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Jumping on the Appliance Bandwagon

Here are some appliances that are ready to run on Virtual Server.

In previous columns, I have pointed out some of the handy virtual machine appliances that are available for VMware platforms. If you’re new to appliances, basically consider a VM appliance to be a pre-configured virtual machine that comes loaded with an application. Normally, each VM appliances is designed for a single purpose, such as running a browser or security application.

Today, VMware literally has hundreds of appliances that can run on VMware Server, VMware Workstation or VMware Player. To view and download VMware VM appliances, go to the VMware Virtual Appliances page.

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While VMware certainly has a leg up with hundreds of available appliances, Microsoft is now onboard as well. You can view the available Virtual Hard Disk-based virtual machines for Virtual Server and Virtual PC at the VHD Download page. You can also read more about Microsoft VHD appliances here.

By downloading the VHD, you can run any of the following with Virtual Server or Virtual PC:

For testing and training, this could save you quite a bit of time. To use any of these virtual appliances, you just need to download and install Virtual PC or Virtual Server 2005. Since both Virtual PC and Virtual Server 2005 are free products, you can now test and evaluate these Microsoft applications and operating systems at no cost with little setup time.

Since there currently are no Microsoft applications available as VMware appliances, in the past I had to configure my own VMware virtual machines for testing Microsoft applications. If VMware is your preferred testing environment, note that you can convert VHD disks to VMware’s VMDK virtual disk files by using the VMware Converter tool, which is currently in beta.

With Microsoft hopping onto the virtual appliance bandwagon, you should expect to see many more Microsoft OS-based appliances on the horizon. For Windows application vendors that insist that their products run on a dedicated box, packaging their software as a virtual appliance can give them one additional deployment option.

For the training, support professional or network administrator, the continued growth of available virtual appliances will only help to make your testing and development system setup much easier.

Since the holidays are right around the corner, if you’re a little short on cash a virtual appliance may make for an excellent gift. Of course, if your friends and loved ones aren’t virtualization geeks like me, you’ll need to look elsewhere for that perfect holiday gift.

About the Author

Chris Wolf is a Microsoft MVP for Windows --Virtual Machine and is a MCSE, MCT, and CCNA. He's a Senior Analyst for Burton Group who specializes in the areas of virtualization solutions, high availability, storage and enterprise management. Chris is the author of Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise (Apress), Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley), and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).learningstore-20/">Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley) and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).

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