Software, as a service, on a client

Software, as a service, on a client

Summary: Thanks to a combination of Internet hiccups and service outages by hosted services like Salesforce.com, some folks may be turning off on rented applications that are hosted remotely. But not (necessarily) rented applications.

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Want to rent out a Linux application that can run on an ordinary Windows box with VMWare?

Keith Boswell (right) has a deal for you.

Boswell is vp-marketing with rPath, a company that has turned $6.4 million in venture capital into rBuilder, which does what I just described.

Let's let Boswell explain it himself.  "rBuilder takes a look at the application, combines the files it needs with our version of Linux and turns it into an application image. It’s an enabling platform." The kernel comes from the company's own rPath Linux.

Boswell hopes independent software vendors who want to get into the mass market, sell software as a service, and get paid will flock to him.  Maybe they will.

Thanks to a combination of Internet hiccups and service outages by hosted services like Salesforce.com, some folks may be turning off on rented applications that are hosted remotely. But not (necessarily) rented applications.

"What we’re offering ISVs is a way to take their application, that would normally be put on Solaris or RedHat, and bundle it with the necessary bits of the operating system it needs to run, then offer it in software that includes the installer, kernel, and system libraries." No extra operating system support is necessary. VMWare on a Windows box will do it.

Because of the way the product is architected, it can be cut-off once a rental agreement expires, or renewed again-and-again. You don't have to sell the customer on Linux, just your application. And it's good for the customer, Boswell insists.

"If you’re a small business without a large IT shop you don’t want to administer operating systems. You want something that’s easy to deploy, easy to manage, and delivers a result."

Then, later, after the customer sees what a Linux application can do, then you can sell a stack, sell a system, and deliver support the old-fashioned way.

Sound good? Boswell, an industry veteran and James Madison University graduate (Go Dukes) hopes so.

Think of it as a Linux starter set.

Topic: Operating Systems

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3 comments
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  • Virtualization is a horrid idea

    You do realise, of course, that it is cheaper to get two servers adequetely provisioned to meet the needs of having two OS's running and the their applications, than one server beefy enough to run two OS's simultaneously? Why in the world would anyone want to do this? Do you really think that it is such a hot idea to try loading five VMs on one server to run 5 applications? This may be one of the silliest ideas I've heard since I left work this afternoon. I'm sure it will be topped by whatever I hear in my early morning conference call tomorrow, of course ("can we get that icon in cornflower blue?").

    J.Ja
    Justin James
    • Disagree strongly

      Virtualization is a great enabler. I can create a customized computing environment on demand. VMs are easily transportable, even between different host OS's which makes them great for disaster recovery. They are also great for security, testing, etc. The possibilities are endless.

      Sounds like you need to expand your horizons a bit. :-)
      mosborne
      • All very true

        Yes, this is all very true, but none of it applies to what the author is talking about. The author is talking about running these VMs full time as self-contained applications. Each VM requires N + X resources, where N is trhe resources required by the OS and applications running within in, and X is the resources required by the VM itself. If N + X = 2 gHz worth of CPU and 2 GB worth of memory, it is cheaper to buy 2 machines at 2 gHz/2GB RAM than a 4 gHz/4GB RAM machine. That's why I think virtualization is a bad idea for "always on" situation such as servers, unless you have a VM where N + X is in the order of "500 hMz/128 MB RAM". For instance, having a beefy server running a bunch of tiny Linux or BSD installations would work well. But at that point, you need to ask yourself why you need a zillion tiny *Nix installs running on the same hardware instead of simply having all of those applications run under one OS instance.

        It is very difficult to justify VMs in an "always on", "this is how we do things all day long" situation. I am extremely open minded to the idea, but not a single person has been able to show me how this makes sense on either a technical or a business level.

        J.Ja
        Justin James