rPath, the company based in Raleigh, North Carolina, was founded by a team
of executives who came from Redhat. Like Redhat, rPath has embraced the Open
Source model in their quest to help ISVs and enterprises achieve Cloud nirvana.
I have been tracking this company for quite some time now but I never got a
chance to check them out. Today, rPath is announcing the release of the new
version of their rBuilder software. I got a chance to play around with rBuilder
5 and I am pretty impressed with its simplicity. In this post, I am going to
explore this company and then briefly discuss their new release.
Basically, rPath takes a virtual appliance approach to application
distribution. They offer two main products for appliance delivery and
management. rBuilder is their tool for packaging the application into an
appliance and they offer Lifecycle Management Platform for the maintenance of
the application and the underlying system. Their rBuilder tool comes in two
flavors, rBuilder Online and a
downloadable version that can be installed inside a firewall.
Their rBuilder tool takes a Linux distribution, strips it down to just enough
OS, installs the relevant libraries and other software needed to run the users’
application and offers the virtual appliance in one of the supported formats or
as an installable CD/DVD image. They support Ubuntu, CentOS and Novell Suse
along with rPath’s own lean Linux version. It appears Redhat is not willing to
sign a contractual agreement that would allow rPath to rebuild the Redhat binary
into a stripped down operating system. So, they are using CentOS, a clone of
RedHat Enterprise Linux. I asked Jake Sorofman, VP of Marketing for rPath, about
how they are convincing enterprise customers to use CentOS instead of RedHat
Enterprise Linux. He responded saying that the enterprises are slowly warming up
to CentOS. I am not entirely convinced about enterprises coming out in favor of
a RedHat clone rather than using RHEL or its “fork” Oracle Unbreakable Linux.
Either way, they have Ubuntu and Novell Suse under their kitty and it is good
enough to convince some of the enterprise customers. Using their rBuilder tool,
users can start with one of the stripped down Linux distributions, then add
packages on top of it and build an appliance in a snap. I used their rBuilder
online tool and it makes appliance building a child’s play. In fact, they have
simplified the user interface in their new version to make it even easier for
users. The rBuilder online tool is free of charge and they also offer a
downloadable version which is free up to 20 instances.
rBuilder takes the pain out of building and deploying the appliances but it
is not the end of the story. Such deployed appliances need regular updates and
maintenance. The applications requires updates to stay current and the
underlying system also needs regular updates including the security updates.
These tasks are not easy unless it is completely automated. This is where their
Lifecyce Management Platform comes into picture. This platform automates the
installation and management of application updates and system update patches,
making it easy to maintain these appliances.
Today, rPath is announcing the release of rBuilder 5, the latest version of
their tool used for automating the packaging and management of applications as
complete and self-contained systems that are ready to run on any traditional,
virtual or cloud-based environment. The latest version dramatically simplifies
the end-user experience, enhances the ability to integrate with an
organization’s existing tools and processes, and adds a management console for
deploying, starting and stopping systems in production. In fact, I strongly urge
you to head over to rBuilder
online and experience for yourself how easy it is to build software
appliances for many different applications.
We are seeing a surge in the number of companies jumping into this space.
After Demo ‘09, I wrote about Appzero, a tool that makes enterprise IT so simple
that even your grandma can manage it. I asked Jake how they are differentiating
themselves from AppZero. He told me that rPath manages the complete lifecycle of the system — from the app down to the bare metal. AppZero is focused on the application layer. It will be interesting to talk to the folks at AppZero and make a head to
head comparison between the two products. However, rPath has been in this space
from 2005 onwards with a strong presence in the ISV market and a huge enterprise
demand in the pipeline.
rPath has also released a video on their vision of application delivery. I am
adding the video below for our viewers.