How does Leostream still exist?

Leostream is a connection broker software company. In a world where connection brokers are becoming a commodity, how is it possible that Leostream still exists?

Leostream is a connection broker software company. In a world where connection brokers are becoming a commodity, how is it possible that Leostream still exists? Are they barely hanging on, clinging to past successes? Or do they know something that everyone who's saying connection brokers are a commodity doesn't know?

I used to think Leostream could ride the wave of the big companies buying little VDI parts makers, but when Symantec acquired connection broker maker nSuite last August, I thought that would do it for Leostream. I mean if Symantec didn't buy them, then who was left?

I spoke to Leostream's CEO, Mike Palin, and director of technical services, Eric Hanselman, on the phone today. We discussed these very questions.

In the past I'd heard that Leostream's success was based on being completely agnostic. They could connect to different hypervisors and different application and desktop delivery systems and present them via one consolidated interface. "Fine enough," I thought, "but what about when Citrix or VMware or Microsoft can do everything themselves?"

Certainly the prospect of one vendor doing everything would mean that Leostream wouldn't be needed, but that's just not realistic in the enterprise world. Large enterprises have the multi-vendor complexities that Leostream loves, and that's not going away anytime soon. Even companies that choose to deliver all applications and desktops via Citrix might find themselves having to integrate a third-party SSL-VPN or two-factor authentication system that isn't going away.

Take a look at desktop delivery. Citrix dominates the space for TS-delivered desktops, VMware dominates the hypervisor, Microsoft is rapidly coming into both spaces, and no one knows who's going to win long term. Unfortunately companies can't wait five years before picking a technology, and something like Leostream could allow the company to pick and choose different bits from different vendors. In most cases customers will already have a large deployment of something like Citrix XenApp for Terminal Server-based remote desktops and applications. And then if the customer wants to try out VDI from VMware, Leostream can be used to tie those two environments together and provide a single intelligent interface for the user.

Perhaps the biggest surprise to me was that Leostream doesn't compete with Citrix or VMware. In fact, they're partners with both and a large chunk of their business comes from those vendors. For example, when Citrix is in there trying to sell XenDesktop, maybe it works fine in the proof of concept lab. But then once they start to roll it out, the team realizes, "uh-oh, how are we going to tie it into this? Time to bring in Leostream."

The key with Leostream is that they're not replacing anything that a customer already has in place. They're just a connection broker, not a new framework for publishing applications. Their connection broker does have policy framework so you can configure different scenarios depending on client capabilities or connection scenarios. (For example, you have a single portal for VMware View desktops and Citrix XenApp desktops, and it routes you to the proper one depending on who you are or where on the network you're connecting from.)

The competition

Who does Leostream compete against? With pricing starting at $75 per concurrent user, their biggest competition is probably against the customer itself, with people thinking, "Why do I need to spend more money on top of everything I've already spent with Microsoft, VMware, Citrix, or Sun?"

In terms of the portal, visionapp's Workspace Management comes to mind. It's something like Citrix Web Interface on steroids, and it can be a single portal that connects users to their Citrix, TS, local, and web applications.

I also wonder about products like Quest vWorkspace or Ericom Powerterm WebConnect, although both of those products are really designed to replace Citrix or View and to be your primary framework for connecting users to desktops.

What do you think? Is anyone out there using Leostream? (Their largest deployment to date is for 30k users, which is certainly impressive.) I talked to a few people at Citrix who absolutely love Leostream and said that they really saved the day on a couple of deals. I wonder if the "saving the day" really is their sweet spot. Maybe it's one of those "if you have to ask, you won't understand," but "if you need it, then you need it, period."




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