By: Frank Ohlhorst dnu
Savvy network managers are using open-source software to provision new, inexpensive virtual servers, fueling the exponential growth of server clusters, server farms and Web applications. However, just throwing additional servers into the mix is an inefficient way to add capacity. Efficiency requires that loads be properly spread across resources, and that's where load balancing solutions prove their mettle. Load balancing reduces latency, improves throughput and eliminates bottlenecks.
Coyote Point Systems takes the appliance approach to load balancing, offering four different appliances. These devices differ based on design traffic load and subfeatures, but they all share the same management console and basic feature set. I tested one of these units, Coyote Point's top-tier E650GX (V8.6) appliance, for ease of use, feature set and suitability to task.
With this product, which has an MSRP of $14,395 and includes a year of support, Coyote Point has reinvented the idea of load balancing by shifting traffic shaping from basic Layer 4 algorithms to Layer 7 application-aware calculations. When combined with VMware vSphere support, that makes the device a complete traffic-acceleration solution.
The physical installation of the E650GX, which includes 22 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, was a snap: Other than installing the unit in a rack, administrators will probably spend most of their time routing the appropriate Ethernet cables from the servers that are going to participate in load balancing.
That is simple on smaller networks: You can simply plug the connection from your firewall into the external port on the E650GX and then plug each segment of the LAN into the internal ports on the device. All ports on the E650GX are Gigabit Ethernet and support full-duplex operation. That means it's very unlikely that the device will introduce any bottlenecks into LAN or WAN connections, and none were detected during performance testing.