The new Configuration Manager Application Catalog represents a great opportunity for you to deliver self-service application installation to your company’s users. By modeling the applications and publishing them in the Application Catalog, you can offer up a service that makes installing applications quick and easy for your end-users. Because the Application Catalog only shows applications that are deployed to the user, your end users also get a tailored experience just for their job role. To make the most effective use of the Application Catalog and ensure you’re delivering the best experience possible, here are a few tips we’ve learned from real world deployments.
Site System Role Installation
If you’re hosting less than 10,000 users in your company’s intranet, co-locating the Application Catalog web service and Application Catalog website roles on the same server should work just fine. Remember that the web service role connects directly to your database, so ensure that the network connectivity between the SQL server and the Application Catalog web service servers is robust. Refer to the product documentation for specific scalability guidance.
If you’re hosting more than 10,000 users, or when you have more geographically distributed users, consider deploying additional application catalogs to keep responsiveness high and user satisfaction up. Use client settings to configure collections of computers to use different Application Catalog servers.
For deployments with two or more primary sites, it helps to have at least one set of Application Catalog roles per primary site. When you configure the Computer Agent client settings, set the Default Application Catalog Website point value to Automatically detect and the system will take care of assigning the local Application Catalog role for clients in each primary site.
For deployments that need to scale out, (especially as it relates to Application Catalog performance) it’s better to scale out by using separate primaries rather than installing a second Application Catalog role for the same primary site as the existing Application Catalog. Doing so will allow the Application Catalog web service roles to communicate with a different SQL Server database and provide a better end user experience.
The User Experience
The Application Catalog has code running in the browser but the user’s experience is heavily dependent the data exchange with the catalog web server. Some caching takes place on the Application Catalog web roles for performance optimization, but several factors influence the overall performance and responsiveness of the Application Catalog:
Tell me about the applications!
Great descriptions for your applications are critical. It’s amazing to watch users browse through a screen full of text. Some users are very deliberate and read every word, but most simply scan for key words. Some users use visual recognition of the application icon. Whatever the style of user, plan to accommodate the most typical ones as you fill out your Application Catalog metadata. Here are some specific best practices:
Thanks for making it through this blog! You now have some new tools at your disposal to deliver a great self-service application catalog to your users.
For more information about the Application Catalog, see Introducing the Application Catalog and Software Center in System Center 2012 Configuration Man... on this blog, and Configuring the Application Catalog and Software Center in Configuration Manager on TechNet.
-- Dave Randall
This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties and confers no rights.
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