With the beta launch of its SUSE Appliance Program, Waltham, Mass.-based Novell Inc. has climbed aboard the growing movement toward application appliances. The goal of the initiative: to enable independent software vendors (ISVs) to build new applications faster by creating stackable components that can be combined with programs to build customized applications, said Nat Friedman, Novell's chief technology and strategy officer for open source.
Novell introduced the first component of its appliance stack: SUSE Linux Enterprise JeOS, where JeOS stands for Just Enough Operating System. This is a capsule version of the SUSE Enterprise Linux 10, Service Pack 2, compressed to 84 MB, that will run exactly the same as the full operating system but is less cumbersome, Friedman said. In addition, ISVs can remove components of the JeOS mini-operating system, leaving only the elements required to run their particular applications. The full release of SUSE's Linux Appliance is scheduled for later this year.
"Appliances are a megatrend in industry, enabled by virtualization," Friedman said. "This is a huge shift in how ISVs deliver applications. Instead of acquiring and configuring the operating system themselves, they get a single virtual image with everything -- the operating system, middleware and lifecycle management -- everything they need to do this successfully."
Brett Waldman, an IDC analyst, said the adoption of application appliances ultimately will help data centers by simplifying application operations.
"Integrated packages make patching and maintenance incredibly simple," he said. "Once management tools are in place, these appliances will be managed just like any other applications and we'll move close to the dynamic IT center that all vendors are talking about."
Waldman observed, however, that Red Hat Inc. was first off the block with an appliance project but that both are still in development.
"The real differentiators will be who gets the best tools and services," Waldman said. "Right now, neither has delivered. It's just a concept. The addition of automated tools for regression testing and other tasks will be crucial."
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