App Layering

Citrix App Layering

Citrix App Layering radically reduces the time that it takes to manage Windows applications and images. No matter your hypervisor or Provisioning Service, the App Layering service lets you:

  • Install your OS, platform tools, and apps in separate layers.
  • Maintain a single OS layer for each major OS version. For an OS update, you add a version to the layer. You can then select a specific version of the layer for each image template, as needed. The existing app and platform layers continue to run on each OS update.
  • Create an image template for each unique combination of layers required by your users.
  • Use the templates to provision as many systems as you need.
  • Elastically assign specific App layers for on-demand delivery to users when they log in.

Using layers and templates, you can greatly reduce the number of images you maintain. The App Layering solution works for both pooled desktops and session hosts.

Welcome to application management simplicity

App Layering separates the management of your OS and apps from your infrastructure. You can install each app and OS patch once, update the associated templates, and redeploy your images.

You can publish layered images as open standard virtual disks, usable in any environment.

It’s possible to maintain one generic OS layer for each major Windows version and one layer for each app. Software updates go into new versions of each layer. Then you select the specific layer versions that you want in each of your image templates.

Provision servers and desktops in any environment

App Layering lets you package any Windows app as a virtual disk. You can deliver those apps to pooled desktops and session hosts. With App Layering, you can:

  • Install Windows OS on one layer and use it in as many images as you would like to generate. The same goes for your apps, and your hypervisor and other platform software.
  • Select any combination of layers to create layered Images that are deployable as desktops or session hosts.
  • Deploy those layered images to virtual machine desktops and session hosts, making the applications available to users.

You can deliver an app update or an OS patch to an entire server farm or desktop silo with one image update.

Deliver applications based on need

You can deliver applications based on need, where:

  • You include applications that everyone needs in your base images.
  • You deliver certain App layers “on-demand” using the Elastic layering feature.

Base Image: The base image is one that you generate from a barebones image template. It includes only the software that you want all users to receive. You can deliver more specialized apps using Elastic layers, which are “layers on demand.”

Elastic Layers, “layers on demand:” With Elastic layering enabled on an image, you can assign app layers not included in the base image to users on that machine. Users receive the apps when they log in. The more generic your base image, the fewer unique images there are to maintain.

User (personalization) data and settings

The user (personalization) layer is a writable layer that includes users’:

  • Locally saved data and profile changes.
  • Locally installed apps and plug-ins.

Give users a persistent experience by enabling User layers on non-persistent, pooled desktop images. Users receive a layer for local data and settings. You can then size your infrastructure based on the maximum number of concurrent users.

A simple addition to your infrastructure

At the heart of Citrix App Layering deployment is the Enterprise Layer Manager (ELM) technology that runs on the App Layering appliance. The appliance hosts the App Layering management console.

The management console lets you:

  • Create and manage layers.
  • Create image templates and publish images.
  • Assign layers to users as part of the base image or using the elastic layers feature.

You can layer virtually any app that is compatible with your OS. Each app layer can include one or more apps, preferably ones that are on the same upgrade schedule. To upgrade the apps, you:

  • Install the updates on a new version of the app layer.
  • Update the applicable image templates with the new layer version.
  • Republish the images and reprovision your systems.

Platform layers isolate your hypervisor, provisioning, and connection broker software. Deliver the same OS and app layers with a unique platform layer for each platform.

Connector configurations

The appliance uses connector configurations to access specific locations in your virtual environment. App Layering uses the defined locations to:

  • Import the OS for the OS layer.
  • Package layers during layer creation.
  • Publish layered images to a specific location.


For compatibility details, see System Requirements.

Citrix App Layering