In our recent article about downloading Microsoft Exchange 2007 VHD files, we learned how Microsoft has recently offered demo versions of their newest Enterprise applications (Exchange, Windows Server 2003 R2, and others), in the VHD format. The VHD format works in Microsoft Virtual Server and can be easily imported into VMWare. While this is a nice offering from Microsoft, this isn’t really a new concept.
The VMware Appliance Marketplace offers this same type of virtual server download, of many different types of virtual servers. VMWare calls these pre-built & downloadable virtual server files “virtual appliances”. The VMWare Appliance Marketplace has been offering this for quite a while and it has become very popular. Let’s learn how downloading VMWare Virtual Appliances can help you…
What is a VMWare Virtual Appliance?
In computing terms, a “computing appliance”, in general, is a dedicated server that only performs a single function and, typically, doesn’t have an underlying operating (or at least, not an operating system that you use for other functions). A VMWare Virtual appliance is a server that performs a single function but these appliances can be downloaded, from the Internet, and run under any of the VMWare virtualization products.
How can VMWare Virtual Appliances help you?
By downloading and using these Virtual Appliances, you gain the following benefits:
- Ability to get a new server application up and running in minutes, instead of hours.
- No more wasting time installing time dedicating a server for testing, installing an operating system, downloading a demo, and trying to get the foreign appliance configured.
- Easily try out new applications. For example, you could download and try 3 different anti-spam servers, on your own network, in under an hour. Compare this to the time it would take you to install your operating system 3 times and install 3 software demos.
- Many of these aren’t just “demo” applications – these are full production virtual servers.
Even better, you don’t have to buy any virtualization software to use these appliances on your network. All you need is the FREE VMWare Player or VMWare Virtual Server (or Workstation or ESX, if you want to spend some money).
What is available at the VMWare Marketplace?
Yes, there are a number of companies offering virtual machines for download on the Internet but the benefit to the VMWare Marketplace is that all these virtual servers are available for download – in one place. There are over 300+ Virtual Appliances available for download!
- Vyatta Open Source Router
- Squid Proxy with Content Filtering
- Open Source Ticket Request System
- Sun Solaris 10
- Layer 4 Load Balancer
- vTiger CRM
Some VMWare Virtual Appliances are “certified” appliances. These appliances are tested and certified by VMWare. If you have an appliance to contribute, you can submit your Virtual Appliance to the Marketplace as well. VMWare offers a great document on how to build a virtual appliance.
In summary, the VMWare Virtual Appliance Marketplace, is single source to find hundreds of pre-built virtual servers. You can have these production-ready servers, up and running, on your network, in minutes, not hours. For more information on this unique website, checkout the VMWare Virtual Appliance Marketplace.
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