Novell will offer a package of tools enabling development of software appliances that bundle the application, application server, OS, and database into a single virtual machine image.

Geared to ISVs, although also usable by enterprise IT shops, Novell Suse Appliance Toolkit enables deployment of appliances configured across physical, virtual, and cloud environments. Appliances leverage Suse Linux Enterprise and openSuse Linux platforms. The toolkit costs $100,000 for enterprises but is free for ISVs, who would build a business model around Suse Enterprise Linux.

"A software appliance is a new way to package software, enterprise application software," said Matt Richards, director of emerging technology marketing at Novell.

"Users buy one thing, called a software appliance. It makes the buying process easier, it makes the installation process easier," Richards said. An appliance is downloaded from a website, copied to a server, and booted.

Geared to smaller businesses, appliances can be built for purposes such as an ERP or CRM systems. Richards cited an analyst projection that that software appliance market would grow to be a $1.1 billion market by 2012. It is now estimated to be in the tens of millions to hundreds of millions now, he said.

Featured in Suse Appliance Toolkit is an on-premise version of Novell''s Suse Studio, for building appliances. Other  components in the package include WebYast, for remote, Web-based configuration of Suse Linux Enterprise; Suse Lifecycle Management Server, to make it easier to distribute software patches and updates and the Kiwi command-line image creation tool behind Suse Studio.

Suse Appliance Toolkit is part of the Suse Appliance Program, enabling ISVs to build and update software appliances.