January 29, 2007

Appliances — my conclusions! (For now, at least)

Network World today posted my column predicting a rosy future for computing appliances. A lot of the supporting research has been posted in this blog recently; here’s what was a preliminary summary and survey of appliance vendor strategies.

Subsequent to submitting the column, I developed a simpler taxonomy of computing appliance types, namely:

Type 0: Custom hardware including proprietary ASICs or FPGAs.

Type 1: Custom assembly from off-the-shelf parts. In this model, the only unusual (but still off-the-shelf) parts are usually in the area of network acceleration (or occasionally encryption). Also, the box may be balanced differently than standard systems, in terms of compute power and/or reliability.

Type 2 (Virtual): We don’t need no stinkin’ custom hardware. In this model, the only “appliancy” features are in the areas of easy deployment, custom operating systems, and/or preconfigured hardware.

Here’s what I predict for each of them.

Type 0 appliances used to be favored by a range of networking and security vendors, such as Netscreen. However, there’s a trend away from them. Netezza is the only Type 0 appliance vendor I’ve actually talked with recently.

Type 1 appliances are pretty much the norm, as per the column and summary post linked above. However, that depends in no small part on how networking-intensive the appliance’s software is. Interestingly, DATAllegro seems to be moving from Type 1 to Type 2.

Type 2 is where most appliance vendors ideally would want to be. Examples can already be found in data warehousing, antispam, and firewall. Also, a variety of platform vendors are interested in supporting virtual appliances, including VMware, Microsoft, maybe IBM, and Crossbeam. Crossbeam’s strategy may be the most interesting of all.


3 Responses to “Appliances — my conclusions! (For now, at least)”

  1. DBMS2 — DataBase Management System Services»Blog Archive » Ingres tries to become relevant again on March 8th, 2007 1:50 pm

    […] Ingres has just announced Icebreaker, a virtual appliance combining the Ingres database and elements of rPath Linux. No decision has been made to offer Icebreaker as a physical appliance; if such is offered, it will only be Type II, with no custom hardware. As the name suggests, Ingres hopes Icebreaker will help it attract interest from new-name accounts. I don’t think this will succeed much at first, because of administrability issues. But assuming those get fixed, Ingres has some interesting ideas for the future. […]

  2. Check Point Systems UTM-1 and Crossbeam Systems – resolving the confusion | The Monash Report on June 26th, 2008 11:22 am

    […] Crossbeam C-Series — and hence also the new Check Point UTM-1 – are indeed classic Type 1 appliances. The biggest difference vs. generic Dell/HP/whatever servers is the density of Ethernet ports (4-8 […]

  3. The Clustrix story | DBMS2 -- DataBase Management System Services on May 12th, 2010 4:53 am

    […] Clustrix makes Type I appliances. […]

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