James Wouldn’t it be nice if the enterprise software world were on board with your server virtualization efforts? Imagine downloading the latest version of PeopleSoft or Crystal Reports in a virtual server format that could be loaded on to VMware ESX and would just run – no installation, no configuration hassles, just instantiate and go.

Well RedHat thinks this is a good model, too, and took action this week to make it easier for ISVs, and thus, enterprise deployers of their software. RedHat announced the RedHat Virtual Appliance Toolkit, an SDK ISVs can use to appliantize their applications. The toolkit provides a virtual server-optimized version of RHEL (RedHat Enterprise Linux) server and tools to help ISVs lock down a known-good configuration of their software and package together as a complete software stack that can be deployed with a single click.

Forrester is bullish on this virtual appliance approach — see the report The Case For Virtual Appliances — and this move by RedHat helps to legitimize this distribution method. To date only a handful of small toolkit vendors such as rPath and Network Engines have offered solutions for building virtual appliances and only a handful of commercial-grade applications are available today in appliance form (see the Virtual Appliance directory on VMware’s site for a full list). But Forrester expects this model to catch on in the next two years.

If you are in favor of this model, try a few of the commercially available options such as those from Business Objects and, if you like this distribution method, tell your key software providers. It will take support from leading enterprise customers, such as you, to drive demand for virtual appliances.

By James Staten

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