Virtual Appliances Made Easy With Oracle Linux

0811_3It’s no surprise that most of today’s IT world lives within a virtual computing environment.  The ability to cut costs, save energy, and reduce hardware footprint are just a few of the many advantages of being virtual.  However, the pains and headaches of installing operating systems and other various software applications still persist.  Enter the beauty of the virtual appliance.

A virtual appliance is a pre-configured, self-contained virtual machine that typically includes a pre-installed minimal operating system along with other desired software applications.  Virtual appliances are usually exported as an OVF (Open Virtualization Format) file.  This file can be re-deployed to an existing virtual environment, then simply turned on for use.

During the build process of our Sightline EDM virtual appliance, Oracle Linux was selected for several benefits including:

  • Free and redistributable operating system
  • Reliable, tested operating system from a trusted company
  • Option for enterprise-class support at a significantly lower cost from Oracle if needed
  • Small footprint with a minimal OS install
  • Quick operating system boot, which leads to faster Sightline software startup.

Many obstacles were presented while building the Sightline appliance. However, the finished product made the journey well worth the time.  Creating the appliance not only involved installing Oracle Linux and our software, but also included a number of system configurations,  such as:

  • Setting the software services to start up in a certain order on system boot.
  • Opening firewall ports.
  • Adding a few simple scripts to pre-populate files before being read on system boot.

Different applications will require different needs from the system, so not all journeys will share the same path when creating an appliance. Some paths may be harder than others, but in either case, the finalized appliance can be extremely beneficial to both vendors and their customers, as the appliance can:

  • Simplify deployment – users won’t have to worry about resolving any potential errors from installing all the required components needed for the software application to function. The appliance can simply be deployed and started without the hassle.
  • Become an excellent selling tool – the last thing a salesperson needs is to watch the customer run into a problem with installation. Even with a sales engineer by their side to help fix the problem, the situation can leave an embarrassing mark for a company. The ease of deployment through an appliance allows the salesperson to focus on what they do best: present and sell a good product from a team that knows what it is doing.
  • Reduce customer costs – since the appliance comes pre-installed with a redistributable operating system, customers won’t have to worry about using or obtaining any extra licenses to stand up a clean OS to install a vendor product.

With the creation of any virtual appliance, there’s a great deal of planning and strategy in order to ensure a great product presentation. At the conclusion of the project, Oracle Linux was clearly the right choice. Not only did it give us a free and distributable operating system — it answered our customers’ needs for support, reliability and dependability.