RealTime IT News

Linux Appliances Get New rPaths

The Linux appliance market for the most part has been more about building appliances than managing them. Today, rPath is taking care of both.

The Linux appliance vendor is making announcements on both the building and maintenance of Linux appliance fronts. The rPath Appliance Platform extends the manageability of the Linux appliance for a more complete lifecycle, though rPath's founder and CEO admits there is still much to be done.

The new rPath Appliance Platform expands on the rPath Appliance Agent (RAA), which was rolled out last year. With RAA, users can control setup, configuration and updates for the rPath-based Linux appliances.

The Appliance Platform provides for wider manageability and deployment options than RAA does on its own. Billy Marshall, rPath CEO, explained that the Appliance Platform provides a more complete post-creation lifecycle experience for appliance developers and users.

The platform includes an update service that lets users deploy or rollback updates. The new entitlement service allows for the provisioning and management of licenses for appliances. There is also a backup service in the platform that provides automatic and scheduled backup for appliances.

The build side of Linux-based appliances is also getting help from rPath with the release of rPath Builder 3.0.

The new version extends the virtualization image capability that rPath Builder provides. Previously rPath Builder provided VMware player images, but now it will do offer VMware ESX, which is VMware's commercial product line.

Builder 3.0 also includes VMware tools for images that provide specialized drivers and other tools that go inside the virtual machine and improve performance and responsiveness.

In addition, rPath Builder 3.0 will produce both Xen and Microsoft VHD virtualization formats. Marshall commented that rPath is not licensing the VHD format from Microsoft but is just following the published specifications. He added that VHD is provided as a part of Microsoft's open patent promise, which allows for use without fear of any sort of legal intellectual property issues.

Though rPath has a head start in the Linux appliance market, Novell is about to enter the market as well with its OpenSUSE KIWI effort.

With KIWI users can build their own OpenSUSE Linux custom distribution with the future step according to Novell being a full robust alliance model.

Rpath's founder isn't particularly worried about Novell's entry into his market.

"The biggest issue Novell is going to face in attempting to enter this market is that their business revolves around the general-purpose operating system and the golden-disk model," Marshall said. "What they do is worthwhile and what anyone else does is inferior and not, quote, 'certified.'"

"I think they'll have a lot of internal strife putting control in the hands of application developers as opposed to having control in their own hands of providing a 'certified' operating system."

Though rPath is expanding the Linux appliance model with the new platform release, Marshall admitted that there is still more to do to make it easier for both developers and users.

"We've got to continue to build in elegant management capabilities into the platform," Marshall said. "We've now built back-up in, for example this time, but what about monitoring and call home and all those things that create an experience that is truly turnkey for customers, and ISVs can be in control of the experience without having to go and build specialized tools.

"There are lots of things we can do to make this experience more elegant and more autonomous for the end consumer of the application," Marshall added. "We're just at the beginning here."