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Virtual Machines: The New Container for Software Distribution

Is virtualization technology changing the software distribution paradigm for developers? VMware thinks so. As evidence, the company points to its newly launched VMware Technology Network Web site, where some of the industry's biggest ISVs are making their software available prepackaged in virtual machines.

"If you take a step back and look at these ISVs distributing their software prepackaged in virtual machines on our new site," says VMware group product manager Srinivas Krishnamurti, "it’s clear that the VM is becoming the container for software distribution."

Launched this week, the new VMTN Web site is an online development resource center that features a collection of pre-built VMs from some brand name vendors, including Oracle, BEA, Red Hat, Novell and MySQL.

The VMTN will also publish a range of technical content, including articles, how-tos, white papers and documentation for VMware's products. It'll also provide access to peer-to-peer discussion forums with developers and IT professionals who want to share best practices for developing and deploying applications in virtual environments.

All of the pre-packaged VMs are free to anyone who comes to the site, says Krishnamurti, as is the technical content.

EMC subsidiary VMware is a provider of virtual infrastructure software, probably best-known for its virtualization of the x86 architecture and full hardware resource management products. The company's VMware Workstation is desktop virtualization software for developers and testers that allows users to run multiple x86-based operating systems, including Windows, Linux and NetWare, and their applications simultaneously on a single PC in fully networked, portable virtual machines.

VMs are rapidly becoming the software distribution and packaging vehicle of choice for developers, Krishnamurti argues, for two reasons: VMs provide a straightforward mechanism that allows them to promote application best practices into their software distribution packages, and VMs dramatically simplify the out-of-box experience for developers looking to test or build on new software platforms.

"Instead of giving out CDs or DVDs, ISVs now have the option of saying, look, we’ll just give you a working VM that you can copy and start using our product," Krishnamurti says. He points to Oracle as an example; the company has been shipping its 10g product in a VM for almost a year.

The new VMTN Web site will also offer a suite of VMware products for an annual subscription fee. The VMTN Subscription includes the recently released VMware Workstation 5, the VMware GSX Server for development and test environments, the VMware ESX Server with Virtual SMP that is used extensively in the data center, and the VMware P2V Assistant for moving physical configurations to virtual.

The VMTN Subscription will be available beginning June 13 via download from the VMTN Web site for $299 per user annually. A Media Kit with CDs and manuals may be purchased separately for $99. For more information, visit: www.vmware.com/vmwarestore.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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