preparation for outsourcing to your favorite partner. Be assured that the partner will also be using AppDNA, so you are at a negotiating disadvantage if you don’t use it!
2. Migration Project Tracking
Many customers use an internal asset management system to keep track of all their corporate assets, and apps are no exception. AppDNA allows you to upload the unique identifier from your asset management system into AppDNA, and it is automatically included in all reports. Additionally you can create extra data fields and attach them to each app, such as the name of the app owner, the cost center code that is paying for it, the status of the app, and even the name of the persons assigned to fix the app, test it, and publish it. This makes it much easier to present reports that are really meaningful to the app owners, and are traceable throughout their life inside AppDNA.
3. Adding new Apps one-at-at-time
While AppDNA was originally built to handle thousands of apps moving through a migration project together, it is equally good at home assessing just one new app that is being added to your environment. Especially when you use the SDK, you can incorporate AppDNA’s assessment right into your workflow process, so that you can reduce the time it takes to add the new app as quickly as possible– this is a major source of irritation to many business units, who often want to add a new app for use in a week or so, only to find that the IT process will take a month or more.
Tests include assessing whether the new app will be compatible with your master OS image, and whether it will play well together with other apps in a shared image.
4. Process Automation
AppDNA offers a wealth of methods for automating your app preparation processes. It has a scripting engine that allows you to load apps from various well-known app repositories such as Microsoft Configuration Manager (SCCM), Novell Zenworks or Matrix42. You can use the scripts to call converters on the fly, such as converting an App-V sequence from the 4.6 format to the 5.0 format during the import process using the Microsoft converter. There is a ‘What-if’ decision making engine built into the product (we call it ‘Forward Path’), where for instance you can choose to call the App-V sequencer automatically if the application is assessed as being suitable for App-V, but if not, you can call the MSI packager instead. You can use it to send notification emails, or to call another program externally. We have even created a script that uploads the output to a cloud service for packaging and sequencing using an FTP server – all automatically!
As you might have guessed, you don’t have to start from scratch to write the most commonly used scripts. Citrix supplies some scripts out of the box with support, whereas others that have been written by consultants or customers are available free of charge without support. These are all modifiable to suit your particular needs.
A nice touch is that you can use the scripts to calculate the cost of each fix, and build in your own overheads. In this way you can generate a report that you can take to your Finance folks to get extra funding, with lots of detailed backup as to why you need the money.
And of course if you prefer using compiled code instead of scripts, use our C++ API’s that are part of our SDK!
5. Fixing Incompatible Apps
Actually AppDNA doesn’t fix any apps itself, but it tells you (or your favorite specialist partner) what to do to fix them, if that is needed. We give you detailed information on what the issue is, where to find out more about the problem, and if we know that there is a fix, we either generate it on-the-fly for you, or tell you how to do it e.g. for creating a shim. Yes – you read that right – AppDNA can actually generate MST’s (Transforms) on the fly, which you then add to your MSI file with your favorite packaging product. We generate MST’s instead of patches so that you won’t invalidate the license on any packaged apps by modifying the vendor’s install package (yes, we try to think of everything!).
Sometimes an application calls a library which is no longer present, such as the GINA authentication library that was discontinued with Windows 7. In these cases we will tell you the plain truth – you can’t run this application. You will either have to get a new version from the vendor, or choose a replacement application. If it is homegrown, then you are armed with the exact request to make to your development team to get it fixed.
Since AppDNA reports are pretty full of technical detail, we have also introduced guided solution wizards. These automatically configure AppDNA for you, and just give you a simple summary report describing your situation and our recommendations. The first solution that we have provided will assess the apps you might want to move from older XenDesktop or XenApp versions, and compares them with a ‘best practice’ configuration on XenDesktop or XenApp 7.5. A second solution assesses whether a single new app is going to be compatible with your existing XenDesktop or XenApp 7.5 environment, including assessing compatibility with the apps you have already installed there. These guided solutions are aimed at the busy XenDesktop or XenApp administrator.
Where are we going in the future?
As many of our larger customers have told us after they have used AppDNA for a while, the information you gather with AppDNA over time becomes really valuable. Change any component, and you can quickly assess the impact on your apps, which after all, are what drives your business. With this in mind, we want to extend the range of tests we do to accommodate more of the typical change events in the XenDesktop or XenApp administrator’s life, such as applying patches, changing GPO settings, or upgrading to the latest version of a Windows or Citrix release.
We are also aware that many customers have multiple images that they need to maintain and test with each change, but they often do not have the time or resources to do that. We want to make that process much more predictable too.
We have lots more ideas. If you would like to contribute some also, I would be happy to hear them – just drop me an email. One thing is certain – AppDNA itself will always be changing!
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