Novell launches more appliance building tools

Novell Inc. has announced a host of new tools aimed at helping independent software vendors build and manage software appliances, including an in-house version of its Linux-based SUSE Studio appliance building tool.


The company launched the Web-based SUSE Studio in July 2009 to simplify the way ISVs create software appliances, that can run on-premise or in a cloud, on top of SUSE Enterprise Linux.


With SUSE Studio Onsite, released on Tuesday, Novell is answering a call from the thousands of users who are using SUSE Studio as part of the company’s SUSE Appliance Program. The appliance initiative is aimed at helping ISVs build, test, update, configure, validate and eventually go-to-market with the software appliances they create.


“If ISVs can bring this all in-house, they might be able to accelerate the pace of development,” said Ross Chevalier, president of Novell Canada Ltd.


Organizations who have been clamoring for an on-premise SUSE Studio have cited lesser strain on bandwidth totals and a higher level of privacy as their top motivators, Chevalier added. He said this will give some organizations more confidence in building out larger and more comprehensive appliances.


In addition to the “behind the firewall” version of SUSE Studio, Novell’s newly released SUSE Appliance Toolkit also includes a lifecycle management tool that makes it easier for ISVs to distribute software updates, an WebYaSt application that can remotely configure SUSE Linux Enterprise, and support for the KIWI image creation tool.


Chevalier said the goal of the new tools is to make it even easier for ISVs to build and support the appliances they create for their customers.


The WebYaSt tool will be particularly useful, he said, because users who build out an appliance will be able to offer remote support or management for their non-technically savvy customers.


One such user, BitRock Inc., provides services for ISVs looking to easily deploy and update software. The company uses SUSE Appliance Platform to ties together software to all of its open source dependencies in an easy-to-deploy installation package.


This means that when ISVs roll out their software to their customers, the end users don’t have to be technically sophisticated to get their application installed.


Erica Brescia, CEO at BitRock’s Alameda, Calif.-based offices, said the company is using SUSE Studio to create some of its install packages.


While BitRock hasn’t started using SUSE Studio Onsite, the new tool could be attractive to some ISVs, she said. “It makes sense because people don’t like the idea of handing over prosperity software to a third party,” Brescia said.


Daniel Lopez Ridruejo, CTO and founder of BitRock, agreed, adding that because the functionality is basically the same as the online version, many customers will welcome the option.


Novell said ISVs can join the SUSE Appliance Program and receive the newly released SUSE Appliance Toolkit for free. Once an ISV wants to redistribute an appliance with a supported copy of SUSE Linux Enterprise, they then enter into an OEM agreement with Novell.


For enterprises interested in the toolkit, the price tag is set at US$100,000.

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