Application Virtualization: On-Demand Testing

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Imagine a testing center where the computers never freeze, yet you can run multiple applications such as new certification exams on different topics for different audiences and not worry that the operating system will get damaged or balk when new test versions are added. Well, it’s possible. It’s called application virtualization technology, which allows different applications to run on the same machine at the same time without conflicting.


“A lot of time that is normally spent to ensure compatibility with applications when people do testing is spent setting up machines to make them pristine and clean (or) making sure that previous installations haven’t caused problems,” said David Greschler, co-founder, Softricity. “At the core of what we do is this idea called application virtualization. Today if you take a Windows application, and we work in the Windows environment, and install it to a machine with a CD or other electronic software distribution, when it runs an installation, it permanently alters the machine that you’re running. You install an application and it actually writes to the registry where a lot of data is stored. It installs certain versions of DLL’s, which are code bases, which are specific versions, and it puts them into specific locations in the machine. Up to 18 different things on your operating system can get changed when you run an installation. This is fine if you’re just going to install one app, but most of us don’t run one app. Certainly in testing you don’t.”


So, how do certification program managers ensure that their latest or newest testing applications don’t overwrite existing ones and cause one or all applications to shut down or malfunction? For example, when you install a new version of Word to your computer, you have to uninstall the old version first to avoid this type of overlap and the inevitable error boxes that pop up like flies at a picnic. “Imagine the problems you have on the scale of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 people in a testing environment or the enterprise in general,” Greschler said. “This is a huge problem, perhaps the number-one problem administrators have to deal with when deploying apps, updating apps, terminating or supporting apps.”


Application virtualization is tied to on-demand delivery technology that accelerates testing deployment and allows for significant time savings on regression testing to ensure potentially dueling applications can cohabitate. “A lot of our customers who have testing centers say, ‘We won’t have to run these different versions.’ They see tremendous benefit from it,” Greschler said.


Kellye Whitney is associate editor for Certification Magazine. She can be reached at

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