Kent County Council goes virtual with the help of KEMP

Friday, October 10, 2014

KEMP’s LoadMaster integrates with Cisco UCS to increase application performance and availability.

Kent County Council (KCC) is virtualizing its application infrastructure and using KEMP load balancers to ensure high availability, scalability and performance. The move from a traditional desktop and application infrastructure to a virtual Windows application infrastructure for some 6,500 users is central to the Council’s drive for greater efficiency and flexibility of data services and to meet the growing demand for more applications, while reducing costs and office space. The IT department at Kent County Council (KCC) supports staff in 200 different business units across some 300 facilities, from County Hall in Maidstone to schools, colleges, offices and NHS partnership sites around the so-called ‘garden of England’.

The IT team at KCC chose VMWare Horizon™ View and Workspace to build its virtual, unified environment for delivering over 300 different applications including Oracle E-Business Suite, MS Exchange 2010, as well as customized highway management software and case management systems. As the team architected the overall project, it was clear that load balancing was going to be an important part of the application delivery infrastructure.

Working with its IT solutions partner Phoenix Software, the Council looked at the options and selected KEMP Technologies to fill the need for application delivery in their infrastructure. “KEMP offered an for UCS is fully Cisco IVT (Interoperability Validation Testing) Certified and is the only Application Delivery Control (ADC) operating system optimized for bare metal installation within the UCS fabric without requiring a hypervisor. This allows for the highest performance possible and reduces the amount of application traffic that has to traverse the higher latency network external to the UCS fabric.

“Layer 7 workload optimisation with LoadMaster for Cisco UCS increases application performance and provides ultra-low-latency app delivery through tight integration with the underlying platform,” said Jason Dover, Director, Technical Product Marketing, KEMP Technologies. “Further, it allows Kent County Council to leverage its investment in Cisco infrastructure by converting a UCS blade into a dedicated ADC with KEMP’s LoadMaster operating system, eliminating the need for external hardware load balancers.”

LoadMaster for UCS offers Layer 4-7 server load balancing, SSL offload and acceleration, data caching and compression along with a Layer 7 intrusion prevention and security
features including pre-authentication, single sign-on and persistent logging. Glen Larkin and his team have currently rolled out the new virtual environment to 150 users and the complete migration is due to be completed by April next year. “The deployment has been going very smoothly with the support of KEMP and Phoenix Software,” said Glen Larkin. “Our new virtual, well-balanced environment will provide a flexible and scalable platform for the Council’s future needs and means that we no longer have to support thousands of desktop PCs, which allows us to use our time and resources to greater effect.”

KCC has two active/active datacentres; one in Maidstone and the other in a shared facility with neighbouring Medway Council. Each datacentre has two Cisco UCS chassis with dual high availability KEMP GEO Multi-Site load balancers. The KEMP LoadMaster Operating System Software (LMOS) LoadMaster for UCS offers Layer 4-7 server load balancing, SSL offload and acceleration, data caching and compression along with a Layer 7 intrusion prevention and security features including pre-authentication, single sign-on and persistent logging.

Glen Larkin and his team have currently rolled out the new virtual environment to 150 users and the complete migration is due to be completed by April next year. “The deployment has been going very smoothly with the support of KEMP and Phoenix Software,” said Glen Larkin. “Our new virtual, well-balanced environment will provide a flexible and scalable platform for the Council’s future needs and means that we no longer have to support thousands of desktop PCs, which allows us to use our time and resources to greater effect.”

Load Balancing VMware Horizon View & Workspace

All of KEMP’s LoadMaster load balancers, whether virtualized or not, support VMware Horizon View and VMware Horizon Workspace by increasing application performance and removing single points of failure in the deployment.

For high availability and scalability, VMware recommends that multiple Connection servers and Security servers be deployed in a load balanced cluster.

Horizon View Connection servers broker client connections, authenticate users and directs incoming requests to the correct endpoint. LoadMaster serves as a central aggregation point for traffic flow between clients and Connection servers, sending clients to the best performing and most available Connection server instance. Horizon View Security servers provide an additional layer of security for View infrastructures that are published to users on the internet. Typically deployed in the DMZ, they proxy incoming connections to View Connection Servers on the trusted network. To improve their availability, LoadMaster is used to publish a single virtual service that external clients connect to for secure access to the environment.

While there are many important components known as Virtual Appliances (VAs) included in VMware Workspace, two critical ones are the Gateway VAs and Connector VAs.

Horizon Gateway VAs serve as the single namespace for all Horizon Workspace interaction and enables a user-facing domain for access to the infrastructure. They receive, route and proxy user requests. Horizon Workspace requires one Gateway VA for every two Data VAs or 2,000 users. Horizon Connector VAs enables local user authentication, Active Directory binding and synchronization services along with ThinApp catalog loading and View pool synchronization. To provide high availability and improved scalability VMware recommends that multiple Gateway VAs and Connector VAs be placed in load balanced clusters. In fact, if you do not use a load balancer it is impossible to expand the number of Gateway VAs that are deployed.