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Review: Levanta Raises Linux Virtualization To New Heights

Quoting from CRN

Levanta on Tuesday released the Intrepid M 4.2 Linux management appliance, which can virtualize entire Linux configurations in minutes through a unique kernel plug-in technology.

In a close-up look at the Intrepid M 4.2, the CRN Test Center found that the appliance uses a simple process that abstracts provisioning servers and Linux applications from server deployments.

San Mateo, Calif.-based Levanta found in market research that about 40 percent of Linux-based applications in small and midsize enterprises are deployed as line-of-business or departmental applications and middleware. These systems aren't supervised by Linux specialists and data center administrators but by more general developers, who take Linux administration as a secondary responsibility.

That led Levanta to contain the application in an appliance that requires almost no maintenance. Users don't have internal access to the core software, but the Intrepid M can be upgraded in the field via a Web connection or a CD. Installation is easy, so users only need to step through a simple set-up guide to get up and running in minutes.

Users interact with the appliance through a Java-based Web interface that divides administrative activities into three steps: Templates, Machines and Vservers. Templates are Linux-based configurations that users might want to create. Besides a Linux kernel, a configuration must include all of the application packages that need to run on a machine, including any file dependencies for these packages.

The Intrepid M comes with various Linux distributions, typical application configurations for each Linux variant and all of the major RPM distributions that arrive with the newest kernel and library deployments. Each configuration also can include any third-party middleware, individual application settings and server states. Essentially, Intrepid's build process for each template is exactly the same.

When creating templates, users can add individual packages by searching the Intrepid M's internal database or allowing the appliance to check for dependencies automatically. A built-in engine understands the Linux dependency file mechanisms and where to retrieve any missing hierarchical dependencies on the Web--a huge time saver for administrators.

Also included is a utility that takes a tarball and converts it into an RPM. For servers that require clustering, the Intrepid M doesn't directly provide any special configuration packages. But users can build separate Vservers for each clustered deployment so that servers can communicate once running.

The Machines pane helps administrators collect all available networked PCs and servers that can be used to run Linux applications. These servers aren't yet running any application or are configured to run applications. During the initial setup, users can create a catalog of these servers before moving specific deployments into the hardware.

In the Vservers area of the Intrepid M's interface, users can provision preconfigured Linux servers that aren't bound to any hardware. Vservers' configured Linux stacks are fully detached from any hardware and held in a suspended virtualized state. Users can build as many configurations as they need and keep them in a hibernated state until they are migrated into a server.

During a binding process, the Intrepid M copies a configuration to a server and executes a boot. All that's required is dragging and dropping Vserver configurations into machines. Administrators get a live view of all messages that show the steps the appliance is taking while provisioning a server, including the first boot and build process.

Local disks aren't required to be present on a server, so all of the deployments end up in memory, which is ideal when firing blade servers. Instead, the Intrepid M uses NAS or OnStor storage capabilities to manage images. The appliance also can use VMware configurations and run them on any server. Obviously, when applications perform file I/O operations, provisioned servers must have disks.

Read the rest of the article - here.

Published Tuesday, August 08, 2006 6:41 PM by David Marshall
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