There are five vendors who have solutions in this arena, including Microsoft's App-V, Citrix' XenApp, InstallFree 7Bridge, Symantec Workspace Virtualization, and VMware's ThinApp. (See the chart below.)
Each has made improvements in the past year on their solutions, but getting this to work is somewhat involved. Each product may or may not require its own agent to be pre-installed on each desktop to deliver the virtualized layer.
Some products don't work with any directory services, or don't completely isolate the virtualized app from the rest of the desktop operating system. And getting the virtualized app packaged to be delivered to each desktop is a multiple-step process that can also be vexing.
But once you get all this together, however, you can associate particular Web sites to be opened with particular browsers, much the way a file type association works to always open .DOC files in Microsoft Word.
Product comparison chart of Application Virtualization Solutions:
A typical scenario can have a terabyte of storage allocated to a virtual network, and only a few hundred gigabytes actually used for the applications after you partition the drive with logical and physical volumes and add in operating system requirements. The challenge: you want to provision your virtual drive to have room to grow, but you don't want to deal with adjusting the size of your virtual disks when the demand arises.
Another issue is that virtual machines can create a lot of duplicated files used by common operating system and applications. Making backups of these files can be time consuming if you have to backup all the duplicates.
There are a number of thin provisioning and dedupe products on the market now, including Virtsto One for Hyper V installations, Symantec Pure Disk and Sepaton. Look for these features to become more prominent in the coming year.
Tricipher offers unified security authentication in the cloud, so a single Web sign-on can authenticate you across multiple Web sites. This makes it easier to deploy hybrid cloud solutions if you can pass security credentials among the various sites. Integrien provides performance analytics software for infrastructure and real-time applications. VMLogix provides automated setup and tear down of multiple machine configurations and automation tools that can be used with multiple hypervisors from Citrix, Microsoft and VMware.
As you can see, there are lots of innovative things happening in the virtualization space that make it easier to create more complex and secure virtual environments.