Data Centers

Meet the Antsle: A review of the perfect out-of-the box virtual machine solution

Jack Wallen reviews the Antsle private cloud server and concludes it might be one of the best things to happen for virtual machines in a long time.

I've worked with virtual machines on many platforms from VirtualBox to VMware to KVM to qemu. For the most part, they're all pretty much the same—a nice GUI tool built around powerful command tools, designed to create and manage virtual machines on a host operating system. Of the available options, VirtualBox has been my go-to tool for VMs for some time. Currently I have over 50 virtual machines at the ready. Fortunately, I don't run more than two or three at a time, as that would take a serious cut of my workstation resource pie. The other downfall of my solution is that those virtual machines are taking up precious resources—that I don't always have to spare.

And I'm not trying to run a business. Imagine having a dedicated server platform for this task—one beefy enough to take on the task of running multiple VMs. Then, add on the need to pay someone to learn how to best use the VM technology and constantly maintain the technology.

But what if there was an alternative (one used by the likes of Facebook, Symantec, PennState, Dunbar, and parc) that could make managing your virtual machines incredibly easy? A solution that is not only self-contained, but cost-effective?

That's the Antsle. A private cloud server, designed for developers, that can serve businesses of all sizes. With this piece of hardware, you can roll out servers, containers, you name it—all from a user-friendly web-based GUI. Starting at $799 and going to $4,499 (for base models), you can purchase and have an Antsle built to meet your specific needs.

But what I've found most impressive about the Antsle is how easy it is to spin up an "antlet" (think virtual machine). In seconds, you can deploy a VM based on any one of the built-in templates (Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, CentOS, FreeBSD, Kali Linux, or Windows Server). If the list of templates doesn't suit your needs, you can upload a virtual appliance or use an ISO to create a new template, which can then be used to deploy "antlets."

I've been working with an Antsle for a week now. It took me roughly an hour to get up to speed on rolling out antlets, and a day or so to realize that this solution would usurp VirtualBox as my go-to VM solution. Considering I've been using VirtualBox for a decade, that's should serve as a testimony for the ease of use and power to be found in Antsle.

I can now deploy as many VPSs as I need. In fact, according to Antsle, 100+ VPSs can be run simultaneously. Try that with your current solution.

Not just VMs

With Antsle, you can also easily deploy containers. One of the available templates is Ubuntu-Kubernetes. This is a Ubuntu Server 16.04 template, packed with everything you need to roll out a Kubernetes cluster. Deploy a few antlets based on that container and you're ready to start working with containers, without having to go through the challenge of first installing Kubernetes. It's all there, ready to rock. In a few quick minutes, you can have your Kubernetes cluster ready to serve up and scale. That alone is worth the price of entry for the Antsle.

Easy setup

Once I unpacked my new Antsle, it took about 10 minutes until it was up and running, registered, and ready to go. With the Antsle powered on, all I had to do was point a browser (on the same LAN) to http://myantsle.local, log in with the supplied credentials, change the admin password, and start deploying antlets. The web-based GUI (Figure A), makes it a breeze to deploy a new VM.

Figure A

Figure A

The Antsle web-based GUI.

Quick specs

How the Antsle is spec'd out will depend on which version you purchase. Mine was based on an Intel 8 core @ 2.40 GHz processor, with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. For a full list of specs, check out this matrix.

On the back side of the Antsle ( Figure B), you'll find:

  • 4 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0

Figure B

Figure B

The back side of the Antsle microserver.

I only needed to use one of the ethernet ports because I could create virtual NICs for each antlet. Efficient. Another nice aspect of the Antsle is that it is fanless, so it's a perfectly silent microserver. Once up and running, you won't even notice the Antsle—outside of the single red LED power light.

A quick conclusion and a look into the future

Antsle has created something really special. Any business looking to make rolling out virtual machines and containers second nature would be wise to give this company your attention. If I were to make a guess, I'd say that Antsle could easily become the one-stop-shop for your VM and container needs.

And you can bet, I'll be writing a number of how to articles to not only highlight how easy the Antsle is to use, but to help you get up to speed on some of the trickier aspects of using this masterful device.

Also See

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Image: Antsle

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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