JumpBox: The Virtual Machine Factory

When you’re into software development, a lot of work is involved in building the environment to program the app. It’s not just the hardware; you need to build every block of the software required before starting the project. One economical way to tackle this situation is by using virtual machines. JumpBox provides virtual machines of all types and configurations.

A JumpBox is a “ready-to-use” virtual machine that will run in minutes on any computing environment that supports virtualization. Follow me after the fold to learn how JumpBox could help you save a ton of money and time with their many virtual machines.

Overview

Running your open source applications as JumpBoxes gives you a great number of advantages over running traditional installs built from scratch. Primary among them is the huge amount of time you can save by not having to build from the ground up. All JumpBox downloads are compatible with all major forms of virtualization like VMware, Parallels, Microsoft, Xen Open Source, VirtualBox and Amazon EC2.

Overview

Overview

Once deployed a JumpBox delivers a fully-functional instance of an application that you can start using right away. Virtual Machines come with key components built in. For example, if you are going for LAMP based app, say Drupal, a virtual machine will have the Linux OS, Apache web server, MySQL database and PHP among other requisites preinstalled. All you have to do is run the JumpBox and work on the app you want.

The Library

JumpBox claims to have the world’s most complete selection of “ready to use” open source server software. And this statement of theirs could be very true since they have more than fifty-five different open source apps spanning all major product categories in the library.

OpenSource Library

OpenSource Library

If you’re looking for an application that’s not currently in the library, you can leave a request. Based on the popular request, new apps are added to the library from time to time.

Pricing

Pricing

Pricing

You’ll have to choose from two of the paid plans starting from $49 per month. Runtime support is the major difference between the Pro and Business plans. There are no free plans at JumpBox, but there is a free trial period of 15 days with each account. Credit card information has to be submitted while signing up, but it won’t be charged till the free trial is over. If you’re planning to avail Amazon’s cloud services, you’ll have to pay extra.

Getting Started

Dashboard

Dashboard

After a ridiculously simple sign up process, a status page with links to a detailed demo and the account page is displayed. The dashboard displays key information regarding your account including the license key. Some JumpBoxes will require a license key during initial configuration, so keep it close by.

List of Jumpboxes

List of Jumpboxes

Hit the Library link at the top to get going. In this page you will find a list of featured jumpboxes. If you don’t see something you are looking for, navigate through the extensive list of categories on the left pane to find it. For the purpose of this article, I chose to go with a JumpBox that runs WordPress.

Jumpbox Virtual Machine Infomation

Jumpbox Virtual Machine Infomation

A page detailing the capabilities of the JumpBox follows next. In the same page, you will find all the necessary technical information of the JumpBox including the size, the operating system of the virtual machine and the like. Since these are virtual machine images, the sizes run into few hundred MB and above depending on the app you have chosen.

Amazon EC2 Installation

Amazon EC2 Installation

For those planning to use Amazon Elastic Cloud, you are in luck. JumpBox offers to install the virtual machine directly on your EC2 account. You can sign up from the same page and install it too.

Running the JumpBox

Jumpbox Virtual Machine

Jumpbox Virtual Machine

To run the JumpBox on your system, you will need to install Oracle Virtualbox or VMware player. Both of them are free to download and I chose VMware player for this review.

Jumpbox Virtual Machine Loading

Jumpbox Virtual Machine Loading

Once the download is complete, head over to the folder and extract the zipped archive. After extracting, double click on the vmx file and sit back to enjoy the infrastructure that is being deployed.

Configuration Settings

Configuration Settings

Depending on the processing power of the system, the JumpBox load time will vary, but it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes in either case. Point your browser to the IP address shown on the screen to configure the JumpBox.

JumpBox Configuration

JumpBox Configuration

The details required mostly pertain to the app that you are installing and in my case, I was asked for the admin password and email information along with the time zone information.

Using WordPress from JumpBox

WordPress Details

WordPress Details

Use the WordPress admin login and blog URL links to access them. I tried the admin control panel and was pleasantly surprised to see it is no different from the window that I am currently composing this article (hosted on Media Temple) and the one running from a JumpBox on my desktop.

WordPress Control Panel

WordPress Control Panel

It was very smooth and responsive and has the same features of a latest WordPress distribution.

JumpBox Administration

Jumpbox Administration

Jumpbox Administration

Use the JumpBox Administration Portal to perform various system level tasks. The link might throw a SSL error in the web browser, but hit Proceed Anyway to access the admin panel.

System Status

System Status

From this intuitive Graphical User Interface you can change the host name, configure email relaying, enable SSH/SFTP, install an SSL certificate, turn on stats or configure automated backups. The interface and the tools available in the admin panel are identical across the entire library making it easy for users handling multiple virtual machines.

Final Thoughts

JumpBox allows you to work more efficiently and focus your energy on the activities that matter. Whether you’re downloading JumpBoxes to run locally or launching them in the cloud via Amazon EC2, they share the same two-minute deployment experience. Instead of recurring monthly payments, pay per download of JumpBoxes would be an awesome addition that would help many a people.

Share Your Thoughts!

What is your take on JumpBox? How much time and money will be saved by going with JumpBox instead of building from scratch?


Responses

Add Yours
  • This article is just plain spam, aka advertisement. It must be a paid article as there cant be an write that would do such fluff without being paid. If so, it should be mention in the article that its a paid review. Their pricing is extremely high with very little benefit. The type of OS packages they offer are free all over the internet as well. A disappointing article from app.storm for sure. Also, i though this site was about apps, not services. A you might tell, im not a huge SaaS fan.

  • Hi MACscr- This article was definitely not something we paid for or even provided an interview for – I just discovered it via new inbound links on our web analytics.
    To your statement about our “high pricing with little benefit” – that’s certainly debatable. I can understand how at first glance that might be your take. There are other free options available for getting OSS apps running quickly but we provide what is arguably the simplest user experience and we’re a vendor that stands behind our product and offers a support option for those who need it. A good deal of our value we provide is in keeping the library of apps updated and Q&A’d and providing a one-click mechanism that allows admins to move their data to the latest version of the JumpBox without the hassle of futzing with patches and sifting through long readme’s and release notes.

    Happy to answer any other questions you may have and I would invite you to try our service. You mentioned you’re a bigger proponent of apps vs. SaaS – we offer folks both options with the ability to run apps on their terms whether that be on-premise, via a VPS provider or Amazon’s EC2 cloud.

    Sean

    • While I agree that Jumpbox offers simple, turn-key solutions, the advantage stops short of service — something the company clearly cares little about (unless of course you want to pay by the hour). Honesty in this respect is another lacking point. Your different subscription levels are very misleading where service is concerned. My experience (and impression) has been very much “pay or you’re on your own”. There are thousands of VMs on Amazon and if your customers understood that *this* is all their really buying, they’d have better understanding of their options.

  • I have to agree with the first comment. I am a web developer and I recommended Jumpbox to a client some time ago. The prices are highway robbery for what they do, which amounts to mass “renting” of open source software. Any accountant will tell you that a “purchase” masquerading as a lease is not a lease. Jumpbox configures their IMEs – yes. They do this once and sell you a monthly “subscription” — subscription to what exactly? Your support is laughable. The techs make you feel like you’re annoying them! The moment you cancel your “subscription” you can no longer use the Jumpbox. This is a very hit-and-run business model that probably wont last very long.

    To be fair, the instances do work well. Its apparent some good engineering went into their design. However for $400 you can get an engineer to configure a custom IME for you on Amazon. There’s just no justification for Jumpbox’s price given the level of service (or lack thereof!)