Virtual server appliance tools leave out the OS

AppZero's virtual application appliances don't include an operating system, avoiding potential licensing hassles.

AppZero is planning to showcase its tools for creating Virtual Application Appliances (VAAs) at this week's DEMO conference in Palm Desert, California.

In general, software appliances bundle an application with an operating system, allowing it to be deployed on hardware or as a virtual machine. But while AppZero's VAAs include the application's dependencies, such as configuration settings and executable code libraries, they leave out the operating system.

This provides customers with greater flexibility, said AppZero CEO Greg O'Connor.

Server appliances tend to use Linux as an underlying OS, due to Microsoft Windows licensing fees and rules. But with VAAs, for example, an ISV (independent software vendor) can ship an appliance to a customer that could then use Windows OS licenses they already have to run the appliances, he said.

AppZero is a "retargeting" of a vendor called Trigence. The new company is focused more on server applications than desktop programs, as well as enterprises that are experimenting with cloud computing.

A key emphasis of the latter push will be around mobility between clouds. On Tuesday at DEMO, AppZero plans to show how a VAA can be pushed up to Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, and then moved to GoGrid's cloud infrastructure in about one minute.

Since VAA's don't include an operating system, the target cloud or machine must have a compatible one. "If the application is [running on] Windows 2003 32-bit, then the cloud has to be Windows 2003 32-bit," O'Connor said.

Pricing is US$500 per VAA per year. Discounts are available for value-added resellers.

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Chris Kanaracus

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