In preparation for this article, we set out to find a simple definition of application virtualization. All we wanted was a simple and concise introductory sentence to give our readers a good idea of what application virtualization is all about, independent of the meanings given by the existing software vendors that tout the advantages of application virtualization.
The search turned out to be rather difficult, as it seems the different companies pursuing the technology are defining what it means. It is not our intention to declare a "winning technology" in this article; the fact is that all the products we'll have a look at have a slightly different focus. Instead, the goal is to provide an objective view of the technology's current possibilities for the IT market.
While the number of companies offering application virtualization is definitely growing, the bulk of the possibilities currently come from four products, namely VMware's Thinstall, Altiris' SVS (Software Virtualization Solution), Microsoft Application Virtualization (previously SoftGrid), and Citrix XenApp (previously Citrix Presentation Server). It's interesting to note that in the course of the past two years, nearly all of these products were acquired by one of the major software companies, so there's definitely interest by the big players in this field.
We hope this article will provide an interesting introduction to anyone interested in becoming more familiar with this trend.