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Controlling Access to Installed Applications in a Virtual Desktop

Install, stream, host, Oh My!!! 

Many of you have heard me talk about the different ways to deliver applications into a virtual desktop: installing, streaming, hosting and VM-hosting.  As with all options in life, each one of these has their pros/cons.  However, I recently found a way to remove one of the cons out of the equation for installed applications.

Although we like to say “No” to installing applications, for some organizations and applications it might still makes sense. It is easier (because we are used to it), installing supports every application, and it gives the fastest application launch time compared to any other option.  My recommendation has been to install your common applications in your golden desktop image.  If everyone needs the applications, then just install it to give the users the fastest experience possible. 

Makes sense so far. But what about those applications that we want to run on the desktop but do not stream?  We would install them. But unfortunately, when you install an application into a desktop image, everyone who uses that image will see the application – D’oh!  This is probably not something most people will want to happen.  Why am I seeing this application if I don’t need it? Most administrators when faced with this situation, would take the most logical course of action… Build a new desktop image for a particular group of users.  Sounds reasonable, but this now requires you to maintain a different image with additional locally installed applications.  The maintenance requirements starts to increase exponentially. 

BUT, what if you could use a single image and put all of your installed applications into that image while still allowing the users to see only what they need to see?  Seems like we could reduce the number of desktop images.  It is possible and it can be summed up in two works: Published Content.

Published Content is a little used feature in XenApp. Instead of publishing applications, you essentially publish content which are links, URLs, shortcuts.  If we publish a shortcut link to the installed application, we can determine which users will see icon.  When a user selects the icon, which is pointing to the executable file on the desktop, the application starts immediately.  And with the use of Dazzle, we can allow the users to configure their start menu with the icons as they see fit. 

Of course this doesn’t do anything for those users who are smart enough to go searching on the local virtual desktop C: drive and can find the physical executable file.  But you can use Active Directory policies to disable certain users from executing certain applications.  (User Configuration – Administrative Templates – System – Don’t run specified Windows applications)

Of course to set this up, you have to get the application installed, publish content, and set an Active Directory security policy. But once it is configured, you have one less desktop image to maintain and adding/removing users to a particular application just involves adding/removing users from a particular Active Directory group membership. 

Now you have another option in your bag of tricks.  Hope it helps

Daniel

Lead Architect – Worldwide Consulting Solutions
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Application Solution Providers, Inc. 866-764-8324

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