A Visit to Application Packaging
Before Application Packaging
Many of us reading this article will remember the release of Microsoft™ Windows 3.0 on the 22nd May 1990. At the time; the aforementioned Operating System was the top of the line offering a full 256 colour experience. The brand new operating system was a revamped design from its predecessor Windows 2.11.
Users had the pleasure of using a Graphical User Interface and software vendors were (and still are) releasing new titles to the market place each day. However when it came to the administration of software onto the brand new Operating System these posed administrative challenges, some included:
System administrators finding that software titles easily became corrupt with missing files.
Installing new software to multiple computers got ever more time intensive.
Installed titles were difficult to audit.
Creation of Windows Installer and Application Packaging
In 1999 Microsoft™ seeing organisations facing these challenges released Windows Installer which gave birth to the application packaging industry.
Windows Installer revolutionised the way applications would be deployed to a computer and eventually device estate. It provided many benefits such as:
The ability to automatically verify and repair missing files.
Self contained MSI, MSU, MSP and Cab files for ease of deployment.
A format which was easy to deploy though emerging future network technologies (i.e. Group Policy and SMS Installer).
Ease of use for commissioning and decommissioning new and old applications.
More control and easier visibility for software titles installed on a network.
At the time this also gave birth to the field of Application Packaging! Since 1999 Application packaging also referred to as Application Migration has helped to migrate millions of software titles across, thousands of clients among hundreds of countries across the globe. This is known as the application packaging process.
Application Packaging Process
This process follows Six main steps:
Inventory and rationalisation - Discovering what software titles are installed, identifying their usage patterns and preparing a report to identify which versions of the software are relevant for moving to a new operating system.
Discovery - Identifying how the application is configured, gathering the requirements for the configuration as well as relevant test data.
Application Packaging and Application Virtualisation - The engineering phase of the process where the package will be created.
Assurance - This is also know as Peer Review or Quality Assurance. The newly created application package is tested thoroughly for internal consistency and verified that the application behaves in the same manner as the source media supplied.
Release - This is the process where the application is deployed to the target computer/device. This is achieved though a technology such as Group Policy, System centre Configuration manager, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit or LANDesk.
The process however doesn't end there! The application package then is staged for User Acceptance Testing on a target device. A user who is familiar with an applications operation is selected, so they may then begin their testing.
Should any applications require any rework either due to a change of configuration or to add additional functionality with another application, the application would proceed again through the steps Discovery to Release.
Each application which goes through the process is called an application packaging request and at any time full details of the request can be obtained.
Deployment Methods for Packaged Applications
Deployment of packaged applications has come a long way since 1999 and there are many methods for deploying packaged applications to a new estate. Some of them are the aforementioned Group Policy, SCCM, MDT, LANDesk. But in addition I would also like to add PSExec (a handy free tool Provided by Microsoft™) among many others HP™ Radia, Quest™ ChangeBase and many more...
Application Packaging Benefits
A new application estate that has undergone a transformation project with us will have the following benefits:
A consistent repeatable standard where applications have been packaged to the highest standard.
Clear release, configuration, and test documentation which can easily be accessed.
Conformance to existing frameworks, ITIL, ISO 20000 as well as conformance to Data Protection as well as security frameworks and procedures.
Application Packaging with a flexible approach - not only for the project phase but also in Operational Acceptance into Service and throughout the Business As Usual phase.
We Are With You
At Ray Hatten Ltd we understand the technological and business challenges involved with migrating software to a new platform, we understand that sometimes priorities have to be juggled to meet business objectives and we are here to help you!
Our 120 day application packaging warranty and flexible testing model we strongly believe in giving you the personal touch while helping to meet your business challenges. Please fill out the Contact form and we will endeavour to call you the same working day to discuss your requirements!
Wishing you Happy Holidays for you and your families!