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VDI Rolling Review: Leostream Connection Broker Plays Well With VMs

Rolling Review Kickoff
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Wrap Up
The players in our review ran the gamut from smaller vendors that primarily act as connection brokers to brand-name server virtualization players.

The Leostream Connection Broker 6.0 is a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) product. We tested the software in our labs as part of our rolling review of virtual desktop management products. We're testing products for performance, ease of deployment, manageability, provisioning and authentication options, along with the diversity of each solutions hypervisor and client OS support.

The Leostream Connection Broker (LCB) is packaged into a VMware virtual appliance, so getting up and running is as simple as importing the virtual appliance into your ESX infrastructure and booting up the imported VM. Note that when we tested version 6.0, it only supported ESX. Since our review, the company has rolled out version 6.2, which includes support for XenServer and Hyper-V. Version 6.2 can be delivered as a virtual appliance for ESX, vSphere, XenServer and Hyper-V.

The broker offers a good range of choices for desktop OS support. All 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows 2000, XP and Vista are included, along with many flavors of Linux. Version 6.2 includes support for Windows 7. Remote Viewing protocol support is robust compared with some of the other players, with support for RDP 5.0/6.0, ICA HP RGS, Teradici PC-overIP, along with various flavors of VNC.

One standout feature is LCB's ability to automatically redirect you to a specific connection broker instance based on Active Directory user attributes. For example, if you work out of the Silicon Valley office but  travel to your Seattle office, the LCB can automatically shift your connection to the Silicon Valley broker to pull up your virtual desktop. This feature means IT needn't worry about replicating virtual desktop pools for road warriors at different geographical locations.

LCB also stands out for its support of multiple monitors. This may earn Leostream a second look in organizations such as financial services or construction and design shops, where the ability to stream 3D or other graphically intensive applications across two or more displays is critical. Other VDI vendors support multiple monitors, but LCB does it as well or better than the rest.

LCB is on par with the other players in the rolling review for user authentication. The LCB Web portal supports single sign-on to virtual desktops, and authenticates against Active Directory, Novell eDirectory infrastructure, or any other OpenLDAP-compliant directory. Local user accounts contained within the LCB itself can also be used for ad hoc user access.

We found the range of desktop pool configuration options puts Leostream in the middle of the pack. If you're using VMware's VirtualCenter or vSphere, you can automatically provision additional desktops based on user demand, as well as set policies on power state, intrusion detection policy, and automatic logout policy, among other things.

While all these features worked well with VMware, LCB 6.0 lacks the ability to automatically provision additional desktops if you're a Xen or Hyper-V shop, though you can control the power state of virtual desktops running on Xen or Hyper-V.

On the whole, we were impressed with the LCB's general ease of use and management. The management interface is simple and not crowded with configuration options. The Leostream Connection Broker is worth a look simply for its turn-key installation process. List pricing for the LCB is $75/concurrent user, with an additional $15/CCU for support and maintenance.