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Managing Non-Packaging Applications

Greg Lambert
February 1, 2023
2 minutes

As the final piece of our series on Application Management, we have included our thinking on managing non-packaged applications and how to deal with end of lifecycles for corporate application portfolios.

Not every organization can afford (either time or money) to package all their applications into a well-documented, Microsoft Installer format (MSI). Some organizations have taken the approach to “wrap” their applications in either Visual Basic (VB), command or PowerShell scripts. Done well, this approach satisfies a lot of the requirements for a rapid, low-touch deployment. There are risks to this approach including lack of uninstallation support and potential security risks to the application supply chain.

Readiness has embraced a “Wrap and Test” approach to deploying application installations with a validated PowerShell script, detailed application functionality and deployment testing (install, and uninstall as supported by the deployment script). Readiness has fully integrated and automated the generation of PowerShell deployments for all installation “pathways” including: MSI, EXE’s, AppV/MSIX/AppX and Liquidware packages.

Testing the scripts is critical element of this strategy which will rely on screen snapshots/recordings to ensure that each application successfully installed, ran as expected and then was removed from the target system according to the scripted instructions. A final note on this approach is that patching is more challenging but can be managed as part of a fully managed/integration wrapping/testing/deployment solution.

Applications at the End of the Lifecycle

Like the military saying, “Generals don’t die, they just fade away” applications are rarely retired and removed but more likely to linger with a “replacement” adding to the portfolio. Readiness expects application portfolios to change by roughly 1/3 every year, with a growth of 10% per annum. Managing legacy applications has become a greater challenge than ever due to the rapid pace of change, and subsequent removal of older platform support from Microsoft with the introduction of each new version of the Operating System (OS).

Recognizing this attritional process, Readiness has integrated a workflow and technical process for assessing older applications, deprecated components (and API’s), and out-dated dependencies. Incorporating “legacy” packaging techniques and processing into the release process ensures that even older applications install and run as expected. Readiness can report, assess, and support the removal of older applications. Or, if the client chooses; to provide a platform for ongoing maintenance for older applications.

Just a quick note to say, “Thank you very much” to all those who have read some or all of this series. We hope to continue adding to these posts and very much appreciate your feedback.

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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