Novell has launched a free group of technologies that will allow developers to create and deploy software appliances that can run in any virtual environment.
The Suse Appliance Program, introduced on Tuesday, enables independent software vendors (ISVs) to create software appliances using the Suse Linux Enterprise platform. It includes the Suse Studio Online web-based appliance-building tool and the lightweight Suse JeOS (Just Enough Operating System) operating system, as well as a version of Suse Linux Enterprise Server designed to run in Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) environment.
The tools allow companies to quickly build a complete software stack for their application and then adapt that appliance for delivery in a physical, virtual or cloud environment, Novell said.
"What this means is for the first time you can create a software appliance to run internally on, say, VMware, and within seconds you can modify the appliance to run in a cloud environment like Amazon EC2," said Nat Friedman, chief technology officer for open source at Novell. "We're saving developers hundreds of hours in development and testing time, because of the range of support and partners available through this program."
Software appliances are pre-configured combinations of application, middleware and operating system that are integrated into a single image, which can be run on industry-standard hardware. Appliances are increasingly popular for SMEs and companies that need to roll out new technologies very quickly, according to Roy Illsley, a senior research analyst at the Butler Group.
HP, Adobe and IBM are among the software makers that will be offering their applications as an appliance in the Suse Appliance Program, according to Novell.
While software appliances are not new, Novell is the first vendor to provide a technology that allows appliances to run on different virtualisation engines, said Illsley. "Actually, being able to run something on VMware and Xen or EC2 is pretty revolutionary, although it will be interesting to see how easy it is to port an appliance from one environment to another," he said.
Companies can download the new technologies in the Suse Appliance Program package, which also includes a technical preview of the Suse Appliance Toolkit. This provides software to update, access and configure appliance-management capabilities. The full set of tools will be available later this year, Novell said.
Suse Studio is a free online service, although companies will pay separately for support. Suse Enterprise Linux for Amazon EC2 is priced at $19 (£11.60) per month and 10 cents per minute.