Finns win virtual contest

VMWare has announced the winners of its $100,000 Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge, aimed at encouraging developers to come up with useful appliances hosted by its market leading virtualisation software.

Virtual appliances are pre-built, pre-configured applications packaged with the necessary operating system as ready-to-run virtual machines. Participants in the challenge competed to create innovative appliances, using open source or freely distributable components and/or their own code.

Each was evaluated on its "usefulness" with the first prize awarded to a team from Finland (team leader Mikko Hiltunen) which came up with an appliance called HowNetWorks.

Described as an always-on, all-in-one, personal network troubleshooting console, the HowNetWorks appliance is aimed at those tired of the "laborious work" involved in traditional network debugging. It uses a completely new high level networking analyser written by the team, runs on Ubuntu Linux and is implemented as a virtual appliance complete with a full set of documentation. The appliance will even run videos to help get you started.

Second was a Canadian team with the Trellis NAS bridge, designed to make it easy to access files over a network regardless of location, O/S or file sharing technology. While the third prize went to the Sieve Firewall, a US entry that allows Windows users to deploy a Linux based transparent firewall without the need for any Linux knowledge or experience.

A total of 169 entries were received from all over the world in a challenge that VMware hoped would spark interest in the use of virtual appliances in general as well as the use of its software.

"We were very impressed with the overwhelming response and the high-quality entries for the Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge, and it has been great to evaluate the innovative work submitted. " said Dr. Mendel Rosenblum, co-founder and chief scientist at VMware, and chair of the challenge jury.

"In sponsoring the challenge, we have been pleased to see it energize virtual appliance momentum across both developer and end user communities."