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Simplify software distribution with Oracle VM VirtualBox

Simon Coter
Senior Manager, Oracle Linux and Virtualization Product Management

With the fast paced growth in the market and ever changing customer requirements, many enterprise developers find themselves in a rush to develop and deliver software. After distributing the applications to end users, support teams have to deal with issues that are often related to deployment environment configurations not meeting the application requirements.

The deployed application needs a specific operating system release, a set of libraries installed and available, and in some cases, proprietary third party modules/drivers. Most of the times just sharing the application binary may not be enough. The risk is that the end user or customer won't be able to run the application correctly, in their configure environment, and the application will fail.

Another important item to highlight in the application lifecycle is the need to consistently and reliably distribute patches to support new versions and updates of operating systems, libraries, and drivers.

Oracle VM VirtualBox: Simplified software distribution with appliances

These key issues can be addressed by distributing an application embedded in VirtualBox. This takes software distribution to the next level.

Oracle VM VirtualBox can act as a transparent layer that allows you to distribute a complete package that includes everything required. You do not need to distribute only the application, you can distribute a complete package that includes everything required and configured as needed to get the application running.

End users or consumers won't have to worry about requirements of that application. The required deployment environment will be part of the distributed package (the appliance) and the application will run on end user devices correctly.

Oracle VM VirtualBox is a powerful open source product with unique cross-platform virtualization software and low overhead. VirtualBox is the only virtualization solution that runs and works on MS-Windows, Linux, Oracle Solaris and MacOS transparently.

Oracle VM VirtualBox can import and export virtual machines in Open Virtualization Format (OVF), the industry-standard format. OVF is a cross-platform standard supported by many virtualization products which enables the creation of ready-made virtual machines that can then be imported into a hypervisor such as Oracle VM VirtualBox. Oracle VM VirtualBox makes OVF import and export easy to do, using the VirtualBox Manager window or the command-line interface.

Using OVF enables packaging of virtual appliances. These are disk images that contain configuration settings which can be distributed easily. This way, one can offer complete ready-to-use software packages, which include operating systems, libraries and device drivers, along with the applications. These do not need configuration or installation processes, except to import them into VirtualBox.

Further details on how to export and import VM appliances on Oracle VM VirtualBox are available in this documentation.

Oracle VM VirtualBox: Application lifecycle with appliances

Oracle VM VirtualBox appliances can also be used to manage the application lifecycle, enabling software to be released faster, safer, and with better quality. Appliances allow you to release updated operating systems, updated libraries, security fixes, and the updated application itself, in one package. 

Here’s an example of Chain Stores:

For each season, the chain store requires an updated application and, by distributing this application as an appliance on Oracle VM VirtualBox, the solution provider is confident that there won't be any differences between the application running at the store(s) and the one running in the development environment at headquarters. At the same time, the lifecycle of the application will be easily managed by distributing one single appliance file.

Secured software distribution by appliances

Over the last decade, cybersecurity has become a vital part of corporate culture. While companies pay more attention to potential attack surfaces, including desktop and laptop systems, and strengthening security measures, cybercrime has become increasingly sophisticated. There are now greater opportunities and far higher damages that cybercrime can cause.

Oracle VM VirtualBox allows you to run applications within an isolated virtual machine. In case of a cyber attack or a possible ransomware attack, the application can easily be restarted by re-importing the distributed appliance.

Solution providers can scale their business by distributing apps embedded in VirtualBox which allows them to greatly simplify support and maintenance, improve the customer experience, and add a layer of security.

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