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Application virtualization

Application virtualization definition

Application virtualization is a technology that encapsulates computer programs from the operating system on which they run. It places applications in a self-contained environment, reducing system clashes and dependencies.

See also: server virtualization, network function virtualization, virtual machine migration, container isolation

How application virtualization works

  1. 1.A software tool first “packages” or “captures” the application into a virtualized bundle. The bundle includes the application and all its dependencies, except the underlying OS.
  2. 2.The packaged application is then deployed to end-user devices. When users launch the application, it operates within its virtual space on the device.
  3. 3.Although the application thinks it is interacting with its native OS, it's actually communicating with a virtual layer. It is isolated from other applications and the underlying OS.

Benefits of application virtualization

  • Portability. Applications can operate on any device without installation, simplifying software deployment.
  • Compatibility. It reduces conflicts between applications or between the application and the OS. This is particularly beneficial for legacy software on newer systems.
  • Simplified management. Centralized management of applications makes updates and patches easier.
  • Isolation. Applications don't interfere with each other, reducing malfunction risks.

Limitations of application virtualization

  • Load issues. Running applications in a virtual environment can increase the system load and reduce speed.
  • Complexity. Packaging and deploying virtualized applications is more complex than standard installation.
  • Compatibility. Not all applications or software are suitable or supported for virtualization.
  • Licensing. Licensing models for virtualized applications can be more complex or costly.