Citrix App Layering

Citrix App Layering radically reduces the overhead involved in managing your Windows applications and images. Regardless of which hypervisor or provisioning service you use, the App Layering service lets you:

  • Install your operating system, platform tools, and applications in separate layers.
  • Select the combination of layers you need for each of your images in an image template, then using the image template to provision systems for groups of users.
  • Elastically assign specific App layers for on-demand delivery to users when they log in.

This reduces the number of images to 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 operating system and apps from your infrastructure. With App Layering, you can install each of your apps and operating system patches one time, and then use them as part of any layered image you deploy.

You can publish layered images as open standard virtual disks, usable in any environment. This allows you to maintain a single Windows installation and a single copy of each app, and yet use them for all of your images across all of your virtual environments.

Provision servers and desktops in any environment

App Layering lets you package any Windows app as a virtual disk, layer and deliver it, installation-free, to pooled desktops and session hosts. With App Layering, you can:

  • Install and manage a single copy of your Windows operating system and a single copy of each of your apps in layers.
  • 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 new applications, application updates, and Windows patches to an entire server farm or desktop silo with a single 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: You create an image template and then add the OS layer, Platform layer, and the App layers that are intended for all users to the image template. Then use the template to publish the layered images, and use the layered images to provision systems in a particular silo.

Elastic Layers, or “Layers On Demand:” You assign App layers to Active Directory users and groups. Users receive the applications when they log in. These App layers are called Elastic layers, and they are delivered on-demand.

User (personalization) data and settings

The User (personalization) layer is a writable layer that includes users’ local profile changes, user-installed apps and plug-ins, and locally saved data. The User layer supports Windows 7 and Windows 10 OS Layers only. You can deliver fully persistent Windows workspaces by using non-persistent, pooled virtual desktops. You can size your infrastructure based on the maximum number of concurrent users. With this method, you can replace a dedicated virtual machine for every user who needs a persistent experience. You can significantly reduce server and storage costs by using pooled virtual desktops.

A simple addition to your environment

At the heart of Citrix App Layering deployment is the Enterprise Layer Manager., hereafter called the App Layering appliance. This appliance hosts the App Layering management console. The console lets you create layers and assign them to users either through layered images or through elastic layering.

By using App Layering you can create OS, App, and Platform layers once and use them to create any number of image templates from which you can publish layered images. You can update the software on a layer by adding a new version to the layer for each patch or update.

You can deploy virtually any applications compatible with the OS in an App layer. Each App layer can include one or more applications. When an application upgrade is ready, you can add a new version to the layer, and then roll out the latest update to users by adding the new version to your image templates.

Platform layers are designed to support your environment. A platform layer includes your hypervisor tools and settings. The tools and settings make it easy to create layers by using virtual machines in your hypervisor environment. A platform layer that includes your hypervisor, provisioning service, and connection broker software isolates App and OS layers from the infrastructure where they are published.

Connector configurations

The appliance uses connectors for accessing locations in your hypervisor environment or provisioning service.

You configure each connector with the credentials for a specific location in your virtual environment. Each of your connector configurations includes the credentials required for the appliance to do one of the following:

  • 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.