Virtual Appliances – A New Standard for Software Delivery

A virtual appliance is a preconfigured software solution that makes it possible to package, maintain, update and manage one or more virtual machines together as a single unit.

VirtualApplianceAs virtualization adoption is increasing, customers are now ready for a new and modern software delivery system that can take advantage of the benefits of virtual infrastructures. The current approach which consisted of installing an OS followed by the application layers is on its way out.  This approach to software delivery is costly and complex, especially when it came to enterprise software.  Let’s be honest with each other, over the last decade several software vendors were selling smoke. The demo during the pre-sales presentation always went well but the minute you got the bits and tried to make it work in your environment…no luck.

Working with an Enterprise HP Software Partner over the last couple of years I had the opportunity to architect, install and deploy the various layers of the HP BSM Portfolio. Although I now consider HP’s BSM portfolio as best of breed enterprise software it was rather complicated to integrate.  Notice I say was rather complicated and not is rather complicated! This is because we solved a business problem by leveraging the virtual appliance base delivery methodology. Moving to an appliance base software delivery had several advantages;

  • Try and Buy is now very simple and attractive.
  • Reduced the cost of owning and operating software for the customer
  • Shortened the sales cycle – No more smoke!
  • Gave the customer the option to deploy in a Private, Public or Hybrid Cloud

This is example of how I leveraged the virtual appliance software delivery to tackle a business problem . Just last week while at LifeSize Tech Day  we had a similar conversation.  LifeSize provides HD Video Conferencing Solutions to Midsize customers and have also opted to provide their LifeSize UVC Platform as an appliance-based architecture. Simply install the virtual appliance, give the UVC Appliance an IP address and you are ready to begin managing your HD Video Conferencing Solution. This approach to delivery has provided several advantages to LifeSize while the customer enjoys a low total cost of ownership and ease of deployment.

As the community is growing VMware has been a driving force. A large ecosystem of virtual appliances has surfaced in a short period of time. Customers are really starting to understand the advantages as it takes the load off their operational staff and allows them to move from reactive to proactive.  As VMware is leading this shift they co-authored the Open Virtualization Format  (OVF) specification. An open, secure, portable, efficient and extensible format for the packaging and distribution of software to be run in virtual machines. The OVF specification is backed by the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF)  and almost every major virtualization vendor, including Dell, HP, IBM, and Microsoft, as an industry standard format of choice for virtual appliances.

There are several more companies that have ventured down the same path, visit the VMware Virtual Appliance Marketplace. Next time you purchase you’re a technology solution, ask if it is delivered as a virtual appliance J

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