When I first learned about Tempe, Arizona-based virtual appliance provider JumpBox about 11 months ago, they had somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 paying customers and offered 10 appliances. A lot has changed since then. The company now has over 1,000 paying customers and offers virtual appliances for over 33 different applications via their JumpBox Open service, which provides access to appliances for popular open source applications on a subscription basis. There have been more than 20,000 JumpBoxes deployed, according to the company.
A virtual appliance is basically a packaged version of a web app that can be downloaded and easily deployed over a local network (or on a single machine). There are generally two benefits to being able to deploy software via a JumpBox virtual appliance. 1. Users are able to use popular open source web applications — such as content management systems or bug trackers — over local networks without having to bug the IT department to get it set up, and 2. Because they are so easy to install/deploy, they’re ideal for trying out software before committing money to it.
The former use case makes the JumpBox virtual appliances ideal for software like Trac or MediaWiki, which can be useful even when used locally. The latter, though, is what prompted JumpBox to launch “Powered By JumpBox,” which the company is announcing today.
Powered By JumpBox is a service for Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that gives them the ability to create JumpBox virtual appliances of their products. The main use case for these ISVs is to provide customers with easily deployable trial versions of their software. The first client of Powered By JumpBox is Six Apart, who will release a JumpBox-powered virtual appliance of their popular MovableType Pro blogging platform. The goal for MovableType is to diminish the barriers created by an advanced install process and allow potential customers to more quickly try out the software.
In addition to being deployable on a number of virtualization platforms, JumpBox virtual appliances can also be pushed out to cloud computing environments like Amazon EC2, which means it is relatively painless for customers to go from virtual trial version of a web application to publicly deployed version.
Besides creating virtual versions of downloadable web applications, JumpBox COO Sean Tierney told me that JumpBoxes could also be used to create downloadable, locally deployable versions of cloud-based web applications. That could be attractive for SaaS providers, who could easily offer a downloadable version of their online applications for potential customers that are concerned with security and reliability (read: enterprise customers).