My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together
Zeus ZXTM Virtual Appliance – Quick Look
Zeus technologies from Cambridge here in the UK are one of my favourite tech companies, they are small and agile and produce an excellent bit of traffic management software called the Zeus Extensible Traffic Manager.
It’s an IP traffic manager on serious, highly-available steroids and has a very impressive list of features, I have seem many of these deployed in customer environments for some of the largest media websites in the UK (and even the world, in some instances).
For me, the beauty of them is their simplicity, it’s “just” software; not a hardware appliance like F5/Cisco etc., or mysterious black box that hums away and costs £100000’s every time you need to replace one.
It’s hardware agnostic as it runs on Linux, Solaris or FreeBSD on physical servers or a VM, or as a pre-packaged VM appliance. This really plays well in the internal/external cloud space as you want to leverage cheap, commodity x86/x64 (and even SPARC) hardware and virtualization rather than be bound to hardware that is difficult to move and redeploy… they really “get” this kind of stuff.
There is a cool article here about using the ZXTM to talk to VMware virtual center and dynamically provision web servers as it senses demand increasing, see how powerful its scripting language & Java support is?
In this quick post I’ll show you just how easy it is to set one up, by setting one up 🙂 and a quick look around the UI.
In this instance I’ve downloaded the virtual appliance from here and am running it on VMware Workstation 6.5, it also runs happily on ESX.
It defaults to a static IP address and is administered via a web browser so I’ve got one of those here;
The obligatory EULA screen, yes of course I read every word.. honest.
Configuring the IP address, note the 802.3ad support for trunking… nice
DNS Server configuration
Date & Time
Admin password, note browser and SSH access
Licence key – we’ll skip this now and upload later.
Basic setup complete and all done in minutes, and ready to go.
Uploading the evaluation licence
All Done! now you just need to add your services like web servers, farms, caching etc. Almost anything it doesn’t have a button for out of the box can be implemented in its TrafficScript language. For example; making it talk to Twitter or text you – the KnowledgeHub has lots of example code and how-to’s and the FAQ is here.
To wet your appetite I’ve put some quick screen captures of the ZXTM web interface below.
ZXTM’s can be clustered together for high-availability (no special hardware required, just out of the box commodity servers and ethernet), and configuration is simple to backup and restore (as with traditional physical appliances) they scale up to multi-gigabit loads and are well suited to scaling vertically for large demand.
You can download evaluation versions of all of this from here, and they have just launched their own blog here – download it and have a play, it’s so simple.
One of my colleagues is probably Zeus’s biggest fan, his blog is here and I’m sure this will give him a nudge to blog some of the very cool stuff he’s been doing with the ZXTM.
[disclaimer] This post isn’t an advert it’s just me trying to share my experiences… whilst my employer are official Zeus partners, this is purely on the basis of merit rather than any entirely commercial grounds; we’ve deployed the ZXTM in some of the most popular TV/video on demand platforms in the UK and both the technology and support services behind the product are outstanding.. which is why I choose them time & time again and they are a core part of my internal cloud reference architecture. They’re also small enough that they are genuinely interested in what you want in the product and how you are using it.