Windows Shopping: Georgia Tech Research Institute Automates Its Windows Applications

The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) found itself in the middle of an application conflagration when new, Oracle-based applications refused to share desktop space with older, internally-developed applications. GTRI considered several options to help the applications learn to coexist, but, eventually, turned to Chicago-Soft's WALLS implementation that allows GTRI to create packages, identify conflicts and insulate executables, simplifying the overall software-deployment process.

Sometimes, applications in the MS-Windows environment just can’t get along. Typically, coexistence problems occur when deployed applications require different versions of the same, shared Windows components and registry settings. And, most times, despite best efforts by professionals responsible for installation and integration, the inability of unique applications to successfully co-exist remains unnoticed until failures occur when users attempt to execute one or the other.

At the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), a nonprofit applied research organization, application co-existence was threatened when the implementation of Georgia Institute of Technolgy’s new, campus-wide, Oracle-based packaged systems severely disrupted operation of GTRI-wide business critical applications developed internally in PowerBuilder. According to Keith Watson, Systems Support Specialist III and the Administrative Information Systems Team’s lead designer for client systems, the new implementation of PeopleSoft and Banner, combined with the existence of GTRI’s applications was similar to mixing gasoline and matches throughout the expansive GTRI desktop environment. "We had our older GTRI applications working just fine," he explains. "The problem arose when other Georgia Tech IT groups installed the packaged applications and caused collisions. We quickly discovered that they could not run together on the same desktop and required different versions of the same, shared Windows components."

Furthermore, Watson notes, is that the installs of the new systems were performed in decentralized fashion by various campus groups throughout GTRI, occurring independently and as needed, to meet the requirements of the many departments in the user community. "We had no control over these groups and had to get out of their way so they could implement," he says. "But, we had to find a way to make sure all applications remained available and operative."

While GTRI explored options ranging from writing and supporting customized scripts for each desktop to installing separate machines on the desk of each person requiring access to each unique application, it was the implementation of WALLS (from Chicago Soft) that facilitated application coexistence without failure. WALLS helps safeguard and leverage Windows investments, provide faster application availability and reduce downtime for deployed packaged and internally-developed business systems. WALLS delivers automated application integrity management with components designed to analyze application stability, resolve application conflicts, package and insulate critical business systems and examine application failures within the Windows operating system.

For GTRI, WALLS allowed each Oracle-based application to maintain its own registry settings under the Oracle registry keys through the a feature called "Registry Redirection." WALLS Registry Redirection transparently "pushes" all application access away from the standard registry keys to the insulated and isolated application-specific registry keys. This allows the application to access the settings in the application specific location without having to alter the application.

"By providing the ability to redirect and insulate individual applications and thereby avoid execution failures," says Watson, "WALLS helped us improve the quality of Windows deployment and the stability of our systems."

Continue on to Part II