Virtual appliances are bringing a sea-change in the paradigm of how software is developed, distributed, deployed, and managed. Since its inception, various definitions for virtual appliances have emerged in the market. The definition that we propose at VMware is "A Virtual Appliance is a pre-built software solution, consisting of one or more virtual machines that is managed, maintained and updated as a unit".
Most of the Virtual Appliances out there on the Virtual Appliances Marketplace are packaged into single VMs. These appliances contain applications that reside on top of a guest operating system. VMware also announce vApp at VMworld 2008. vApp is a new model for defining and managing applications. These vApps contain one or more VMs and provide enhanced user experience and guaranteed service levels at the deployment site. vApps provide a much more general notion of virtual applications that get built by ISVs, SI/VARs, in-house developers and IT Admins at Enterprises and SMB. Virtual Appliances are a kind of vApp built by ISVs.
We are committed to expanding on a VMware Ready ecosystem where appliances that have been validated, provide a better user experience on VMware Infrastructure. The virtual appliance value chain is typically composed of 5 steps: Authoring, distribution, installation/deployment, runtime platform and management. On Sept 15th 2008, we launched a solution suite and a well-defined strategy for all the above steps of the value chain. Under Authoring, we enable the VMware Ready ecosystem through our partners. While VMware provides VMware Studio , we enable our partners like rPath, JumpBox, VirtualAppliances.net, cohesiveFT, SuSE Studio to build VMware Ready appliances. The distribution channel that we provide is the world's largest repository of virtual appliances, namely the Virtual Appliances Marketplace which has over 900 listed appliances. We also provide opportunities for OEMing VMware Software and bundling opportunities. We have built in virtual appliance deployment and installation capabilities through Studio and easy deployment of OVF template through VI client. Update management functionality for virtual appliances is provided by a close VMware Infrastructure Integration. VMware is thus well-positioned to lead in all aspects of virtual appliance life-cycle.