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November 04, 2010

Why Use A Virtual Appliance for Appliance Deployment?

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

It’s a good question: Yes, “cloud computing” is certainly the flavor of the month, might even be here to stay, but why use a virtual appliance in the first place?

Cloud computing and Software as a Service are viable options for businesses today, and enterprise software vendors need a scalable platform solution for deploying cloud-ready applications. According to a recent white paper from NEI (News - Alert), Gartner estimates that the cloud computing market will grow to $126 billion by 2012 and up to $150 billion in 2013.

But is there any compelling reason why you should switch, just because a lot of other people are? This growth, the NEI paper finds, “will stress many software developers who seek a reliable platform technology to help them succeed. Appliance platforms offer software vendors a great way to deploy their applications as either physical, virtual or hybrid solutions for private, public and mixed environments.”

Virtual data centers and cloud computing models share and use resources, software and information delivered via the Internet to servers, computers and other connected devices, as NEI explains: “With the use of cloud computing, users can avoid the fixed capital expenditures associated with hardware, software and services by paying a provider for only the resources or services consumed.”

So there’s that. On the other hand, you have to decide if security issues are overriding for your company. Plus, lots of people sleep better at night knowing their software’s in their hands, not somebody else’s.

Virtual appliances do offer a natural progression, an enhanced model for software delivery and maintenance for both application providers and their customers. As a result, the NEI paper finds, “it’s an effective way for enterprise software vendors to blend and expand their physical and virtual deployments as private and public clouds become mainstream over time.”

As the NEI paper rightfully emphasizes, the main difference between a software and hardware appliance deployment is resource sharing versus dedicated hardware: “A hardware appliance uses fixed processing, memory and storage capacity – all tuned to the product’s requirements. A virtual appliance, by contrast, operates in an environment where processing, memory and storage are shared resources.”

The drawback here is that this can introduce I/O latency and other performance-related issues if the virtual data center or cloud structure does not have timely access to necessary compute resources -- your employees might be disgruntled that their Facebook (News - Alert) pages are running a bit slow.

But as the paper notes, “designing and building an appliance solution that is versatile enough for both physical and virtual appliances can easily be achieved by analyzing the various options and making choices based on the application and market needs.”

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

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A computing entity that delivers predefined service(s) through an application-specific interface with no accessible operating software
Definition of an Appliance
Gartner, Inc.

White Papers

How to Deliver Software as a Purpose-Built Appliance
Gaining the Business Benefits, Avoiding the Pitfalls
Energy Star Specifications for Enterprise-Class Servers
What Application Software Vendors Need to Know and Why the Intel® Xeon® 5500 Microarchitecture Will Help Achieve Compliance

Success Stories

Endace Selects NEI to Support Rapidly Growing Systems Business
Endace is a leading provider of next-generation, high-speed network monitoring and recording systems. Its solutions are guaranteed to capture 100% of packets at speeds up to 100 Gb/s and easily optimized for a wide range of monitoring and security applications.
NEI Enables Alert Logic to Scale its Business by More Than 40%
The task of securing enterprise data and ensuring compliance can be daunting, particularly as the use of mobile devices grows and computing environments evolve.
Bringing Cross Domain Security from Software to Hardware
ITT-AES Chooses NEI for a Comprehensive Approach to Product Development
Modus Operandi: Taking Email Security to the Next Level
NEI Brings Flexibility and Cost-Effectiveness to Vircom's ModusGate Solutions


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Thrive in '09 - Strategies to Increase Efficiencies and Keep Costs Down Featuring Vircom
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NEI speaks out on Energy Star server ratings
Listen to eWEEK's podcast with NEI about the impact of Energy Star ratings on servers
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Learn how smart services can improve lifecycle management, reduce operating expenses and grow revenue

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