App-V 5 Scheduler
- Published: Thursday, 21 August 2014
With the release of App-V 5 Microsoft radically changed the way the App-V product is used and also the way it is managed. While there is always way for improvements several community people are/have developed additional tools/products around the product. One of the guys is Bram Wolfs, which created the App-V scheduler. The App-V scheduler offers both App-V functionality in a GUI (by default available as PowerShell commands) as it also offers several new functionalities which are not by default available. App-V Scheduler is developed to be used in different scenarios and integrates well with much used techniques and product in the market. Let’s take a look what the App-V Scheduler offers.
App-V 5 Scheduler needs to be installed on every machine with an App-V client. For the community edition installation exists of a single executable (will discuss the differences between the community and the enterprise edition later on). The installation is really straight forwarded. You need to accept the license agreement, provide user information and organization can specify the destination location of the files and after that the actual installation is started. The App-V Scheduler can also be installed unattended.
When you start start the App-V Scheduler for the first time you are prompted that the initial configuration should be done, which is started automatically after this message. In the Service Configuration two parts are available that need to be configured. The first part the back-end part needs to be configured. The most important settings are specifying the UNC path to the content share, configuring the behavior of the App-V Scheduler, the timeframe new packages will be deployed and providing a service account to connect the UNC path.
The second part is about the App-V client settings like App-V cache and specifying if the Shared Content Store is being used. After the initial configuration the settings should (logically) be applied and the service will be started with the configured settings.
Using App-V 5 Scheduler
App-V 5 Scheduler has two purposes. The first part is about the deployment of the packages to the client and displaying the status of this process. The second part are options available to make troubleshooting App-V package easier. Both purposes are available in the same GUI.
Taking a closer look at the deployment part lots of information is displayed. First of all in the left below corner the details and status of the App-V Scheduler are shown. You have the possibility to directly start the deploy process using the Deploy Now button and reconfigure the service via the Configure Service button. The last button is part of the Enterprise edition, when using the community edition it will provide a window mentioning the enterprise features. In the right below corner the Microsoft App-V 5 Client details are shown and a button providing information about the App-V Scheduler. The main part of the deployment component is showing which packages are currently deployed including all kind of useful information like the size of the package and the percentage of the package that is already loaded on the client and if the package is currently in use on the client. Besides the deployed packages, the App-V Scheduler also shows the deployed Connection Groups.
The second part offers easy access to utilities like regedit and CMD within the virtual application environment (also known as bubble or sandbox). In earlier App-V releases I used separate tools for such troubleshooting steps, so I really like adding such functionality into the App-V Scheduler. From the GUI it is also possible to launch the available application(s) in the App-V package. When more shortcuts are available within the App-V package those will be shown in a selection window, so you pick easily which shortcut you would like to use.
Last but not least you can also manually remove a package from a client with the Remove Package button. The button Package Details is only functioning in the Enterprise edition.
Besides the GUI App-V Scheduler also has his own eventlog component, where the status of the tool is shown.
App-V Scheduler can be made aware of the usage of Citrix techniques Provisioning Services (PVS) and Machine Creation Service (MCS). As shown in the first figure you can enable the option Detect Image state, so App-V Scheduler does not deploy packages when the image is in private/maintenance mode. Also App-V Scheduler integrates with RES Workspace Manager by the possibility to use RES variables. Bram describes the integration possibilities in detail in the article announcing App-V Scheduler 2.0.
Community versus Enterprise Edition
As many good freeware products nowadays App-V Scheduler is available in two editions. A free edition known as the community edition and paid version released as the Enterprise edition. Besides official support and software assurance this enterprise edition also offers additional features. As already mentioned during the article there are some buttons within the GUI that are only available in Enterprise modus like Pending Task (offering the possibility to deploy new version of existing packages while in use), Virtual Processes (visualized all active virtual processes per user) and Package Details (visualize all intergration points and the option to pre-launch the virtualized applications). The Enterprise edition also included the App-V Scheduler Central View component. This is a separated installation providing a management console to manage App-V Scheduler on multiple machines.
The App-V Scheduler is a powerful addition to the App-V product, both providing a GUI for the PowerShell commands as well additional functionality which are not available in the product right now. Because App-V Scheduler supports different deployment scenarios it offers additional value in almost every App-V implementation. Although the community offers already add lots of value, the Enterprise edition management console would be nice to have for the community edition (but I understand the model behind it).