VMware App Volumes provides a system to deliver applications to desktops through virtual disks. Applications 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 Programs are packaged 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
Component Description
App Volumes Administrator or User Active Directory (AD) or organizational unit (OU) account to which Application Packages and Writable Volumes are assigned. 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 Application Packages 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 the Configuring App Volumes Manager in the administration guide.
App Volumes database A Microsoft SQL or SQL Server Express database that contains configuration information for Application Packages, Writable Volumes, and users. See Software Requirements.
App Volumes agent Software installed on all Windows desktops where Application Packages and Writable Volumes are assigned. See Install App Volumes Agent.
Application An Application represents a collection of packaged versions of that Application. Users, Groups, Computers, or OUs (Organizational Units) can be entitled to receive a current Package or be assigned to a specific Package.
Package A Package stores one or more Programs required for an Application to run. A single Package can be delivered to multiple computers and one or many users.
Writable Volume Writable Volumes provide storage for application profile settings, documents, and installed applications. The mode of storage is determined by the template that is selected during creation.

Users can have more than one Writable Volume assigned to them. For more information about using Writable Volumes, see the VMware App Volumes Administration Guide at VMware Docs.

Programs Programs are installed during the packaging process. When an Application is assigned and a Package is delivered to a desktop, the Programs are then visible inside Windows under Programs and Features and available from the Start Menu.
Packaging Desktop A clean virtual machine that contains the necessary programs for installation into Application Packages. The desktop 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 (RDS) Host or Citrix XenApp Server where users log in to access their applications delivered from the Package. 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 section in the App Volumes administration guide.
Storage Group You can use Storage Groups to automatically replicate Application Packages or distribute Writable Volumes across many datastores. They are also used to define a group of datastores that should all contain the same Application Packages. 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 Application Packages.