Altiris Software Virtualization Solution

GCN Lab Review: Altiris' SVS provides a viable alternative to permanently installing applications or making older applications work with Windows Vista

SOFTWARE VIRTUALIZATION Solution (SVS) from Altiris, which last year became a division of Symantec, was one of the first application virtualization products to hit the market. The latest version, 2.1, adds support for Windows Vista 32- bit. SVS does not support any 64-bit operating systems.

SVS uses the concept of a file system filter driver that sits between an application and the operating system. That allows the product to intercept all calls to and from the host operating system as well as read/write functions using the local file system.

Once you have the driver installed, it is simple to run a virtual application and control its behavior. You can have multiple applications running in the same virtual application environment and allow them to share data. This makes sense for suites such as Microsoft Office where information is frequently shared between the different applications.

Creating a virtualized application is similar to installing an application. The difference is you must first run the Altiris Software Virtualization Solution Admin program and choose to create a new layer.

Options from here include running Install Application, creating a Data Layer to capture changes to specific directories, or creating an Empty Layer that you can edit manually.

After you have created an application layer, you can choose to start the layer automatically at system boot, reset the layer, delete or export the layer, or activate or deactivate the layer. Right-clicking on an application layer also lets you edit the layer properties.

From here you can choose to modify a host of options that control how the application behaves with the underlying operating system and file system.

When you create a new layer, the data is stored in a read-only sublayer. Any user changes to the application or data will be written to a writeable layer. When you reset a layer, all data in the writeable area is deleted, retaining the read-only portions.

Every layer has two sets of duplicate parameters that mimic the host operating system, with areas such as the My Documents folder on Windows XP. One set of these parameters is read-only; the other is writeable. This makes it possible to build an application layer with any combination of file and system configurations.

One option of particular interest is the Global Exclude Entries, which allows you to specify certain file extensions or directories to exclude from all application layers, ensuring that your data isn't lost when a layer is reset.

SVS integrates with either Altiris' Notification Server or Deployment Solution for distributed management.

Altiris' SVS ' priced at $29 per node for the stand-alone version and $128 per node as a component of Client Management Suite ' provides a viable alternative to permanently installing applications or making older applications work with Windows Vista.

Symantec, (888) 252-5551, www.altiris.com

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