Following my papers on the future of software and the most recent one on the acquisition of SUN by Oracle, I continue to see signs that point in the direction of reducing the costs of application deployment. The first company that I talked to recently is Phurnace Software. Phurnace is specialized in the deployment of Java EE applications. The solution includes a discovery of the target environment, including the typical configuration settings. Then it does a validity check of all the settings, provide a "what if" sandbox to see the impact of setting changes, deploys automatically the application and finally provide a complete report on what was done. This is already very close to the complete "life cycle automation" concept that I think is the future of software applications. Then I talked to rPath: This is a very similar solution, but the end result is a run-time version of the application that can be deployed as an image on different platforms, from bare metal to virtual environments. rPath has already a number of followers in the ISV world, and is now looking at the enterprise one. Finally I also had a briefing with XebiaLabs in Holland, which appears as a direct competitor to Phurnace.
This week, IBM introduced its first two IT management appliances targeted at small and medium businesses. These first two solutions are part of a family that will eventually cover all the IT management needs of an enterprise, and cover availability and performance (IBM Tivoli Foundations Application Manager) and service desk IT services (IBM Tivoli Foundations Service Manager). The benefits expected are a rapid deployment at a lower cost due to the inclusion of automated configuration and deployment solutions. by itself, this is not really new and neither is it a complete revolution. Years ago, Oculan (now part of Raritan) and off shout of the Open NMS effort, presented a network management appliance for SMBs, with a similar strategy: sell exclusively through partners who can add their own flavor of services to the solution.