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Review: Levanta Offers Simple Yet Powerful Linux Virtualization Tool

Levanta on Tuesday released the Intrepid M 4.2 Linux management appliance, which can virtualize entire Linux configurations in minutes using a unique kernel plug-in technology, greatly simplifying the process of provisioning and managing multiple Linux systems.
During a binding process, the Intrepid M copies a configuration to a server and executes a boot. All that's required is dragging and dropping Vserver configurations into machines. Administrators get a live view of all messages that show the steps the appliance is taking while provisioning a server, including the first boot and build process.

Local disks aren't required to be present on a server, so all of the deployments end up in memory, which is ideal when firing blade servers. Instead, the Intrepid M uses NAS or OnStor storage capabilities to manage images. The appliance also can use VMware configurations and run them on any server. Obviously, when applications perform file I/O operations, provisioned servers must have disks.

The Intrepid M comes with a powerful checkpoint mechanism that maintains server states and provides restoration points to roll back to working configurations. These states are called Overlays, which are dedicated Intrepid storage areas for each provisioned machine. The appliance's Overlays store any changes made to a machine. Levanta created an open-source module called MapFS to control Overlays through a Copy-on-Write mechanism. This process is transparent to applications, so any changes made to an application on the fly are intercepted by MapFS and copied to that application's Intrepid M storage location.

The Intrepid M 4.2 arrives with a built-in NAS device with more than a Tbyte of storage capacity, but Levanta has made available options to support NetApp and OnStor storage devices. By the third quarter, the company also plans to expand Intrepid M's storage options to include EMC solutions and integrate iSCSI and Fibre Channel SAN devices for customers that need high-availability storage.

The appliance is priced at $8,995 for managing up to 10 servers or desktops. Levanta also is selling a 40-server option and license pack bundles of 15 server licenses each.

On the channel front, Levanta's two-tier partner program offers sales and technical training, dedicated channel support and demo units for pilots. Margins range between 10 percent and 35 percent.

Levanta said it plans to increase its channel sales to 80 percent of total sales from the current 50 percent because it believes that its turnkey appliance is ideal for VARs and systems integrators working on complex, Linux-based solutions.