Suppliers offering "virtual appliance servers" have often stopped by to brief me on their products and how they're going to take over the market in some segment or another. The most recent example was a really interesting discussion I had with Dave Asprey, VP of Marketing for Zeus Technology, about their take on a security appliance. It is based upon their ZXTM Virtual Appliance. Although it was presented as a first in the market, I'm aware of several other server appliances that are designed to enhance network and server security, including Catbird's Pocket V-Agent.
Although each of these products take a different approach, the goal in almost every case is offering a complex product in an easy-to-use, easy-to-install way. I once spoke to the CIO of a large insurance company who spoke of his "once and done" philosophy, that is find a way to do "it" once and be done with it. These products clearly have been developed based upon a similar philosophy. The product from Zeus is no different.
What's interesting about the product from Zeus is that its starting with a network traffic management product and extending it to become a product that can make the network more secure. I'm still digesting the information on the product and might post something else on this topic in the near future.
As an aside, while I was head of marketing for a software startup, the company experimented with a collaborative application virtual appliance. While the idea was sound, the implementation, in that case, was flawed. The appliance was too big to be easily and reliably downloaded in areas having spotty network reliability. There was no easy way to apply patches and updates to all of these virtual appliances. It also was not easy for "once and done" folks to understand that backup of the data inside of these appliances was just as important as backing up data that resided on physical systems.
Would your organization install an important function, such as security or traffic management, in the form of a virtual appliance? If so, why? If not, why not?