Leostream Keeps VM Systems in Check

By Francis Chu  |  Posted 2003-07-14

Leostream Keeps VM Systems in Check

Large enterprises that plan to use virtualization software to consolidate server capital and lower operating expenses have a powerful management ally in the latest edition of Leostream Inc.s Leostream Virtual Machine Controller. eWEEK Labs tests show Leostream VMC Version 2.0, which was released this month, can provide a comprehensive, easy-to-use management solution for handling day-to-day operations and provisioning Windows-based virtual machines.

Leostream VMC 2.0
Leostreams VMC 2.0 provides an easy-to-use, far-reaching management solution for Windows-based shops with virtual machine deployments. Larger organizations, especially, will find that Leostream VMC pays for itself in the long run: Its centralized management and the security enhancements it brings to virtual machine schemes will enhance their values and could save administration time and costs. More information is available at www.leostream.com.
  • PRO: Centralized virtual machine management; simple, robust provisioning; granular access control.

  • CON: Lacks virtual machine conversion and resource management tools.

    Surgient Network Inc.s eQualibrium VMwares VMware Control Center
    Wintel shops should consider using Leostream VMC 2.0 to manage virtual machine software, such as VMware Inc.s GSX Server for Windows, when rolling out many guest operating systems running on a few larger multiprocessor server systems.

    However, although Leostream VMC helps ease the pain of managing complex VMware rollouts and management chores, its probably just a matter of time before VMware or Microsoft Corp. or both release capable management solutions for their virtual machine software.

    Although Leostream has a solid head start on competitors, some companies will opt to use the management controller provided by the virtual machine vendor, thus keeping the convenience of a single-vendor solution.

    However, for companies that have deployed a VMware system, Leostream VMC will simplify management, raise system security and lower operating costs.

    Leostream VMC 2.0 is available as a software download from Leostreams Web site and has a starting price of $2,800. In addition to the upfront cost for the Leostream VMC license, Leostream also charges a per-processor licensing fee of $300 for managed host systems.

    Weve seen a real need for products such as Leostream VMC as virtual machine systems take hold in more organizations. Virtual machines are well suited for software testing, quality control and application development environments, where the ability to create virtual machines with preconfigured applications on the fly is very important to increasing productivity while lowering (or maintaining) operating expenses.

    Virtual machines also are becoming increasingly popular for server consolidation endeavors, where clusters of virtual machines on larger servers can increase overall CPU utilization, provide a means of workload management with hardware partitioning, and adopt a simplified management model while reducing hardware, software and facilities costs. (For eWEEK Labs report on server consolidation, go to www.eWEEK.com/labslinks.)

    VMware and similar products provide an efficient path toward server consolidation goals, but the underlying management schemes provided by these virtual systems are inadequate for some larger enterprises (see Case Study).

    Managing a large number of virtual machines, in addition to the host server systems themselves, can quickly become a nightmare. For example, although VMwares management consoles can manage multiple virtual machines running on a host, sites that have deployed multiple servers to host virtual machines must use several consoles to manage the entire system.

    Leostream VMC allows IT managers to log on to a single Web interface to manage virtual machines residing on different host server systems. By installing agents in host and virtual systems, Leostream VMC can effectively manage every virtual machine on the network, across different hardware systems as well as domain boundaries.

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    In addition to providing a centralized virtual machine management framework, Leostream VMC also introduces advanced features such as impressive virtual machine inventory capabilities. Leostream VMC keeps a global catalog of virtual machine images, creation and cloning; storage area network integration for redundancy and failover; granular access control; and load balancing capabilities; as well as centralized logging and reporting.

    The catalog function worked well in tests, allowing us to see and control all the virtual machines on different host systems on the network.

    Leostream VMC 2.0 is unique in the breadth of capabilities it provides for VMware and Microsofts Virtual Server and in the range of its support. Version 2.0 supports VMwares latest virtual machine software, including VMware Workstation Version 3.2 and above, GSX Server Version 2.0 and 2.5, and ESX Server Version 1.5. VMC will also support Microsofts forthcoming Virtual Server (based on the companys acquisition of Connectix Corp.s virtual machine technology). Currently, Leostream VMC supports the preview version of Microsoft Virtual Server.

    We installed VMware GSX Server 2.5 on several Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server machines. Installation of Leostream VMC was surprisingly simple: Leostream VMC ran as a Red Hat Inc. Red Hat Linux virtual machine on the VMware host system. The Leostream VMC virtual machine taps resources from the host server and has minimum requirements of a 500MHz system powered by an Intel Corp. Pentium III or faster processor, 192MB of memory, and 8GB of disk space.

    We downloaded the zipped Leostream VMC image from Leostreams Web site, extracted the Leostream VMC virtual machine file into our GSX virtual machine directory and started the Leostream VMC virtual machine. Once Leostream VMC was up and running on the host VMware server, we could access the management interface using a standard Web browser such as Internet Explorer.

    In tests, we used Leostream VMCs Web interface to easily manage, clone and provision virtual machines on different host servers across separate domains.

    Leostream VMC provides added security in the form of granular access control capabilities for virtual machines. IT managers can create users in the Leostream VMC management console and assign privileges using policies and virtual machine tags.

    Tagging allows virtual machines to be classified by type, such as by installed applications or by the virtual machines location. The policies define which users can access a particular virtual machine and what they can do with it.

    Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at francis_chu@ ziffdavis.com.

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