SCCM R2 Softgrid integration very good with one low spot

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time working with the SCCM R2 Softgrid integration. First off the overall integration is excellent, it adds the powerful SCCM infrastructure to the great Softgrid solution. In the past the ability to scale with Softgrid was extremely limited by the Softgrid infrastructure. The integration with SCCM allows the use of the powerful distribution infrastructure in SCCM in addition to the ability to target computers. It also allows the targeting of workgroup machines which was not included in Softgrid 4.2 (it is included in 4.5).

However with all of this excellent extension of Softgrid there is one low spot. Once the client agent for Softgrid is enabled the policy is delivered via the SCCM policy engine. rather than the Softgrid Desktop Configuration Server. While the SCCM policy engine is very scalable it does lack speed. The Desktop Configuration Server in Softgrid offers virtually instantaneous delivery of applications to users at login. Now depending on how you target the application in a collection this could cause a major delay in software delivery time. For example if you target an AD group that contains users depending on your discovery and collection refresh cycle you could have a several hour delay in software delivery. Obviously if you use the functionality introduced in SMS 2003 SP2 where you can target a group of users via a collection your software delivery speed will be greatly increased. Even with this model you will not have the immediate delivery of a Softgrid application at login like you do with the Softgrid Desktop Configuration Server. 

I will leave it to you to evaluate whether this is an issue and if so how severe it is something that I am disappointed with. When using a thin image strategy the ability to deliver applications instantaneously at login provides a very powerful tool for desktop management. I am hopeful that in the next version of SCCM we will be able to deliver policy more quickly and use the scalability of the SCCM infrastructure. Until then depending on the implementation requirements I may still be using the Softgrid Desktop Configuration Server.

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6 Responses

  1. […] https://poseidom.wordpress.com/2008/06/07/sccm-r2-softgrid-integration-very-good-with-one-low-spot/ Published Saturday, June 07, 2008 5:07 PM by rodtrent Filed under: Systems Management, Virtualization, System Center, ConfigMgr 2007 […]

  2. Hi Tim,

    Agreed we don’t have the dynamic “instant” gratification of DC refresh with the SCCM integration.

    However, maybe this will make up for it. In the RC release (AppVirt 4.5 and R2) you’ll notice the AppVirt Streaming server (aka LWS) is no longer required to install on the SCCM DP’s for clients to stream from from DP. We (AppVirt Engineering) made a change to the AppVirt client’s transport to support HTTP(s). We also support streaming over HTTP(s) from IIS 6.0 and 7.0. We didn’t have time to test 3rd party http servers (Apache) but we don’t see any reason why this wouldn’t work. However, to be clear, because we did not test AppVirt http streaming from 3rd party web servers, technically, it’s not supported.

    Anyway, we’re in the final stages of getting the RC ready for release. We’ve added a lot of new enhancements I’m sure everyone will agree are very useful.

    I’ll be at Tech Ed this week so feel free to come to my sessions to learn more about the new features in 4.5 along seeing a deep dive of the AppVirt and R2 integration!

    Regards

    Gene Ferioli
    Senior Program Manager Lead
    Application Virtualization
    Microsoft Corporation, Cambridge MA

  3. Tim / Gene,

    We have also been evaluating SCCM R2 and App-V 4.5 and I have to say I agree with Tim’s comments. The dynamic nature of application delivery in the native App-V product provides huge benefits over traditional software distribution. This is particularly true in a VDI environment where the virtual machine, operating system and applications need to be provisioned on demand.

    However the lack of machine based deployment and scalability in the native App-V product means that it is difficult to manage application deployment to distributed sites and app licensing in a large enterprise. This is where the SCCM R2 integration clearly provides major benefits.

    Gene – the change which you describe in your response regarding HTTP also causes me some concern. Whilst I appreciate that it is easier to deploy/manage and there may be some performance improvements there is a huge drawback… the lack of ActiveUpgrade. Having to wait for an SCCM policy refresh and advertisement to execute before a new version of an application is streamed to the desktop is a major disadvantage of HTTP. To be honest given the option I would much prefer the LWS option that was in the R2 beta that retained the ActiveUpgrade functionality. It would have been better if Microsoft had just added HTTP as another option in R2 rather than switching from RTSP. To me the benefits of ActiveUpgrade far outweigh the negatives of deploying and configuring RTSP.

    Another issue I have found with the integration is the fact that you can only deploy ALL applications within a package. You cannot sequence a suite of applications into a single package and then selectively install specific applications within the suite to specific desktops. This can be a major issue for internally developed software where multiple client applications share a common set of executable code. We have an application suite in our company which consists of 35 client apps. Depending on a users’ role within the organisation they need a different mix of applications from the suite.

    The only solution in R2 would seem to be to sequence and manage 35 versions of the package (or deliver all 35 apps to every user). This is unlike the old SMS 2003/4.2 connector which created individual SMS programs for each application in the package. I am not sure if you remember but we spoke about this issue after one of your sessions at MMS and so far MS has been unable to provide a solution.

    Having waited 18 months for 4.5 and R2 before adopting App-V we are now left in a situation where neither the native product nor the integration with R2 may meet our requirements.

  4. All,

    we have encountered the same loss-of-AppV-functionality issues as you described, plus we ran into the fact that SCCM really doesn’t work well for Terminal Server scenario’s. Since TS is the birthplace of SoftGrid you can understand that this is a dealbreaker for many customers. However, we have found a way to integrate App-V and SCCM in such a way that everything works as you would want it to. Read it here: http://www.buit.org/2009/02/13/how-to-integrate-app-v-with-sccm-without-losing-the-features-you-care-about/

    Regards,

    Kevin Reeuwijk
    Principal Technical Consultant
    Getronics Consulting

  5. Hey Tim,

    Just wanted to sound off on the streaming or delivery of Virt apps in SCCM. If you mark you advertisement to run when the user logs on, you will have your immediate stream / distribution of any application msi or virtual in SCCM 2K7 R2. Of course this is only good for user targeted deployments, but most companies are going to the hoteling model and are adopting the user targeting of deployments.

    • This is a true statement, now. At the time SP2 had not been released and that was not possible. I have not tested it with SP2 but I am glad to hear it is better.

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