To date, Novell has had strong usage of its online SUSE Studio Linux appliance development service, with over 250,000 software appliances built. Even with that success, Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL) sees a need to expand the effort with a new SUSE Appliance Toolkit providing an on-premises version of SUSE Studio, as well as a new Lifecycle Management Server to manage appliance updates.
With SUSE Studio, users are able to build their own software appliance with an application running on top of a SUSE Linux operating system. The market of Linux-based software appliance was originally pioneered by rival rPath.The new on-premises version of SUSE Studio brings that same capability to enterprises and software vendors (ISVs) to run behind their own firewalls.
"SUSE Studio online is perfectly stable, but going on-premise is really more of a security concern, as the No. 1 reason why some people don't adopt the cloud is security," Matt Richards, director of emerging technology at Novell, told InternetNews.com. "Studio on-site is about providing a local, theoretically more secure approach. But with over 55,000 users and over 250,000 appliances built online, we're not really worried about it."
Richards added that the online version of SUSE Studio is updated every week, which is a pace that the on-premises version of SUSE Studio will not keep. While he noted that the on-site version will still get regular updates, they just won't be as rapid as the online service.
In terms of installing SUSE Studio locally, users will need to provision their own bare-metal server, as the application will not run in a virtualized environment. Likewise, a nested virtualization deployment that includes SUSE Studio deployed virtually, while using another virtualization engine to build appliances, will similarly not work, according to Richards.
However, Richards said that SUSE Studio itself is able to create virtual images for software appliance deployment.
The other key component of the SUSE Appliance Toolkit is the SUSE Lifecycle Management Server (SLMS). With SLMS, an ISV can manage software licenses and entitlements as well as distribute software patches and updates.
"If you've deployed appliance version 1.0 to 50 users, they'll each be in the SLMS system and they'll each get a unique URL for the update mechanism," Richards said. "The unique URL is how the system is able to check to make sure the user is entitled to receive the patches and updates."
The SLMS is only available as an on-premises solution and is now being delivered in a cloud model by Novell.
"Right now, most ISVs that we talk to say they want SLMS locally," Richards said. "We say this is all targeted for ISVs, but you could see a scenario where a channel partner of an ISV wanted to manage the entitlement and distribution on behalf of the ISV, which is allowed."
Moving forward, the goal for Novell is expand what the SUSE Appliance Toolkit enables ISVs to do.
"For the appliance program, the next steps are about growing the footprint," Richard said. "At this point, we have a suite of tools, so now it's about building the ecosystem ... it's not just about building an appliance."