With this year’s personnel changes at BrianMadden.com, I’m back on the desktop virtualization beat. (I was originally hired in 2011 to be “desktop virt blogger #3,” before I got into the whole mobility thing!) To get caught up, I’ve been making rounds in the industry, and recently I had a call with Leostream CEO Karen Gondoly.
Leostream recently released version 9.0 of their remote desktop connection broker, and thanks to their long history of having a wide range of protocol and platform support, their value proposition continues to be important in today’s rush to desktops in the cloud.
Leostream and the cloud landscape
We last wrote about Leostream two years ago, when Gabe gave a thorough overview and said: “If you’re not familiar with Leostream, think of their primary product this way: It’s the connection broker to end all connection brokers.” He characterized them as a key tool for complex environments, and said that their flexibility was their biggest asset. Of course, the big difference between now and then is that the cloud is really starting to have a much bigger effect on desktop virtualization.
For Leostream, in many ways the cloud is business as usual—since they’ve always supported a lot of protocols and platforms, additional cloud options just make it the more, the merrier. Plus, they’ve had various cloud options for years; for example, they supported desktops on AWS before AWS Workspaces was a thing and they had their own DaaS offering, Leostream Cloud Desktops, since 2011. (Note that they’re not taking new customers for Leostream Cloud Desktops, as these days it makes more sense for customers just to use the Leostream connection broker with the cloud of their choice.)
In more recent years, Leostream has added integrations with AWS and Azure to do tasks like VM provisioning, sizing, and power management. (Even where they don’t have platform integration, they can support desktop in any cloud—they’re just treated like a generic desktops.) And now, Leostream is doing a lot of work around hybrid cloud. This may be trending right now, but again, it’s something that Leostream is inherently suited for.
Leostream 9.0 became generally available in June, and some of the improvements include new administrator and end user UIs; improvements to how the broker software itself is packaged (it’s easier to update the underlying OS now); and additional provisioning parameters for OpenStack, AWS, and Azure. (You can find more details and new features in the release notes.)
A key new product since we last covered Leostream is their Gateway, which came out last year and was also just updated. It acts as a proxy for user logins, so that customers can isolate desktops in a virtual private cloud. It supports RDP, Mechdyne TGX, HP RGS, and Microsoft RemoteApps; plus it has an HTML5 client for browser-based access, originally via RDP, and now with the new release, SSH and VNC.
On the roadmap, they’re planning to have images up in the AWS and Azure marketplaces; plus they’re working on more multi-cloud management features and making it easier to spin up demo environments.
One thing I noticed is that the Leostream Connection Broker 9.0 is dropping support for Citrix XenDesktop, so it cannot launch connections via HDX; and it’s dropping support for XenServer. Customers can still use Leostream with Citrix, they’ll just have to treat the desktops as generic ones and use RDP or one of the other supported protocols, or stay on 8.2 (which will be supported for a couple more years).
Why did they drop support for Citrix? As Karen explained it, there are a few reasons. Some customers are indeed moving away from Citrix because it’s complicated and expensive, and they very rarely saw customers using XenServer. Net-new customers are looking at other options, including hosting on public clouds, OpenStack, and even platforms like HP Moonshot Systems, which they’ve been noticing recently. And when it comes to graphics, RDP is fine for many tasks these days, and in other cases, customers are looking for support for specialized protocols like Mechdyne TGX and HP RGS.
In general, I’ve been fascinated by how the cloud has enabled a whole range of providers to offer all sorts of new desktop virtualization offerings.