Application Streaming vs. Virtual App Delivery – What’s the Difference?

A growing number of IT departments are starting to recognize that one-size-fits-all virtualization strategies are holding back their users. For a long time desktop virtualization technologies like Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) from the likes of Citrix, VMware, and Microsoft have been the default approach for many organizations. But in the past two years it’s become clear that virtual desktops are not necessary for every end-user and every use case—especially at a time when work-from-home policies and remote work environments demand more flexibility. That’s led to greater interest in application virtualization, or the newer cloud-native version of app virtualization – Virtual App Delivery (VAD).

Application virtualization is the legacy blanket term for any technology that enables users to interact with a software program on an endpoint device that’s different from the one on which that program is installed. Today, application (or app) virtualization generally takes two forms: application streaming and Virtual App Delivery (VAD).

On the face of it, these two approaches might seem similar. After all, they’re both designed to distribute apps—without the need for virtual desktops—to end users. But they’re actually quite different in what they ask of end users, IT staff and cost/pricing.

What is application streaming?

Application streaming works a bit like conventional video streaming whereby a user is able to access an application stored on a remote server on demand. When the user initiates that request by, say, clicking an icon in their operating system’s GUI, only then does the app start to download to the endpoint.

By copying essential code at the outset rather than the entire software application, the user can start working with the software program almost immediately—just like you can start watching a streaming video with only a few megabytes in the buffer. Meanwhile the rest of the application data will continue downloading in the background.

But even though we’re talking about application streaming, this approach tends to rely on the same platforms that are used for desktop virtualization. Streaming applications don’t simply run on any operating system. They require a dedicated virtualization or viewing client. This means that all the same infrastructure, costs and management that are bound up in virtual desktops are also part and parcel of application streaming.

Also, when it comes to user experience, application streaming can be just as cumbersome as full-fledged virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Users have to download the client or have it preinstalled by the IT department. Before using the client, they have to authenticate with the application virtualization server, which can involve the added hassle of virtual private network (VPN) connections. All those steps can be a little too technical for your average end user, and far too cumbersome regardless of your experience level. And that complexity can negatively impact your people’s productivity or security.

Classic examples of application streaming service include Amazon AppStream 2.0, which runs solely on AWS, or Citrix’s XenApp. 

What is Virtual Application Delivery (VAD)?

When you think of “virtualization” in general and how it should function, Virtual App Delivery (VAD) works a bit more like you’d expect. Instead of downloading all or part of the application to an endpoint device, VAD distributes and runs the entire application from a host server. Of course, the end-user can still view and interact with that application in real-time as if it were running natively on their own device. The big difference is that no part of the software is saved locally.

This fundamental distinction is reflected in the distribution platform. Whereas application streaming relies on the same infrastructure as desktop virtualization to issue an app to an endpoint device, VAD is much leaner and more cost-effective. It avoids the messy conglomeration of protocols and services that go into supporting a VDI environment.

With Virtual Application Delivery (VAD), the user experience is more straightforward too. The endpoint client is really just an interactive window into the virtualized software. As a result, there are fewer potential cross-platform compatibility issues with whatever operating system the endpoint device happens to be running. In fact, with Cameyo’s Virtual App Delivery platform, end users are able to access Windows software easily and securely through any HTML5-compliant browser. That means its cross-platform support extends to mobile devices running iOS and Android, too.

Which strategy is best for you?

Although application streaming may suit some use cases, Virtual Application Delivery (VAD) enjoys several clear advantages in most scenarios. These are most apparent in what VAD doesn’t require.

  • VAD is an enterprise-grade virtualization technology that doesn’t depend on cumbersome virtual desktop infrastructure. It’s more versatile, more cost-effective and easier to deploy at scale.
  • With VAD, end-users don’t have to download and run a dedicated virtualization client. Cameyo’s VAD solution in particular gives users direct, secure access to all of their business-critical apps on any device with an HTML5 browser.
  • The VAD user experience is superior. Users don’t have to jump through hoops like logging into a virtual desktop environment. Yet they still enjoy real-time access to the full desktop versions of their business-critical apps.
  • Because VAD is easier to manage, IT staff don’t have to spend hours wrestling with policy configurations, VPNs, app updates and user privileges. They can easily enable or disable access to apps on a per-user basis.

By the same token, in reducing complexity and cost across multiple areas, VAD realizes all the anticipated benefits of application virtualization. Consider these common use cases:

The best virtualization solution will naturally depend on your individual criteria. But if you’re intrigued by the advantages of virtual application delivery, Cameyo represents the best that VAD has to offer. Try out your free trial of Cameyo today and see how easy it is to secure and optimize app delivery for every one of your end users—in as little as five minutes. You also have the option to schedule a demo and have one of our engineers walk you through the features of our Virtual Application Delivery (VAD) platform.