Building a Linux-Based Appliance
With only two exceptions, all of the functionality described in the article is included in the downloadable version of the software available on our web site. The two exceptions are the failover mechanism, which requires the high-availability hardware configuration provided by the appliance, and the image-based restore capability, also included with the appliance. All the other capabilities, including the wizard- based policy editor, iterative undo and so on, are available in the software download.
Appliances used to be for tasks like load sharing and caching and were really targeted at internet and dot-com companies. But now appliances are appearing all over the place, with more and more enterprise-targeted uses. For example, appliances are being promoted as e-mail servers, web servers, corporate search engines and storage devices. It's simply easier to buy a box that already does it all, rather than choosing, purchasing and installing an operating system, installing and configuring application software and so on.
We believe appliances are an expanding market, serving the needs not only of internet companies, but of enterprises large and small. Ironically, this proliferation of standalone, single function appliances has resulted in a somewhat different and unexpected challenge: the complexity of managing the boxes themselves--both the hardware (power, connectivity, space) and the software (multiple diverse management consoles required to perform administration).
Jed Stafford is a developer of appliance software and hardware products at EdgeFinity, Inc.
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