A typical VMware App Volumes environment consists of a few key components that interact with each other and external infrastructure.

AppStack

This is a read-only volume containing one or more Windows applications. AppStacks are created by using the App Volumes Manager and the provisioning process. Once provisioned, an individual AppStack or multiple AppStacks can be mapped to a user, a group of users or computers at login, or in real time.

Writable Volume

Optional read/write volume for persisting user-specific information between sessions. Writable volumes can be used to store the following:

  • User installed applications and application settings

  • Application licensing information

  • User and computer profile

  • Data files

Users can have more than one writable volumes assigned to them. However, a user can use only one writable volume at any given time.

App Volumes Manager

App Volumes Manager is a core component that is installed on Windows Server and consists of services that orchestrate application delivery and interface with IT infrastructure.

  • Orchestrates the required infrastructure components such as Storage, Active Directory, and volume attachments.

  • Manages assignments of volumes to users, groups, and target computers.

  • Collects AppStacks and writable volumes usage information.

  • Maintains history of administrative actions.

  • Acts as a broker for the App Volumes agents for automated assignment of applications and writable volumes during desktop startup and user login.

  • Provides graphical user interface to create and manage the environment.

App Volumes Agent

A software component that is installed on computers running supported versions of Windows server for RDSH use cases or Windows desktop operating systems where users receive AppStack and writable volume assignments. The agent runs as a service and utilizes a filter driver to handle application calls and file system redirects to AppStack and writable volume virtual disks. Windows desktops do not have to be members of the domain on which the App Volumes Manager server resides when they are used for AppStack provisioning.

App Volumes Manager Console

Web console for administration and configuration of App Volumes and assignment of AppStacks and writable volumes. Web Console is installed as a part of App Volumes Manager.

App Volumes Database

A Microsoft SQL server database that contains configuration information for AppStacks, writable volumes, users, computers, assignments, and transactions.

App Volumes User

Active Directory (AD) user account or organizational unit (OU) to which AppStacks and writable volumes are assigned.

Storage Group

You can use Storage Groups to automatically replicate AppStacks or distribute writable volumes across many datastores. They are also used to define a group of datastores that should all contain the same AppStacks. Some of the attributes for the group, such as template location and strategy, only apply when using the group for distributing writable volumes. The distribution strategy setting controls how writable volumes are distributed across the group.

  • Spread. Distribute files evenly across all the storage locations. When a file is created, the storage with the most available space is selected.

  • Round Robin. Distribute files by sequentially using the storage locations. When a file is created, the storage with the oldest used time is selected.

You can manage the capabilities of storage groups by selecting required storages and ignoring unwanted or slow-performing storages while mounting volumes. When you mark a storage as Not Attachable, the App Volumes Manager ignores it while mounting volumes.

For example, you can set up two vCenter Server server instances. Each server can have a local storage and shared storage capability. You can mark the slower-performing storage as Not Attachable. This storage is ignored by the App Volumes Manager while mounting volumes and can be used solely for replication of AppStacks.

Provisioning Computer

A computer that includes operating system, any necessary updates and service packs, and has required core applications installed. This computer acts as a master device that is used to install new applications to the AppStack. The provisioning computer must have the App Volumes agent installed and configured to connect to the App Volumes Manager.

Target Computer

A VDI desktop, physical client computer, Remote Desktop Services Host or Citrix XenApp Server where users are logging in to access their applications delivered from the AppStack. The Target Computer must have the App Volumes agent installed and configured to connect to the App Volumes Manager.