Zeus reigns in the virtual desktop world

In April, the Cambridge, UK-based company moved to cash in on the anticipated boom in server-based desktop application deployments with the launch of ZXTM VDB, a software appliance that optimises and secures network traffic generated by virtual desktop servers from Microsoft, XenSource, VMware and others.

That, the company believes, will help to fuel revenue growth of 100% this fiscal year, accelerating an already impressive performance which has seen sales surge by 40% and 80% in the last two years respectively. This growth is based on the success of the 11 year-old company’s Zeus Web Server (ZWS) – claimed by some to be the world’s fastest – and, more particularly, the Zeus Extensible Traffic Manager (ZXTM) it launched in 2004.

ZXTM is a highly scalable and secure traffic management utility that is deployed between application servers and the network, either as part of turnkey hardware appliance, or as a blade or server-based application. The technology has so far proven popular with high-end users with exacting network application performance and availability needs, including BBC News, BT, HSBC and Wells Fargo, and supports more than 1 million websites at 8,000 customers.

Owen Garrett, ZXTM’s product manager, says that Zeus now plans to widen ZXTM’s customer base by offering it as the basis of a series of bundled products suited for distribution through the reseller channel. The first of these products, ZXTM VDB, casts ZXTM in the role of a ‘content broker’ that secures access to and optimises the traffic generated by centralised virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployments.

Analysts such as Gartner and IDC expect virtual server applications, including VDI deployments, to grow rapidly in the next several years as more organisations adopt virtual machine servers (VMS) to boost data centre efficiency and, in the case of VDI deployments, claw back the control and spiralling costs of sprawling desktop PC estates.

Paul Di Leo, Zeus’ CEO, argues that Zeus is ideally positioned to profit from this trend because VMS vendors like VMware and Microsoft do not address the network performance issues generated by virtual server proliferation, while performance management vendors like F-Secure, have yet to match the performance of ZXTM.

Certainly, Zeus’ decision to target the nascent VDI space seems like a wise choice. Interest in centralised PC application deployment has been growing strongly for several years as conventional thin-client systems have won more converts.

Now however, the emergence of VDI systems is set to accelerate this trend as they obviate the need for specialised terminals, requiring no changes to be made to application software. It is an idea which is being promoted by a growing number of vendors, including even Microsoft.

Critically, claims Garrett, “VDI does not force PC administrators to change the way they work. The applications are the same, and they can use the same tools to manage them.”

The recruitment of new reseller partners to bring ZXTM to market is a new departure for Zeus, which has traditionally dealt directly with most customers, and continues to expand its direct sales capability into new territories including, most recently, the US. However, it has got off to a flying start by persuading Dell to position ZXTM VDB as a key element of the new “Dell Virtualisation Eco-System”. Indeed, according to Dell’s European virtualisation and consolidation practice leader, Nigel Goodwin, ZXTM VDB will be “a fundamental component of our virtual desktop solution.”

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel is the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk and specialises in writing for start-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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