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Zeus virtually ports traffic manager to Windows

Wrapped app conceals its Penguin nature via Virtual Server

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Load balancing specialist Zeus Technology has ported its ZXTM traffic manager to Windows - by the simple expedient of wrapping its Linux software up as a Microsoft Virtual Server package.

The wrapped app also includes management tools that make it look just like native Windows software, said Zeus product manager Owen Garrett. He claimed the tools, which are Microsoft Management Console snap-ins, even hide the presence of a virtual machine.

"There is a guest O/S in there, but we have concealed it from the user, so as far as they are concerned it is a Windows service," he added. "We don't expose any of the non-Windows system, so it is an application stack."

Zeus already has a VMware version of ZXTM - plus versions for FreeBSD, Linux, and Solaris, and Linux-based hardware appliances - but Garret said Virtual Server being free made it a more convenient way to package and sell the software as a Windows app.

"We believe it will be more attractive to people who've not adopted virtualisation yet, as it means they get the O/S and virtualisation stack from Microsoft and supported by Microsoft, and the application supported by us," he said, adding that he expected app-wrapping to grow in popularity.

"I think we will definitely see more of this type of thing. We anticipate virtualisation will become ubiquitous when Microsoft releases Windows Server 2008 with it built in, as when that happens every Windows server will include a virtualisation stack."

Garrett claimed that testing by Zeus showed ZXTM under Virtual Server was just as reliable as it is on an appliance, but the appliance gave better performance.

"It is less expensive than an appliance - it's the same price as our other software versions from £3,100," he said. "Users need to be mindful of Virtual Server's performance cap - it is less performance than running native on a Linux appliance, but in the majority of cases you don't need native performance."

There are plenty of load balancer appliances from the likes of Barracuda, F5, and Citrix, but Garret said the only competitor to ZXTM on Windows is Microsoft's own Network Load Balancing (NLB) service.

He added that NLB is free, but ZXTM offers more features, so Zeus will promote it as an upgrade from NLB for those who don't want to take the hardware route and buy an appliance. ®

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