Have you ever found yourself asking what is MSIX app attach? In this episode of The Late Night Brew, Robert Buktenica joins Peter Cooney to chat about what is MSIX and app attach.
Robert Buktenica: Hello everyone and welcome to The Late Night Brew where we talk the brews first, and then we get around to the business at some point afterwards. With me again is Peter Cooney to talk more Rimo3. Welcome back, buddy.
Peter Cooney: Thanks, Buck. Glad to be here.
Robert: Definitely. Important things first, are you having some more T2 French Earl Grey, or you got something different for me?
Peter: There’s number of flavors that I do like there, and I hope there’s no sponsorship here of T2. I’m just a tea fan. This is their chai tea. T2’s Chai tea. Now, the funny thing is I’ve heard that chai means tea, so this is tea tea. There you go.
Robert: Yes, I was going to say it. Chai means tea.
Peter: Chai means tea.
Peter: Yes, it’s quite nice. A lot of cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, cloves, ginger.
Robert: Good spicy chai.
Peter: Good spicy chai. Yes, yes, yes. Yes, absolutely.
Robert: I appreciate that. I can really appreciate that. I’m supporting a local brewery to Arizona SanTan. Problem with the light. There you go. Pebble Head and it is a stone fruit IPA. Like peaches and-
Robert: Apricots. Yes, it’s really good.
Peter: Nice. It’s hard to get stone fruit in Australia. Well, not hard. You don’t get a lot of it because you need the cold to make it bud. Pretty much. You don’t get a lot of stone fruit. The nectarines are tiny and you don’t really see apricots, whereas I’m from New Zealand, and nectarines are this big. I miss a bit of stone fruit here. You get good plums here though. Plums and cherries.
What is MSIX?
Robert: There you go. Win some, lose some. For Rimo3, we are, at least today, talking about MSIX, the next generation of MSI. Real quickly, what is it?
Peter: Yes, well look, for the uninitiated, MSI is pretty much the default application packaging format. It’s been around for, I think, 15 years now. Long time.
Robert: Long time.
Peter: For most IT people it’s very familiar to them, and it’s the format you put apps in so they can be deployed through technology like ECCM and such. What is MSIX? MSIX is that next generation. It’s really built for the cloud. It’s built for virtual desktops, and it’s built for security. There’s a lot of things, a lot of angles we could talk about, but in a real simple nutshell, it’s the latest generation format, so you can take advantage of modern deployment.
Robert: Awesome. You touched on a couple of what the security and other. Can we run through, real quick, some of the benefits of this next new format?
Peter: Sure, sure. Probably the biggest one is that it’s a container. When it installs, it’s actually the OS that manages the install, not the application itself. Because it’s a container it’s actually Code signed with a certificate. It’s actually tamper-proof. The other bit is, is that because it’s a container, again, and all these benefits of containerisation, it’s not really installed in the operating system.
In the container is all the registry settings; the DLLs and such. You don’t get this bloat of your machine and you don’t really get it modified. You can also do other things like have a signal package that can do 32-bit, 64-bit, and different language versions. Whereas in the past, they would all be different MSI with different install instructions. Yes, pretty neat. You can also run the same versions of the software side by side because you’re just attaching different containers.
You can get around some limitations sometimes that that brings in. Also, from our stats, if you like, and what Microsoft says, it has better performance. Even just converting your app to MSIX works. Interestingly, when you’re using the Windows store, it uses a package format called APEX. A lot of those benefits of that where it can slide loads apps, automatically update them on the fly. All that technology is also an MSIX. So, if you had a new version, you don’t have to package again, deploy, push that out, pull the other one off. You just update the existing package and all the people connected to it pull it down. Pretty neat stuff. Yes, as I said, modern deployment. Modern deployment.
What is app attach?
Robert: All of that, the modern deployment, the containerisation. That’s app attached. That’s what it’s called in practice?
Peter: Somewhat yes. There’s a particular way to install MSIX, which is called app attach. You can just have a normal MSIX, which will be you download the package and install it in OS. It still stays containerised. It still has all those benefits I just spoke about. App attach has a particular benefit to using it with virtual desktops and it doesn’t matter the flavour. It could be Citrix, Remote Desktop, VMware, let’s name them all. WVD, Windows 365. Okay?
Peter: Now, what it does is, normally in a gold image, you’ll have your apps, your common apps everybody will use. You may have a couple more that are just a bit difficult to deploy, but only a few people will use them. Well, the size of that image will get quite big. You’ve put lots of apps in and every time you create a machine based on it, you’ve got this gold image size.
You can slim down your gold image. Taking those apps out, keep the common ones, but take some of those uncommon ones out or least used apps out, put the mini MSIX format. Then what happens is, is as you move around each session in the VDI host, or the multi-session host, as you move around each session, those apps just get attached to your session.
You have one instance of the app, sitting on low-cost storage too, I might add. VDI multi-session, normally, what you’re going to have is quite expensive storage: SSD disc, manage disc, and Azure. It’s very expensive.
You can just put the MSIX app attach file on just Azure files, make a connexion to it when you log on. It’s there instantly. There’s no install. You are attaching the package and you’ve got your apps. No matter what machine you move to, you’ve got your apps and then your gold image is shorter or smaller. You can imagine if I had a thousand machines, the cumulative benefit of that storage reduction.
Robert: Scales very, very quickly.
Peter: Scales really well. If you want to change it, if you want to change that app, you don’t have to redo your gold image. Redo the image, test, deploy, pull down the pool of servers, build another one up based on that image. Just update the package, which you can do on the fly with MSIX. Lots of great benefits. We’re quite excited about it. It is way down in the tech and it’s definitely at a layer. I don’t normally work at it, but we’re trying to get the message out there because we can see a lot of benefits to moving into our MSIX, for sure.
Robert: Yes. No, that’s a fantastic run-through, and that is unfortunately through our time. Appreciate you having a brew with me. I hope everyone enjoyed it and have a fantastic rest of their day. Reach out if you wanted know more, take care.
Peter: Thanks, Buck. Cheers, mate.
Robert: Cheers mate.