Zeus Drives Into Virtual Traffic

Startup teams with VMware to take traffic management into the virtual world

November 8, 2006

3 Min Read
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Could traffic management be going virtual? Zeus Technology thinks so, and the startup has turned its flagship software into a virtual machine in an attempt to tap growing user demand for virtualization. (See Zeus Launches ZXTM .)

Zeus, which competes with the likes of Citrix and F5, today took the wraps off Zeus Extensible Traffic Manager Virtual Appliance (ZXTM VA), a mouthful that refers to a virtualized version of its flagship ZXTM product. Like its predecessor, the new package offers application acceleration, XML processing, SSL offload, and similar features -- but within a virtualized data center. (See Zeus Expands ZXTM Family and Zeus Scores $6M.)

ZXTM VA runs with VMwares ESX Server 3. Zeus execs say the software manages incoming network traffic across a cluster of virtual machines. The idea is that, as virtual servers are deployed and removed, incoming applications can be quickly directed to the most available resource, through a process of inspecting, routing, rewriting, and manipulating incoming requests.

"We're not accelerating ESX Server, we're using it as a vehicle to create a virtual appliance," explains Paul Di Leo, the Zeus CEO.

Zeus execs claim that ZXTM VA is the only traffic management solution of its kind. If it's not, analysts indicate it's at least one of just a tiny few."I am not aware of other traffic management vendors moving into that territory," says Michael Azoff, senior research analyst at Butler Group, adding that this could be useful within a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), where users need to keep track of complex virtualized applications. (See Users Send SOA SOS, Users Cite SOA Savings, and Wall Street Eyes SOAs.)

But Azoff warns that many users are currently bewildered by the amount of virtual propaganda coming out of vendors. "There's always hype with every new technology," he says, adding that SOAs, in particular, are being hyped to the heavens at the moment.

Over at Gartner, research vice president Joe Skorupa told Byte and Switch that this is the first virtual traffic management offering he has heard of, and could be relevant to both SMBs and enterprises. "There's bi-directional management links between VMware and ZXTM so that you can do automated provisioning of application instances," he says. "I would expect to see F5 do similar things."

The analyst also feels that virtual traffic management could prove extremely useful for firms looking to support applications running high-volume Websites.

ZXTM VA is presently available, priced at between around $7,500 and $33,000, depending on the number of traffic management features within the software. Zeus has named a couple of customers for ZXTM VA, one of which is Danish credit checking firm Debitor Registret.The new product is just the latest shape shift for a startup that started life selling Web server software before changing tack to go after the traffic management and application acceleration space.

There has already been some speculation that Zeus could be a possible acquisition target for a vendor such as HP, although Di Leo downplayed the notion of his firm as acquisition bait. "At this stage, we're just focusing on the growth side of things," he told Byte & Switch.

— James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Butler Group

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV)

  • Gartner Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • Zeus Technology

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