Updating App Volumes AppStacks

Updating App Volumes AppStacks

Introduction to AppStack Management

AppStack management is relatively simple. You build AppStacks on your provisioning virtual machines. App Volumes Manager is then used to duplicate the AppStack when you need to perform an upgrade of one or more applications.

Application Segmentation with AppStacks

Application segmentation means determining which and how many applications to include in a given AppStack. Application segmentation is one of the most important factors in implementing a successful App Volumes deployment.

It is desirable to build AppStack packages that can target a large audience, but it is also very important to consider the frequency of updates that the AppStack will go through during its life cycle.

  • If you include too many applications in an AppStack, you risk having to update the AppStack too frequently.
  • If you include too few applications in each AppStack, you risk having to assign too many AppStacks to users, slowing the login process and degrading performance.

We cover the basics of AppStack Design in the VMware App Volumes Deployment Considerations guide.

AppStack Update Mechanism

When you click the Update button in the App Volumes Manager console, the first thing App Volumes does is create a copy of that AppStack.

The copy is used to create the updated version of the AppStack, without having to modify the original. This gives the immediate benefit of allowing existing users to continue working from the original AppStack while you apply updates to the copied AppStack. The application owner has time to work on the update and test on a different set of users if needed. When all tests are successful, the updated AppStack can be assigned end-users.

Prerequisites for AppStack Updates

Before you begin the process of updating your AppStacks, you need to know what is in the AppStack. Next, you will need to have new versions of the applications you want to update, and you will need a provisioning VM that matches the machine specifications of your end users.

Examining the Content of an AppStack

It is possible to view the content of AppStacks or writable volumes with simple desktop tools. You can use 7-Zip or Far Manager to open an AppStack or a writable volume. You cannot edit them, but you can view content if needed.

Creating a Provisioning VM for AppStacks

Creating and maintaining a provisioning VM is outside the scope of this document.

If you would like more information about provisioning and other App Volumes concepts, consider taking the free, self-paced course VMware App Volumes Fundamentals from VMware Education.

Workflow of the AppStack Update Process

This workflow involves copying the existing AppStack, naming the copy, attaching the copy to the provisioning VM, updating the applications, and then detaching the AppStack from the provisioning VM.

1. Choose an AppStack to Update

From the App Volumes Manager console, select the AppStack containing the application or applications you want to update, and click Update.

2. Name the New AppStack

  1. Provide a name for the new, updated AppStack.
  2. Select Create.

3. Verify the Operation in vSphere

Use the vSphere Client console to verify the AppStack VMDK file being copied.

4. Update Applications and Attach the New AppStack to the Provisioning VM

With the AppStack now in provisioning mode, on the provisioning VM, update any applications that need updating, or install new versions of the applications, and click OK to attach the AppStack to your provisioning VM.

5. Reboot the Provisioning VM

Perform a final reboot and log in again after completing your updates. This reboot is required to properly finish the provisioning and update process for the new AppStack.

6. Click OK in the Provisioning Successful Dialog Box

This final step changes the AppStack from being in read-write mode, back to read-only mode and detaches it from the provisioning VM. The AppStack is now available in App Volumes Manager.

Important: Before using the provisioning VM again to create or update AppStacks, be sure to revert the provisioning VM back to a clean snapshot; that is, one that was taken before any AppStacks were assigned.