From Load Balancers to Virtual Traffic Cops

Zeus Technology released its Zeus Extensible Traffic Manager Virtual Appliance (ZXTM VA) for VMWare, a software-based version of its traffic management system for virtual environments. It’s got admin traffic cops written all over it.

Traffic managers are sometimes called load balancers. They are used in virtual environments to do just as the names imply. The value proposition of a traffic manager is to accelerate, secure and manage the apps in the back end.

This is done by balancing out the load to different physical servers or virtual servers, prioritizing certain types of traffic, determining which server should handle a function or where data needs to be delivered.

Such devices already exist, but as separate hardware devices that connect to a virtual server. ZXTM VA is a virtual, software-based appliance that runs on VMware’s ESX Server 3 datacenter infrastructure. So it needs no separate hardware.

“Now it’s a virtual machine in its own right. You can deploy it with your virtual apps. Customers wanted flexibility at how they deploy virtual environments, and this is another delivery option. It allows them to reduce the cost of deploying a virtual architecture by making the traffic manager virtual,” said Paul DiLeo, president of Zeus.

ZXTM VA is downloadable to a VMWare server and can be configured through a browser-based interface. DiLeo said this means ZXTM VA does all of the traffic handling and no changes or tweaks need to be made to the target operating systems.

“Gartner says 40 percent of operating systems will be deployed in a virtual environment by 2008. This means a need for more flexible and easy-to-use deployment,” he said.

Steve Steinke, senior analyst for networks at The 451 Group, agreed that being software-based gives Zeus more flexibility than a hardware-based solution.

“It gives them an ability to go into the SOA and virtualized spaces, where someone with a hardware-based appliance couldn’t do the same thing, at least not as flexibly. They take that control away from you when they package traffic management into a hardware appliance,” he said.

Zeus Extensible Traffic Manager Virtual Appliance for VMWare is available today, with prices starting at $11,000 and going as high as $40,000, depending on the environment in which the system is deployed.

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