Catching up with Leostream: The ultimate connection broker

Leostream continues to make the connection broker that connects anyone to anything using any protocol.

We don’t often think about Leostream, which is something that should change. They’re a quiet company…not very splashy, but very good at what they do. Brian once wrote, though I can’t find it, that Leostream is like BASF – They don’t make a lot of the products you buy…they make a lot of the products you buy better – and that holds true today.

If you’re not familiar with Leostream, think of their primary product this way: It’s connection broker to end all connection brokers. They don’t do image management, they don’t do UEM, and they don’t do software-defined anything. All they do is manage desktops and users across any platform and any protocol.

“Any protocol?” you ask? Yes, including some you’ve probably never heard of:

  • Citrix HDX and ICA
  • Colorado Code Craft
  • HP Remote Graphics Software (RGS)
  • Microsoft RDP andRemoteFX
  • Mechdyne teleGraphix (TGX)
  • NICE Desktop Cloud Visualization (DCV)
  • NoMachine and Free NX
  • OpenText Exceed onDemand
  • rdesktop
  • Red Hat SPICE
  • Teradici PCoIP
  • VNC (RealVNC, TigerVNC, TightVNC, and UltraVNC)

Many of these protocols are extremely specialized, used in the scientific, medical, high finance, or oil & gasoline industries. Others are old-fashioned, used because “that’s what we’ve always used,” or because that’s all that’s supported on a given platform. To Leostream, it doesn’t matter. In fact, they add functionality around the protocol if it comes up short in, say, the management category. There is no concept of desktop pools when you install TightVNC, but when you add Leostream, now you can build an entire virtual desktop environment around it (if you’re into that sort of thing).

Of course, if you have a platform like Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp or VMware Horizon, you can use Leostream with that, too. Actually, you can use it with both at the same time so your users have a single point of access (a feature that holds true for any combination of platforms/protocols/users).

The Leostream platform consists of a Connection Broker, Leostream Agent, and Leostream Connect:

  • The Broker: Maintains an inventory of desktops, apps, and other resources that can be assigned to users.
  • The Agent: Installed on the remote desktops (Linux or Windows) and facilitates communications with the broker as well as additional functionality (USB redirection, printing, etc…).
  • Leostream Connect: The client application that’s installed on existing desktops. It’s also available on certain thin clients. It doesn’t have any protocol support built in, but it hooks into other client software packages with native support for each protocol.

Within the Connection Broker, you configure “Centers,” which is their term for the different platforms you can connect to. The platforms they support are:

  • HPE Moonshot
  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Manager
  • VMware vSphere, ESXi, and vCenter
  • Citrix XenServer, XenApp, and XenDesktop
  • OpenStack
  • Open-source Xen
  • RDS
  • Active Directory
  • LeoStream Cloud Desktops

It’s pretty obvious what Leostream has done, given the wide range of platforms and protocols they support. They’ve created a layer above all the platforms we know and use, that even plugs into those platforms and allows you to connect and manage them all. For example, their Citrix Studio agent allows you to create and manage desktop pools from Leostream’s interface instead of popping back and forth between management consoles.

The flexibility this adds to your environment is immediately recognizable when you consider that you can now manage and broker desktop connections between fundamentally different desktop pools in the cloud and on-premises. Post-merger companies that run more than one platform/protocol can create a single point for users to connect from that seamlessly routes them to the appropriate applications. You can even pick and choose which protocol a user receives based upon location. For example, maybe HP RGS is the way to go locally, but on the WAN RemoteFX makes more sense.

Leostream has many other capabilities that are too numerous to get into detail on, but you can probably imagine what some of them are. There is a robust policy engine that allows you to control such low-level things as power cycling and which protocol to use, all the way up the stack to user experience elements like printers and USB redirection.

The future for Leostream

Back in 2009, Brian wrote an article asking “How does Leostream still exist?” where he wondered aloud if there were too many connection brokers to keep Leostream in business. This was at a time at the dawn of VDI when the term “Connection Broker” was new, and it seemed like everyone was doing what Leostream had been doing for years.

Seven years have passed, and Leostream is still going strong in large part because nobody else does exactly what they do. Not every company needs Leostream, but the ones that do surely benefit from the additional flexibility and manageability. In recent years, Leostream has even extended their product to work with OpenStack, supporting cloud-based desktops and architectures that can be leveraged by individual companies or service providers. This OpenStack support is the foundation of their DaaS platform (which has been around since 2011, long before Amazon or pre-Desktone VMware got in the game).

Additionally, Leostream doesn’t really compete with VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, or any other platform vendor (at least from a connection broker perspective). Rather, they work with them when developing their products and helping customers. The biggest challenge for them is likely to be convincing companies to spend more money on Leostream’s platform in addition to the one they already bought (Though let’s face it, if you need Leostream, you’re probably happy to spend the money).

So the future looks bright for LeoStream. Their flexibility is their biggest asset, and fragmentation is their friend. For more information or to take a deeper look at the inner workings of Leostream, check out their website. Their product documentation page has an enormous amount of information about how their product works.