Novell is expanding the capabilities of its SUSE Appliance Toolkit for building and maintaining Linux-based software appliances. The new SUSE Appliance Toolkit 1.1 release adds a menu of new deployment options for Linux, including Amazon EC2, and includes new network booting and KVM virtualization capabilities.
The SUSE Appliance Toolkit 1.1 release is the first major update to Novell's on-premises Linux appliance building program following the initial release in January of this year. The new toolkit release comes as Novell continues to push its appliance-building technologies and partnerships with cloud vendors, including Amazon and VMware.
Michael Applebaum, Novell's director of Linux and appliances solution and product marketing, told InternetNews.com that the SUSE Appliance Toolkit 1.1 has improvements that will benefit both developer ISVs and enterprises. He noted that the new release provides broader cloud and virtualization support than the 1.0 release and includes more support for enterprise use cases for appliance deployment.
On the cloud support side, the toolkit now provides ISVs with the ability to deploy a Linux appliance to the Amazon EC2 cloud with Amazon Machine Image (AMI) support. Additionally, the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) standard is now supported, enabling developers to build virtual machine images that can run across any OVF-compliant virtualization hypervisor.
The toolkit now also supports the KVM virtualization hypervisor. The 1.0 release only provided support for Xen and VMware virtualization formats.
"When you put it all together, it provides the broadest support for a variety of virtualization and cloud environments," Applebaum said.
In terms of new deployment use cases, the SUSE Appliance Toolkit 1.1 provides support for network booting via PXE (define).
"Organizations can now create images that can be booted remotely over the network using PXE," Applebaum said.
PXE booting for software appliance images is of particular interest to retail enterprises, which have many point-of-sale terminals in their environments, according to Applebaum. He explained that the ability to centrally manage and secure the operating system and applications and easily update them is an appealing feature for those environments.
The SUSE Appliance Toolkit 1.1 also supports the Logical Volume Manager (LVM) deployment model. Applebaum noted that support for LVM enables enterprises to mask the use of physical storage volumes and manage them as logical storage volumes across the boundaries of physical disks.
"So for an enterprise that is already using LVM and wants to create images that can be deployed in environments that use LVMs, now they can do that," Applebaum said. "It's a more sophisticated data-center type of requirement that our customers and partners have asked us for."
Moving forward, Applebaum said that Novell's partners and customers will continue to provide feedback for new features that could end up in future releases of the SUSE Appliance Toolkit.
"There is so much left that we can deliver, whether it's enhancing VMware environments, adding new deployment capabilities or image-building capabilities," Applebaum said. "We'll continue to gather feedback from partners and customers, and so we have an exciting roadmap. The next release is probably sometime in the first six months of 2011, but no hard details on that just yet."