We are all familiar with the benefits of server virtualization - efficient utilization of resources, reduced power, cooling and floor space costs - to name a few. When I begin to discuss application virtualization with a customer, more often that not, I am interrupted and told, "we already have VMWare."
From Wikipedia, "Application virtualization is an umbrella term that describes software technologies that improve portability, manageability and compatibility of applications by encapsulating them from the underlying operating systems on which they are executed."
Virtualized applications are deployed to the desktop, or even a USB drive and operate independently of the operating system. The self-contained virtualized app will have its own registry settings, DLL's and other initializaton files. What are the good use-cases for application virtualizaton?
* Run older versions of software on today's operating system, Vista for example. * Run incompatible versions of software side-by-side. * Protect the underlying operating system from a buggy application. * Improve security by isolating the application from the operating system.
One of my customers has a large desktop support team with a set of applications they regularly use to perform their work. We were able to create virtualized applications on a USB drive that the team can carry. They can plug the USB drive into a machine, peform their work without installing or leaving any code on the machine.
Today's tools make application virtualization incredibly easy and relatively inexpensive. Some analysts estimate that application virtualization can reduce the cost of testing, packaging and supporting an application by as much as 60%.
More information application virtualization is available here: http://www.novell.com/products/zenworks/applicationvirtualization/