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Flexera Alumni

March 2023 Roundtable Q&A Overflow

The following questions came up during the March 2023 Packaging Experts Roundtable session. Most were answered, but a couple were not. We will endeavor to ensure all questions get answered here in the community, particularly when there isn’t time to address them during the live session.

Q: For a Medium size company with 10,000 devices, what is the size of the MECM (SECM) team to support OSD, Updates, App deployment, etc.?  Just curious about what other companies are doing.

A: Often, a packaging team is between four and seven people. A company of this size will frequently separate the roles of managing the endpoint management system and creating the packages used by it. It seems that about this size, the number of people dedicated to packaging and deployment seems to top out at around seven people. Frequently there is a broad range of experience on these teams, so all are intentionally not equal contributors. The more challenging packages and package review responsibilities will go to the more senior packagers, and less experienced contributors are often rotated in and out from other support and administrative roles in the company.

Q: Do you see many organizations using AdminStudio to migrate SCCM deployments to Intune Win32 installs?

A: With Intune adoption continuing to soar, this is a more and more frequent scenario. AdminStudio’s ability to import packages from SCCM and publish them to Intune makes it ideal for this activity. With all packages in the Application Catalog, customers understand what they have and may easily wrap them to the IntuneWin format for publishomg to Intune in a consistent, automated way. The popularity of this scenario has us further investigating a more automated end-to-end migration capability—today, wrapping to IntuneWin format cannot be done in bulk. If you are interested in our investing more effort here, please let us know here in the Ideas area of the community.

Q: During all the innovations that you each have come across, what was your biggest Ah-Ha moment?

It is surprising how challenging a question like this can be to answer, but we each took a shot...

Bob: With packaging in mind, I would say it was realizing how pervasive the challenge of packaging is for organizations of all sizes. As an administrator, I would spend a lot of time searching and testing to figure out a way to automate the customized installation of an application. I knew there were others trying to do the same but never really thought about just how many there probably were. It wasn’t until a few people tried to convince me that packaging was not broadly interesting in the early days of, that I really considered the fact that every building in every city had at least one person that cared quite a lot and would benefit greatly from helpful information and tools. That urged me to keep at AppDeploy for the few years it took to catch on and eventually grow to be acquired and rebuilt while exposing opportunities for me to write, speak, and eventually lead the AdminStudio product! Glad I didn't listen to those naysayers!

Kiran: For me, it is the Package Support Framework from Microsoft. It enables the resolution of runtime issues even in the absence of source code, which was previously thought to be impossible. This is significant because it empowers package engineers to resolve issues that were previously beyond their control, requiring them to rely on vendors for solutions. The Package Support Framework is built on Microsoft's Detours technology. It is fascinating how the more than two decades old Detours technology was seen as relevant even today to be leveraged by the Package Support Framework to address some of the runtime issues of the modern package type from Microsoft - MSIX.

Mike: For me, I think it was when App Virtualization first came on the scene, particularly when Thinstall, later VMware ThinApp, was shown. I thought that was pretty neat… no install, instant launch application, and no agent on the endpoint needed.

Q: My issue with MSIX is the requirement to sign them with a certificate.  Managing over 500 App-V packages right now illustrates a nightmare in trying to manage the certificates for all applications.

A: This is a challenge for a lot of administrators, but it may not be as bad as it seems upfront. I think we all agree to the benefit from a security standpoint; it’s the management that is adding concern. We will endeavor to do a deeper dive into this topic, but to summarize, we recommend a single corporate signing certificate for your internal applications. You can set the expiration date for the certificate as far out as you like. If you have a hardware refresh cycle you follow, doubling that length of time may provide you with a safe buffer. For example, 6 or 7 years in the future if you have a 3-year hardware lifecycle policy.

Q: Is Flexera looking to add more PSF fixups to AdminStudio to resolve MSIX issues on make it easier to use Microsoft way of making part of the app non virtual?

A: AdminStudio supports all PSF fixups. You may even notice some not seen elsewhere. Our support for them has improved over time, so please be sure you are on the latest version for the best coverage and user experience.

Q: How to convert EXE to MSIX in AdminStudio; any help document?

A: You can do so just as you would repackage an MSI package with Repackager but chose to also generate an MSIX package in the last panel of the repackaging wizard. Additionally, you can do so using the Automated Application Converter tool and using the built-in package automation available in the package Backlog area of AdminStudio.

Documentation for this may be found at: Converting your Existing Packages to MSIX using Repackager Tool and Digital Signing. You may also want to check out Using the Application Conversion Project Wizard to Perform an End-to-End Conversion and Performing a Conversion Using the Application Conversion Wizard which are methods that support the generation of multiple formats, including MSIX.