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The webinar Deploy Complex Apps in a Whole New Way provided a brief overview of one of today’s hottest topics (Docker) and outlined the difference between Docker and virtual appliances. We’ve captured the webinar’s top questions and answers here. Plus, we’ve thrown in some resource links to help you sort it all out. You can find more answers in the InstallAnywhere 2015 documentation, or you can contact us directly. And don’t forget the Flexera Community; start a string and share your insights.

  1. Q: What is the difference between Docker and any other application virtualization solution like App-V?  
    A: Docker is for distributed applications in the datacenter or running in the cloud, while App-V is for desktop apps.
  2. Q: How does the build process for the virtual appliance or container deal with custom code or scripts that are normally run during the installation process on the target system?  
    A: We run the installer into that virtual space. It’s actually installing your apps. Anything that installer would be doing is being done in that virtual space. So we start the virtual environment, run your installer and all its logic, and save the results of that as a Docker image or virtual appliance. That way all your logic and everything is captured.
  3. Q: Our installer prompts for a lot of information. So we would need to provide default responses for all prompts in order for the Docker container to run, right?  
    A: Correct, InstallAnywhere asks for command switches and parameters that you want to pass to your installer that we'll use when building your Docker container or virtual appliance.
  4. Q: Assuming that the application layer is separate from the database layer–would you put the database into its own Docker container? And, if so, how do you ensure that the application Docker containers talk to the correct database container?
    A: Docker has extensive documentation on best practices for managing data for containerized applications. Check it all out here:
  5. Q: Will a Windows container run on an existing Microsoft Server OS, such as Server 2012 R2?  
    A: That's a question for Microsoft, but so far, all indications are that this will be a feature of Windows Server 2016.
  6. Q: Which Amazon Web Service should we use with Docker?  
    A: Within Amazon EC2, when you build a new environment, you have a few options. You can choose to provide your own Docker image and upload that directly. Amazon and Azure also have integration with the Docker Hub. The Docker Hub is Docker’s cloud service for sharing images. You can have a baseline image that might have the LAMP stack, for example, so you don’t have to build all that out. You can build on top of that. So you would go to the Docker Hub, InstallAnywhere can do this as well. Within InstallAnywhere, you can browse the Docker Hub and find that base image to use as a starting point, or find one based on UBUNTU or Red Hat, or one that has the whole LAMP stack preinstalled and configured and optimized for Docker and then install your application on top of that. Then Amazon, Azure and InstallAnywhere can all interact with that Docker Hub. See these resources from Amazon and Azure for specifics about their integration with Docker and virtual appliances.
  7. Q: Does InstallAnywhere provide tools to generate the two hard disk formats in virtual appliances?  
    A: InstallAnywhere's Virtual Appliances use VMware's VSDK format, which is required for Amazon Workspaces and VMware Hypervisors. We have looked at Hyper-V and would like to hear back from you whether that is something that’s important to you and you would like us to have direct support. There are tools out there that can convert the VSDK to Microsoft's VHD format for use on Hyper-V, including Hyper-V itself.
  8. Q: Do you need Docker running somewhere to do a build?  
    A: Docker has to be running somewhere that InstallAnywhere can access. It doesn't have to be the same build server.
  9. Q: Is InstallAnywhere part of AdminStudio?  
    A: No, InstallAnywhere and AdminStudio are separate products for different audiences. InstallAnywhere helps multiplatform software developers build installations for all the platforms they support, which has traditionally been Windows, Linux, and Mac. Now with Docker and virtual appliances, we’ve extended our platform support to the cloud. AdminStudio is more focused around the enterprise use case of consuming applications and preparing them for internal deployment. We welcome any feedback from you on how you would want to use Docker or virtual appliances in your enterprise with AdminStudio.
  10. Q: How does Docker handle installation maintenance mode, such as add/remove features?  
    A: Add-run programs will be a Windows feature. We don’t know yet where the Windows containers are going to handle the maintenance mode. You can open up that Docker virtual space/container space in edit mode and do maintenance and changes in there. So you can load that up, power on, make changes and commit those changes. You shouldn’t have to repair an app, because it’s non-persistent. You put it in a defined state, and every time that powers on, it’s going to be in that defined state. So if you wanted to reconfigure or make changes to that state, you can open that container in edit mode and recommit any changes you’ve made.
  11. Q: Is there any migration path for an existing InstallShield 2015 MSI project (non-UI) to a Docker image?  
    A: That’s on our roadmap, so stay tuned. We are definitely looking at that in the Windows container space. We would love to hear your interest in containers in the Windows market, to really help us drive that roadmap.
  12. Q: For InstallShield users, do we have to totally restart from zero to make our deployment with InstallAnyWhere?
    A: InstallShield is for Windows applications, while InstallAnywhere is for Multiplatform, like Linux and Java applications. There is not a process to convert InstallShield installs to InstallAnywhere, but our Professional Services can help you fast track any installation development needs.


InstallAnywhere is the leading multiplatform development solution for application producers who need to deliver a professional and consistent cross installation experience for physical, virtual and cloud environments. From a single project file and build environment, InstallAnywhere creates reliable installations for on-premises platforms – Windows, Linux, Apple OS X, Solaris, AIX , HP-UX, and IBM iSeries – and enables you to take existing and new software products to a virtual and cloud infrastructure and build Docker containers.  Get your free trial of InstallAnywhere or contact us for more information. 

InstallShield® is the world's leading Windows installation development solution. InstallShield is designed to enable development teams to be more agile, collaborative and flexible when building reliable InstallScript and Windows Installer MSI installations for desktop, server, Web, virtual and traditional applications. The software installer of choice for today's sophisticated application producers, InstallShield is the only software installer that can directly convert MSIs to Microsoft App-V virtual packages. Get your free trial of InstallShield today or contact us for more information.