Wouldn't it be great to have all of your DBA tools on a USB stick and have them just work without installing anything or copying any files? Is is at least partially possible! You know the problem: You visit a client and you aren't allowed to install anything on their computers or connect your laptop to their network. Just for research purposes, I decided to see if agentless application virtualization could help. I downloaded a trial version of Thinstall and virtualized SQL Server Management Studio, SQL Profiler, and the rest of the tools that come with a full client-only installation of SQL Server 2005.
The entire suite of virtualized SQL Server 2005 client tools was about 660 MB. SSMS and the Database Engine Tuning Advisor worked. BOL and SQL Profiler did not. Because I can't use the virtualized applications after the Thinstall evaluation period, I didn't do any troubleshooting or tweaking of the apps that didn't run. This was just a proof of concept exercise.
Licensing of virtual applications might be a bigger challenge than the technical ones. From a licensing compliance perspective, the ideal applications to virtualize are those which are licensed per person. You would buy the tools you need, virtualize them, and take them with you wherever you'd go. I wonder if there is a marketing opportunity for software vendors. They could buy the virtualization software and provide a virtualized copy of their application. I'd like to buy applications that just work, no installation needed. Installing applications is so last millenium! It's not always feasible to virtualize an application, but when it works, it can be very useful.