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Application Installations: An Ever-Growing Story

Greg Lambert
February 13, 2023
2 minutes

One of the most interesting things about managing large application portfolios is that you get a chance to see how each industry operates. Understanding how each application works provides an intimate view of of the technical and operational requirements of each sector.

For example, we recently worked with a medical devices provider where local security was paramount. Before that we delivered our automated packaging service to a large engineering firm with pretty strict access requirements for their hardware.

Just recently we delivered an interesting challenge – enormous application packages. I mean huge. Try 60Gb’s in size. With over 25,000 registry entries these installations were enormous challenges to collate, install and deploy.

It is worth going back to the original thinking of Readiness – that applications would get simpler, more “webby” and easier to deploy. We were really, really wrong.

I did a quick scan of our portfolio (organized by year) and generated the following results:

image002

Instead of getting simpler, we have seen applications grow in size and complexity. One of the things that really surprised me was the number of dependencies that are now required by each installation. The thinking used to be that a “gold build” team would agree on the core operating system requirements and include the organizations dependencies, middleware, and other shared components in the core build.

That may still be the case for some groups, but the number of dependencies has dramatically increased over the past few years. We used to see around 1-2 dependencies per installations – with the vast majority not requiring any additional files or middleware. Now we are seeing multiple requirements including:

  • Middleware (e.g. Crystal Reports)
  • MFC components (Microsoft Runtimes)
  • Windows features (that need to be enabled)
  • Peer level dependencies (applications that need to be installed together)

I think that generally desktop deployments will get easier. Especially with Microsoft’s efforts on improving Intune. However, it looks like the application installation effort will continue to be a challenge, not so much on the formatting of the install routine (working MSI Installer tables) but on:

  • Management dependencies
  • Increasing file sizes
  • User based installs
  • Application interdependence

This all means one thing: these challenges coupled with the increased requirement for clean application uninstallation and fully documented audit trails will require ever more automation.

Maybe we were right after all…

P.S. If you were wondering what the title image describes – it’s the file size of an application, with the system files and data files separated out.

Greg Lambert

CEO, Product Evangelist
Greg Lambert is the CEO and product evangelist for Application Readiness Inc. Greg is a co-founder of ChangeBASE and has considerable experience with application packaging technology and its deployment.

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