60-Second Review: WMSoftware Relevos 2.0

WMSoftware is a software company that makes many products, several of which are specifically geared towards server-based computing environments. One of these products is called “Relevos” which controls CPU and Memory usage on a Terminal Server.

WMSoftware is a software company that makes many products, several of which are specifically geared towards server-based computing environments. One of these products is called “Relevos” which controls CPU and Memory usage on a Terminal Server. Relevos can be compared to other performance management products such as AppSense Performance Manager or Threadmaster.

Installation

The Relevos installation is very straightforward. You’re asked to answer the standard questions such as confirming the license agreement, user information, and installation location. Because Relevos licensing is based on processors, the installation also asks you how many processors are present in the server. The installation is available as an MSI file, so you can configure it as a silent install using the standard msiexec parameters.

WMSoftware also offers the Relevos Management System, an MMC- or web-based management framework that lets you install, remote, configure, and replicate settings across multiple servers. While you do have to be using AD to leverage this functionality, its installation is as easy as hitting the “next” button a few times.

The management suite consists of three components: a deployment manager and a pair of configuration consoles.

As its name implies, the Deployment Manager gives you the option to install or uninstall Relevos on a target server. You need to have the WMI provider enabled (it’s not enabled in Windows 2003 by default) and enough permissions on the target machine for the installation to be successful.

Unfortunately the installation routine does not check to see if Relevos is already installed before starting. I really like the option that reboots are disabled by default, but I miss an option to schedule the installation.

Configuration

All of Relevos’s many performance control settings can be broken down in processor or memory categories.

At the most basic level, you can set the maximum CPU usage that any process is allowed to use (throttling). However, there are advanced settings that let you specify which processes to monitor (all, only these processes, or ignore these processes), which users are a throttling rule applies to, and the default behavior of the throttling rule (responsiveness and run time above threshold).

Similar to other performance-management products, Relevos has is own technique manage overloaded processors. WMSoftware calls this Intelligent Priority Control (IPC). You can configure advanced settings that allow you to fine-tune the behavior of the IPC engine. You can also adjust what actions are taken when a process exceeds a threshold, including notification, event logging, killing a process, or recording the event for a management report.
Memory management settings are a bit more limited, with the only configurable option being memory usage. This configuration is exactly the same as with the CPU except that it applies to memory usage. This can only be set on a “per process” basis, not per user. You can also configure the memory levels to be logged for reporting purposes.

The last configuration setting is the “processes” option. Besides the standard Windows processes, it’s possible to add additional processes which will not be controlled by Relevos for CPU and memory. This setting overrides specific settings in the advanced options of the CPU or memory configuration.

With the standard tooling you configure all the settings per server. The tool does allow you to import and export these settings, but this is a manual process. Fortunately, all of these configuration settings are stored in the registry, so it’s pretty easy to script the exporting and importing of these keys.

By using the Management System tool you can configure your settings on one server and then replicate them to the other servers. This is a wonderful console with just with two critical notes: all server need to be added manually to the console and it is not possible to schedule the updates of the configuration. That being said, the Management System works fine and is definitely a value-add to the Relevos product.

Management

WMSoftware understands the necessity of monitoring and reporting, so several components are setup for these management tasks. The first component is called “users.” This is used to configure all logging aspects tied to users such as user logons, logoffs, connects and disconnects. Of course standard Microsoft tools can do this too, but it is nice that it’s available all in one tool with Relevos. You can also configure a notification to be sent if more than the configured limit of disconnected user has been reached, and you have the option off automatically logging off certain disconnected users.

In terms of reporting, Relevos has limited reporting options directly in the product. If you enable recording within the Report option you can show the values collected of the processes which use the most CPU and memory in a chart view. All log files (including the ones that are viewable within the Reports console) are simple tab-separated files, so they can be easily imported into Excel to generate graphical charts for management folks.

If you plan to use any of the notification capabilities of the product then you need to configure the settings in the “notification” area. You can configure notifications to go to the event log or a log file, or you can configure them to send a message to a computer, an email, a pager, or an SNMP trap.

User experience

If Relevos does its job as it should, then none of the users would ever know it’s working. Relevos scores high in this area. We overwhelmed our server with the n! option in calculator so the processor usage was spiked at 100%. When we started a new RDP session the reaction times were pretty good, and applications like Wordpad worked fine. Relevos’s IPC enabled normal reaction times so the user didn’t know that the CPU was very busy at that moment.

Conclusion

Relevos is a pretty good product which is getting close to other product like Appsense Performance Manager. The management tool is real value-add, but we would like to have a scheduling option. Relevos is a bit simplistic and some configuration options are inferior when compared to other products, but the main thing (IPC and CPU throttling) works fine.

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