Most of us know or have heard about Virtual Appliances.  Mostly single purpose virtual machines usually running on some variant of Linux today.  So why is this beneficial?

-          Ease of installation – import the VM and start it up

-          Preconfigured – maybe not fully preconfigured, but much more than having a stack of OS and product CDs and bare metal to start with

-          Reduced maintenance costs – starting with a preinstalled and mostly configured solution tends to reduce the number of errors associated with the install and configuration when done from scratch

So why not a Virtual Application Delivery Appliance (VADA)?  A preinstalled and mostly configured XenApp or CAE server that already has a targeted application published in the virtual machine.  A virtual machine that I get from my ISV that I start on my XenServer server.  Web Interface and PNAgent are already setup with defaults.  I add my users to the published application and start delivering the app.  Kind of a normal virtual appliance, but on digital steroids to enhance performance.

This is already starting to happen!  Our Platform Development Group at Citrix has been increasingly having discussions with ISV alliance partners to do just what is explained above.  Some are doing it; others are looking at the feasibility of doing it with their solution.  They have an application, or multi-component software solution that they want to, or are required to deliver via Citrix Application Delivery, and they want to simplify the process for both the customer and themselves as much as possible.  Maybe the deployment of the solution is a standalone environment and not to be part of a bigger farm.  Maybe there are reasons that their solution should run on dedicated server(s) and they simply join an existing farm.  In either case, by deploying their solution as a VADA (I’ll let marketing guys change this acronym later), they can greatly reduce their installation/deployment cycle, and spend more time on training the customer on use of the solution, thus increasing customer satisfaction (VADA Bing VADA Boom!).  Post-installation maintenance should also be lower, being a large percentage of the OS and application installation has been automated by creation of the tested baseline virtual machine image which already contains the OS, XenApp and the published application, all following best practices established in the ISVs controlled lab environment.

So why not just jump on this band wagon today?  As always there’s a few “gotchas”. 

-          Licensing – while a bit easier on the Linux side, what we are discussing here is Microsoft Servers and Citrix Application Delivery products.  Usually ISVs do not have access to distribute licenses for either of these.

-          Server Virtualization Platform – So which platform does the ISV support (XenServer, VMWare, HyperV).  I think you can see some of the benefits of having a standard virtual machine image format, and why it’s good that 2 of the 3 vendors listed are working towards such a standard. 

-          Please add your “gotchas” below.

 Intent of this thread is not to indicate the right or wrong way to approach the above scenario, but to get your feedback and ideas on the concept.  I find this concept very intriguing.  So give us and the other readers of this blog your input below.  Respond with your “gotchas” or respond to others “gotchas” on how they should be resolved.  I’ll be sure to send a link to this post to our interested ISV partners, so they get the input.

I kicked it off, help me finish it! 

References:

Satori Group VADA blog post