Enterprise Software

The five most useful virtual appliances for business

Choosing the right virtual appliance can solve major problems. Jack Wallen suggests five of his preferred app choices in this area.

The virtual appliance is one of those tools that not a lot of businesses are taking advantage of - though they should be. Not only do virtual appliances make it easy to get a specific system up and running, they allow this to be done in a cost effective and reliable way. Simply download the virtual appliance suited for your virtualization technology, boot it up and you are ready to go. In some cases you can run the appliance continually from the "live" appliance. In other cases you can do a complete virtual installation and have a permanent virtual system. Either way, the road to success is quick and painless.

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I have found five virtual appliances perfectly suited for business. Each of them offers a powerful solution to a 'common problem'.

Five apps

1. Lampstack

Who doesn't need a LAMP server? We're talking Linux Apache MySQL PHP. Although to most the installation of a LAMP server is a no brainer (install Linux and then run a single command to install the rest), some don't want to have to bother getting the operating system installed and then deal with the possibility of dependency issues. This particular LAMPstack has SSL support, Xchache, PHPMyAdmin, Postfix MTA, Webmin, and much more. The end result is a powerful web server ready to go.

2. Piwik

Businesses need analytics. It's how we shift, grown, and initiate. If you're looking for something similar to Google Analytics, but one something in house, Piwik is what you're looking for. This virtual appliance will have you ready for real-time analytics about your website in no time. Piwik will provide insight into website visitors; search engines and keywords, languages, popular pages, and much more.

3. OrangeHRM

OrangeHRM, one of the most powerful Human Resource Management tools, is available as a virtual appliance. Install this virtual appliance (or just test it pre-install), and you can enjoy employee information management, employee absence management, recruitment management, employee performance evaluation and many other HR management tools. What more do you want for your HR needs? How about one of the finest GUIs available for this sector of business? OrangeHRM makes managing human resources a snap; and this virtual appliance makes getting OrangeHRM as simple as booting a virtual machine.

4. OpenLDAP

I have often said, getting LDAP up and running is one of the most challenging tasks in the world of Linux and open source. That is no more. With the help of OpenLDAP you can have an LDAP server (complete with TLS support and phpLDAPadmin rolled in) in no time. Take the guesswork and challenge out of getting LDAP up and running with this amazing virtual appliance.

5. SimpleInvoices

What business doesn't need an invoicing system? SimpleInvoices is a web-based invoicing system. But don't let the name fool you - SimpleInvoices has plenty of features to offer, but in the end, it creates a system for invoicing that is simple to use. With this tool you can create, edit, manage, and track invoices as well as email invoices as PDFs to clients. You'll enjoy the ability to export invoices to Word, Excel, PDF. SimpleInvoice offers multiple types of invoices, Paypal payment gateway support, and much more.

Bottom line

Virtual Appliances make the life of the IT admin incredibly easy. No longer will you spend your days getting complex systems up and running. Now these same systems are a matter of downloading, and booting. Yes, you do have to attach the virtual appliance to a virtual machine, but anyone who has used tools like VirtualBox or VMware, can do that in their sleep. Boot up one (or more) of these virtual appliances and see if it doesn't make its way into your business immediately.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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