By Debbie Urman
In recent years, multiplatform products have been growing more and more complex. Complicated configuration steps for your customers means that it takes them longer to become productive using your software. It also lengthens the sales cycle for prospective customers who are evaluating your products, and it may negatively affect their first impressions of your software. InstallAnywhere 2012 offers new support to help you manage these sorts of challenges.
In this blog article, I present an overview of the virtual appliance support that we've introduced in InstallAnywhere 2012 Enterprise Edition with Cloud Pack. This should help clear the runway so that you can begin to talk about and plan an application that can be installed on multiple platforms the traditional way, but also can be deployed into cloud and virtual environments. Happy flight planning!
Decide Your Destination
InstallAnywhere now has support for building virtual appliances. Virtual appliances are preconfigured, self-contained, ready-to-run application solutions that are made by combining an application with just enough operating system (JeOS) and any required prerequisites for the application to run on a virtual machine.
Virtualization and the cloud provide new methods for delivering complex software products. Whether you want to build a cloud-ready virtual appliance that you can deploy automatically as a hosted SaaS offering on a public cloud, or an enterprise-ready virtual appliance that your enterprise customers can host in their own virtual environments, InstallAnywhere makes the transition easy for you and your customers. You can ship your virtual appliances fully installed and configured for your customers so that they can just fasten their seat belts. Furthermore, prospective customers can give your product a test run right away, without being distracted by special configuration tasks or potential related issues.
Pack Your Bags
InstallAnywhere helps you to make the most of your efforts in developing multiplatform software by enabling you to use a single project file to configure traditional multiplatform installations, as well as virtual appliances. This makes it easy for you to accommodate both existing and emerging environments: You can continue to support traditional configurations that many of your customers still want—the physical installations that run on Windows, Linux Mac OS X, and many other platforms. At the same time, you can also start delivering your products as cloud-based solutions.
The following screen shot shows InstallAnywhere's new Build Appliances task that lets you configure settings for a virtual appliance within your traditional installation project.
Prepare for Takeoff
Offering your products as virtual appliances enables you to enter new markets that may previously have been prohibited by installation complexity. It helps you eliminate problems that arise because of complicated configuration requirements. Your customers simply download a single file and launch your product. The ability to offer virtual appliances for your products also lets you create cloud-hosted and virtual machine evaluations, demos, and virtual labs in a controlled environment.
What's on the Itinerary?
The following procedure describes the workflow for creating a virtual appliance in an InstallAnywhere installation project:
- Select a virtual machine template—a preinstalled virtual machine disk that contains the operating system and any required operating system packages. You can use one of the prebuilt templates that you have the choice of installing when you install InstallAnywhere, or you can download a template later from the Flexera Software site. As an alternative, you can create your own custom template.
- Configure the settings for your virtual appliance. This includes specifying information such as the name that you want to use for your virtual machine.
- If appropriate, specify any custom scripts that you want to be run at various stages of your appliance, such as at first boot time or login.
- If appropriate, add any prerequisite installations that your product requires.
- Build the virtual appliance.
- Deploy the virtual appliance to a public cloud such as Amazon EC2 or distribute it to your enterprise customers for easy provisioning within their virtual environments.
Learning to Fly
The InstallAnywhere team has been writing various blog articles that highlight the new virtual appliance support. We'll cover topics such as creating custom virtual machine templates, as well as configuring custom boot and login scripts.
So make sure that you stay tuned to our InstallTalk blog, and let us know related topics that you'd like to see covered.
To learn more about InstallAnywhere 2012, see the What's New in InstallAnywhere 2012 Webinar.