A completely different kind of deployment architecture, and one that can be operated almost equally well at a customer site, as an ASP, or as an MSP, is the information appliancea specialized device that provides one or more specific functions designed to create a better total solution for a well-defined target market. Examples of information appliances include
Several trends motivate the growth of information appliances. One of the biggest is the continued adoption of the Linux operating system, which is reliable, free from expensive licensing models, and easily customized and embedded. While there are other excellent choices for appliance operating systems, most of them come with a license fee, which directly increases total cost but provides little additional value to users.
One point in favor of proprietary operating systems is any tools they have created to support a specific market niche, making them better than similar tools available on Linux. In other words, there is no simple way to make the choice; you will have to compare a full set of issues, among them license fees, development tools and related infrastructure, and development team experience. What is undeniable is that Linux is the platform of choice for a growing number of information appliance vendors .
Another important trend is the need to simplify complex solutions. Appliance vendors usually place a premium on simplicity. Just install the appliance and set a few simple parameters. Many times you don't have or need things like keyboards, monitors , or even expansion slots. The absence of such items simultaneously drives down costs and simplifies use.
Information appliances are not appropriate for every kind of software, particularly any system that creates or manages data or that requires substantial customization or programmatic integration, or that just runs better on existing hardware. That said, the move toward Linux and other open source software will continue, as will our desire to reduce complexity for our customers. Thus, we will see the continued growth of single and multi-function information appliances.