Novell's SUSE Appliance Program Enables Roll Your Own Linux
Today, Novell announced its SUSE Appliance Program, which encompasses Suse Studio Online, a customizable, lightweight version of Linux called SUSE Linux Enterprise JeOS (Just Enough Operating System), tie-ins with Amazon's cloud services, and full support for custom software. According to the company it is an "end-to-end appliance solution that enables ISVs to rapidly build, update, configure and go to market with fully supported software and virtual appliances." In essence, developers can quickly use Novell's tools to build software appliances and even custom operating systems, and then use Amazon's cloud services and Novell's distribution channel to reach new users in new markets, with help available.
Adobe, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Ingres and others have voiced support for the program, and Novell claims that more than 3,800 ISV applications are currently certified on the SUSE Linux Enterprise platform. Here are more of the details.
Software appliances are typically good for allowing users to quickly install a combination of operating system and application services and features as a small stack, often focused on a few, mission-critical tasks. The heart of Novell's strategy is to take advantage of Linux's modularity and customizability so that ISVs can essentially create their own Linux distros and applications, then take advantage of support for them.
As Matt Asay notes, it has historically been difficult for anyone to offer full support for customized Linux distros and software stacks on top of them. Lack of support is often cited by enterprise IT managers as a roadblock to deploying Linux and open source solutions.
If Novell really wants this program to take off, they'll offer low priced, solid support. So far, the only word on pricing for support is that it "will be priced through individual OEM contracts." You can watch a screencast on how easy it is to customize a Linux distro and applications services with Suse Studio Online here. It does indeed look like mixing and matching easily available tools allows you to build useful appliances. This looks like a good move from Novell--one to watch.