Great blog post from our partner Liquidware Labs.
The EPIC platform used by the healthcare industry has often been described as a Hub and Spoke model. Where patients and medical staff interact with countless smaller software packages and then feed data back into the centralized management platform. Patient management, Scheduling, Clinical oversight, are just some of the areas of focus within the EPIC platform. From an IT perspective, this can become a daunting proposition, considering you must install and maintain each of the individual software packages including the centralized management platform.
VDI has evolved into a solid use case for the EPIC platform based on reduced deployment overhead, and the ability to provide a repeatable process for both IT and the end users. This did not really alleviate the true challenge with EPIC, considering the administrator still must install the EPIC client or additional software inside of the parent VM or user desktop.
Application Virtualization seemed like a plausible solution at first, but was ultimately met with some significant challenges. Platforms like AppV and ThinApp were poised to help alleviate some of the challenges of EPIC, but few could have predicted how the EPIC platform would react when exposed to the application virtualization technologies.
- “The Bubble” – the ability to isolate the corresponding application from the host operating system, would end up being one of the primary detractors for solutions like EPIC. Challenges during the packaging process would often halt efforts at the start of projects. Essentially, the EPIC platform would reject the isolated environment and fail.
- Communication – In some respects, it would come down to communication failures between the EPIC software and the host operating system, across each of the various EPIC components. Ultimately, when isolated within the Bubble, the EPIC software would no longer be able to interact with the host operating system as it normally would.
The Application Layering space has evolved as a solid use case for the EPIC platform by addressing both challenges above as well as a few others. FlexApp from Liquidware Labs has taken steps to provide a more compatible, less isolated application environment that can communicate as expected with the host operating system.
- Reduced packaging complexity – During the FlexApp creation process, the corresponding application installs are simply redirected to virtual disks. These FlexApp Layers can then be attached to the VDI user sessions without the need for the original install. The applications within the FlexApp layers are simply available for use as they normally would be
- Better communication – Using “Filter Drivers”, the corresponding host operating system thinks that the application within the FlexApp Layer is natively installed. This alleviates any potential communication challenges with a platform like EPIC.
Additionally, FlexApp Layering has the potential to alleviate some of the management complexity for platforms like EPIC. The approach varies slightly across the various VDI vendor solutions.