Load Balancing Digital Transformation – Navigating a Deep Ocean
The decision process that goes into selecting and purchasing Application Delivery Controllers (ADC) and Load Balancers (LB) has changed. Previously the metrics considered were focused on deploying in private data centers and included items such as hardware sizing, throughput capability for traffic, and availability of essential software components like Web Application Firewalls (WAF).
The ADC and LB selection process has changed over the last few years along with other IT procurement. The move to virtualization and the Cloud means that new non-technical criteria have moved to the fore. The deployment location of applications, the development tools and platform stacks they are built on, and how the applications will be maintained and supported are all now as important as the technical metrics of the solution.
Application Delivery is Changing
This change in focus when selecting a load balancing solution is a function of the wider change that has occurred with infrastructure deployment options. The days of exclusive private data centers to host and deliver applications are gone for most organizations. Even those who have the knowledge and resources to maintain such private infrastructure are now using public Cloud providers to enhance or replace data centers.
Cloud deployment for applications and the IT infrastructure required to host them is now the first option for most organizations. Existing investment, legacy applications, and sometimes data sensitivity and security issues, can mean that organizations use a Hybrid Cloud model with public Cloud and private IT infrastructure used in combination.
Platform providers have recognized this trend, and many application development toolsets are available to help organizations develop applications that can run in hybrid Cloud deployments. Microsoft has fully endorsed this model with their Azure Stack offering that gives the same development platform and features as Cloud Azure, but can be deployed in a private data center. This allows applications to be developed with the same tools as Azure Cloud, even if parts of the application or its data need to be kept on private infrastructure.
Load Balancing in a multi-vendor and cloud world
Using ADCs to load balance applications and web services is vital to ensure seamless access to the application servers in this multi-vendor and multi-Cloud service world. It is quite common for an organization’s applications to be developed using different tools, platforms, and Cloud stacks. This is particularly the case if outside development companies are contracted as each usually brings their favorite development toolset. So often organizations end up with in-house applications, Azure based applications, AWS applications, or applications on some other Cloud vendor platform. Each deployment endpoint in a scenario like this will usually have a default load balancing solution that each application will use. This means a different load balancer for Azure, AWS, on premises, and likely for any other Cloud vendor or hosting provider in use. There are many disadvantages to this approach. Firstly, there is the problem of vendor and Cloud service lock in. Secondly, these different load balancer solutions are not able to share configurations or be managed collectively.
We have solutions to these problems. To address the different load balancer solutions and vendor lock in issue, you can deploy, or ask your third-party application suppliers to use the KEMP LoadMaster solution. LoadMaster is available on Azure and AWS marketplace to implement directly and is also available as a virtual LoadMaster (VLM) for use in a virtual machine with any other Cloud or hosting provider. Using LoadMaster across the board allows for shared configurations across deployments, support for hybrid application delivery, and access to pre-configured application templates for many industry standard applications. These deliver best practice load balancing solutions out-of-the-box and are built from knowledge gained during delivery of over 42,000 LoadMaster deployments.
Manage and proactively support a mixed Load Balancer estate
We realize that there will be situations where ADC and load balancers from other vendors will be used. Either for legacy reasons or due to a third part developer mandating the use of a certain product. To this end, the KEMP 360 suite is designed to allow the management and proactive support of mixed vendor ADC deployments. It provides a single management tool that can monitor, alert on, and provide support for LoadMaster and third party load balancing solutions. Building on the real-world expertise of KEMP professional services, and the tens of thousands of professional engagements with customers deploying LoadMaster into existing infrastructure, KEMP 360 delivers multi-vendor, pre-emptive monitoring, alerting, and support advice. Constant monitoring based on best practice provides alerts about possible issues, and remedial actions before any system downtime or service degradation is noticed by users.
Flexible Licensing Options
Licensing models for applications and their supporting infrastructure are also changing. Surveys show that most organizations want to purchase IT services using subscription and SaaS models rather than the traditional perpetual license model that was the norm in the past. KEMP licensing covers all the options that an organization could want. From traditional licensing, through Service Provider based subscription models, to migration of existing licenses to Cloud deployments. Metered Licensing (MELA) can be attractive to organizations who want to deploy unlimited instances of LoadMaster load balancers with charging based on actual use. It doesn’t matter where the LoadMaster instances are placed in the Cloud or private data center, or how many instances are in use. Just the actual traffic used is metered and charged. This is especially useful for applications and web sites that have fluctuating demand over time, or who have to deal with enormous spikes in activity. This allows the number of deployed load balancers to flex up and down as required without having to worry about server licenses and avoids the cost of over-provisioning to accommodate these spikes.
Load balancing applications in the modern world with multiple Cloud vendors and globally mobile workforces is a challenge from a technical and commercial perspective. We simplify the problem with virtual LoadMaster (VLM) and KEMP 360. Organizations using these KEMP solutions are seeing enormous benefits as a result. Two recent examples are the leading online fashion retailer ASOS, and Unigo, the premier online college review service that matches students to colleges that best suit their needs.
Contact KEMP today to join the thousands of organizations who are benefiting from KEMP solutions.