VMware App Volumes provides a system to deliver applications to desktops through virtual disks. Applications are bundled in AppStacks and delivered by attaching a standard VMDK file to a virtual machine. You can centrally manage the applications with the App Volumes Manager and there is no need to modify the desktops or individual applications. Applications delivered using App Volumes look and feel natively installed and you can update or replace the applications in real time.

All applications are provisioned during login time and App Volumes users have a persistent user experience wherein they can install their own applications and have them persist across sessions.

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

Table 1. App Volumes Components



App Volumes Administrator

Active Directory (AD) or organizational unit (OU) account. User must have local administrator privileges.

App Volumes Manager

Web-based interface integrated with Active Directory (AD) and vSphere. Consists of services that orchestrate application delivery and interface the vSphere environment. You can use App Volumes Manager for the following tasks:

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

  • Collect AppStacks and Writable Volumes usage information.

  • Maintain a history of administrative actions.

  • Automate assignment of applications and Writable Volumes for agents during desktop startup and user login.

See Install App Volumes Manager and Configuring App Volumes Manager.

App Volumes database

A Microsoft SQL or SQL Server Express database that contains configuration information for AppStacks, Writable Volumes, and users. See Software Requirements.

App Volumes agent

Software installed on all Windows desktops where AppStacks and Writable Volumes are assigned. See Install App Volumes Agent.


This is a read-only volume containing one or more Windows applications. 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 and to computers only at the time of startup. See Working with AppStacks.

Writable Volume

Read and write volume for persisting user-specific information between sessions. You can use Writable Volumes to store the following data:

  • User installed applications and application settings

  • Application licensing information

  • User and computer profile

  • Data files


Users can have more than one Writable Volume assigned to them. For details about using Writable Volumes and restrictions, see Working with Writable Volumes.

Provisioning Desktop

A clean virtual machine that contains the necessary applications for installation into AppStacks. The desktop must have the App Volumes agent installed and configured to connect to the App Volumes Manager. See Provisioning and Assigning AppStacks and Best Practices for Provisioning Virtual Machines and Applications.

Target Computer

A VDI desktop, physical client computer, Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Host or Citrix XenApp Server where users log 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.

VMware vCenter Server

App Volumes uses vCenter Server to connect to resources within the vSphere environment. See Configuring a Machine Manager.

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 storage and ignoring unwanted or slow-performing storages while mounting volumes. When you mark a storage as Not Attachable, the App Volumes Manager ignores the storage while mounting volumes.

For example, you can set up two vCenter 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.