Building software appliances may become a standard way for distributing software in the future because the operating system can be stripped down by a specialist to just the parts that are needed. General purpose components are omitted. That lets the combination perform more efficiently. Software appliances are also coming into vogue as a way to build and package a virtual machine in a single digital file that can then be moved around in the data center or sent to a cloud.
Novell has expertise in the SUSE version of Linux, which it owns, and its configured the SUSE Appliance Toolkit to reflect that expertise, said Matt Richards, director of emerging technology marketing. Novell will make the toolkit freely available for use on premises to application suppliers and independent software vendors as a way of encouraging use of its SUSE Linux, he said.
"You can select full install (of SUSE Linux) and use tools to lean it down, or you can start with the bare minimum of Linux," he noted. A user of the tool needs to have a working knowledge of Linux, but the SUSE Studio Onsite part of the toolkit will supply much of the expertise needed to start with a minimal version, then build it up into just enough operating system. SUSE Studio Onsite has been in use since last July and been used to build over 250,000 appliances so far, Richards said.
"You can get away without being a tremendous expert in Linux. We make it as easy and fast as possible" to build appliances, he said in an interview.
Another part of the toolkit, WebYaST, allows remote reconfiguration of existing appliances. SUSE Lifecycle Management Server, a third piece of the toolkit, provides access control and a secure way to supply patches and updates to the appliance. The toolkit also supports KIWI, an image creation tool behind SUSE studio that generates the appliance through command line commands.
The toolkit will also be available at a price $100,000 for large enterprise users of SUSE Linux.