Dan's Take

Robin Systems' Container-Based Virtualization Platform for Applications

Interesting and useful technology, with a continuing disagreement over definitions.

After a recent debate with Robin Systems over terminology, the company offered an opportunity to see their technology in operation. How could I refuse?

What I learned was that the company has focused itself on using containers to, in the company's words, "… offer an application-centric approach that simplifies the application lifecycle management across various environments for Big Data applications such as Hadoop and Elasticsearch, for distributed databases such as MongoDB and Cassandra, for Oracle databases, and for enterprise applications."

Their demo was slick, interesting and I could easily see how its application virtualization platform would be of great use to many enterprises hoping to use Hadoop, MongoDB, Cassandra or other database software in a virtual environment.

The company also faces a couple of challenges: namely, what to call their technology and how to get the market to pay attention.

The company faces a dilemma because it has developed a way to use operating system virtualization and partitioning in the form of containers as a way to quickly provision and deliver applications to servers, regardless of whether they're on-premises or lurking somewhere out in the cloud.

Dan's Take: What's In a Name? A Lot, Actually
In my view, Robin Systems' choice to call what it's doing "application virtualization" caused unnecessary confusion and hid what is really interesting and useful technology. Application virtualization and what Robin Systems is doing are quite different.

What the company has done is develop a way to use containers to encapsulate and deliver applications and application components in a way that offers greater-than-in-a-VM performance, great application agility and a dashboard that provide a great deal of granular information about the application's execution.

It also provides useful workload management features that make it possible for the application to be moved from one place to another, or for multiple instances of the application to be deployed on multiple systems to provide better scalability and reliability.

Using the name "application virtualization" for a processing virtualization tool isn't going to help the company gain recognition. I've noticed that the company has started talking about a "platform for application virtualization" in the hopes that phrase is going to be less confusing for potential customers. I hope it works. Robin Systems' technology is really quite interesting.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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