DEMO Report: Startup Virtualizes Apps, Not Operating Systems

By taking an application-centric approach, Trigence says it can better ensure that the application will run in its new setting.
Startup Trigence wants to bring a new form of virtualization into the data center, one that focuses on the application rather than starting with a virtualized version of the operating system the way VMware's VMware Server and Microsoft's Virtual Server do. For Trigence, virtualization stops short of producing an actual virtual machine, a set of digital files often representing an operating system and application combo that's been assigned a share of the server's memory, processor, and storage resources.

By taking this application-centric approach, the company says its Trigence AE system can better ensure that the application will run in its new setting, which might be either a straightforward, conventional server or a VMware, Microsoft, or open source Xen virtual machine.

Virtualized applications, or "capsules," as Trigence calls them, capture an application "in a known, good state" and ensure that the application has everything it needs as it's moved into a new environment, said David Roth, CEO, during a stage demonstration Wednesday at the DEMO show in San Diego.

Why wouldn't it arrive in a good state without Trigence? Every system operator knows the answer to that question. Variations in operating systems, files that the application depends on that remain locked up under the old operating system, and other small, unforeseeable differences spell big operations trouble for the application once it's expected to run in its new environment.

Trigence addresses the problem by installing a controller on the target host, which monitors calls for files that the application needs and knows what to do with them. It's possible a file, such as Solaris 10's Grep file, is on the host, and the controller will redirect calls aimed at Solaris 9's version to the new host's Grep.

The controller, officially know as Trigence AE Capsule Controller, works with another piece of software, the Trigence AE Capsule Creator, which observes the applications running on the old server and maps its dependencies. In a few cases, the application might need the Solaris 9 version of a file, and the Capsule Creator will recognize the dependency and make sure the old version gets installed with the application.

Together, the Capsule Creator and the Capsule Controller supply the intelligence needed to ensure that the virtualized application runs in its new environment. The Trigence AE system currently works when moving applications from Solaris 9 to Solaris 10 or between Red Hat Linux and Novell Suse Linux.

"We learn what files the application needs in its new environment and bring them forward," said Donn Rochette, CTO of Trigence, in an interview.

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing