Implementing App-V – Part II: Choosing and Preparing the Environment
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After the first post about App-V and application virtualization technologies we had a nice review about the platform. So, if you feel like this type of technology can add some value to your organization, let’s start playing around.
Before you begin, let’s talk about the available models in App-V that will help you choose the strategy according to your platform. The architecture is prepared to support almost any scenario, including low-bandwidth branches offices or even offline deployments.
This is the minimalist mode of App-V with no infrastructure required but the machine that packages the application, “sequencer” from now on, and the App-V Desktop Client.
Sequencing the application adds all the necessary files into one package and generates an MSI file that you can use to deploy manually, by group policy or using SMS/System Center Configuration Manager.
This mode is focused when you have several offline users (do they even exist at this point?), or when you have already SCCM deployed and you don’t want to add a App-V Server.
This model it is also focused on platforms that do not want Management Servers. The components present here are the streaming server, sequencer to package applications and the App-V client.
The Streaming Server as the name says it, streams the applications to the clients on demand. The server does not use a SQL database, the permissions are set and maintain based on ACLs (access control lists).
You can use it on low-bandwidth links like branch offices to optimize the application deployment.
Full Infrastructure Model
The full model contains the full set of components in App-V: Management Server, Sequencer, Streaming server and App-V Client. In most cases, the streaming server it is completely optional since the application streaming can be executed from the Management Server, delivering applications on demand to users.
Using a Management Server will add the applications shortcuts publication within the process of deployment. And includes more features for reporting, using a SQL database.
Applications in this model are associated to security groups in Active Directory. And you can also manage centrally the applications licenses.
We are going to focus this set of posts in a Full Infrastructure Model, using a Management Server, Sequencer and a App-V Desktop Client.
Enough with the explanations, let’s get to work.
Installing App-V Management Server
The process it is a little tricky, but we’ll try to set clear all the necessary requirements before running the installation wizard.
This is the list of minimum requirements:
- Windows Server 2003 SP1 or superior
- IIS 6 role installed with ASP.Net
- .Net Framework 2.0
- MMC 3.0
- SQL Server 2005 Express SP2
Before proceeding with the installation take a closer look to what are the SQL and IIS configurations necessary that we are going to review next.
Here’s the environment that I’ll be using:
- Active Directory and DNS platform in place.
- Windows Server 2008 (32-bit)
- IIS 7 role installed with ASP.Net
- SQL Server 2005 Express SP2.
SQL Special Considerations
The SQL Express can be installed with the default options, but, as I mentioned it before, there are a few SQL configurations that needed to be set before the App-V installation process:
1. Open SQL Server Surface Area Configuration Tool from the SQL Server Start Menu folder.
2. Click on Surface Area Configuration for Features.
3. Inside of “CLR Integration”, click the option for “Enable CLR Integration”.
4. Inside of “OLE Automation” click “Enable OLE Automation”.
5. Close “Surface Area Configuration for Features”.
6. Click “Surface Area Configuration for Services and Connections”.
7. Inside “Remote Connections” select “Local and Remote Connections” and set “Using both TCP/IP and named pipes”.
8. Restart the SQL Server services to apply all changes.
Since I’m using Windows Server 2008 and IIS 7 for the Management Server installation, there are a few considerations about it.
- Install ASP.Net feature with all pre-requisites.
- Windows Authentication feature enabled.
- IIS 7 Management Tools with Management Service and IIS 6 Management Compatibility features installed.
Step-by-Step App-V Management Server Installation
One completed the pre-requisites and considerations, let’s start with the installation.
1. With the App-V installation media, double click the setup executable.
2. Welcome page, click on “Next”.
3. Accept the License Agreement and click on “Next”.
4. Select “Custom” setup type.
5. Here you can modify installation components (not recommended) or change the installation directory. Click on “Next”.
6. Select the SQL Server instance where the database will be stored. In my case, I’m using the same server with one instance. Click on “Next”.
7. Select “Create a new database”. Maintain the suggested database name “APPVIRT”. You can also modify the location for the database files. Recommended for this type of server to store the database on a different hard drive than the operating system.
8. Leave deselected the option for “Use enhanced security”. You can set secure connections with this server, that will require of course for a certificate. Out of the scope in our case.
9. Leave the default value for the RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol): 554.
10. Select the group that will have full access to the App-V Management Server console. In my case, I’m selecting only “Domain Admins” to give access. This option can be modify later.
11. Select the provider group, that by default will have access to the enabled applications. In my case, I will select only “Domain Admins” and later personalize each application for each group.
12. Select the folder where the applications packages will be stored. Leave the default “C:\Program Files\Microsoft System Center App Virt Management Server\App Virt Management Server\content\”. Click on “Next”
13. On the “Ready to Install the Program” window click on “Install”.
After a few moments you will have the App-V Management Server fully installed.
14. Recommended: Reboot the server.
IMPORTANT: If any of the pre-requisites and considerations mentioned above are not completed, you will receive a message like this when you start the installation:
“Error 25109. The installation program could not create the configuration data store. Please see the installation log file for more information”
There are basically three more tasks to execute after the App-V Management Server installation is completed to guarantee the proper functionality:
1. Once the server is rebooted, you will need to verify the “Application Virtualization Management Server” service. If you are running on a virtualized environment, you will need to manually start the service.
2. Share the “content” folder created for the applications packages (by default C:\Program Files\Microsoft System Center App Virt Management Server\App Virt Management Server\content\). Give to “Everyone” the “Read & Execute”, “List folder contents” and “Read” access.
3. If you have the firewall enabled, ensure that you enable the exceptions for inbound connections with the programs sghwdsptr.exe and sghwsvr.exe. Both located in “C:\Program Files\Microsoft System Center App Virt Management Server\App Virt Management Server\bin\”.
Note: If these firewall exceptions are not in place, you will also have problems with App-V clients trying to receive and execute the application packages. We’ll check that later.
And yes, you can now open the “Application Virtualization Management Console” and start working with the platform.
Make sure that you deselect the “Use Secure Connection” if you didn’t install a certificate for App-V.
As an interesting option to evaluate your App-V Management Server environment is the Microsoft Application Virtualization Best Practices Analyzer.
It verifies general configurations in your Management and/or Streaming Server 4.5, and notify about possible anomalies as a diagnostic tool. Requires the presence of Microsoft Baseline Configuration Analyzer to generate the reports.
In this example, the warning generated is about the database been stored in the same place as the Management Server.
I’ll be reviewing in the next posts how to prepare clients and applications to be deployed by App-V. I’ll be using Microsoft Office 2007 as the sequenced application.
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