Coyote Point Delivers Virtual Appliance for Application Delivery

Equalizer OnDemand is the latest in application-delivery controllers (ADC) from Coyote Point that blazes a new trail of application control, load balancing and failover options—all without proprietary hardware, thanks to its virtual nature.

Coyote Point rethinks the world of application-delivery controllers, or ADCs, with a virtual iteration of a physical appliance. Coyote Point€™s Equalizer OnDemand, released March 12, is designed to run on VMware ESX/ESXi V4.X platforms and brings with it application-control capabilities, such as load balancing, optimized application delivery and failover support.

The virtual appliance brings with it efficiencies, ease of use and management capabilities that were once only found in physical devices that could break the budget for smaller IT departments. Equalizer OnDemand starts at $5,749, including one year of support. Hardware-based appliances from competitors usually start at more than $10,000.

Coyote Point isn€™t the only player in the ADC games. Competition is abundant in the form of large vendors, including F5 networks, Barracuda and Riverbed, along with smaller players, such as Kemp and A10. However, those competitors are focusing on the physical realm, with proprietary hardware appliances that include capabilities, such as hardware-based Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) offloading and HTTP compression. Coyote Point also offers a family of hardware appliances with these features.

Testing

I tested the Equalizer OnDemand virtual appliance in a VMware ESXi test environment running on a SuperMicro SuperServer 6027R-3RF4+ (a 2U, Multi-Xeon E5-2600 series server). I also used a test environment hosted by Coyote Point to evaluate failover and Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) routing capabilities.

Installation was straightforward and followed the normal conventions of installing a virtual machine under ESXi, which can be a complex process, depending upon what you are trying to achieve. Nevertheless, Coyote Point€™s documentation does an adequate job of providing you with the basics to get the appliance working under VMware ESX/ESXi environments.

While I used ESXi for the testing, a production environment may want to consider purchasing VMware ESX, so that they have access to VMware€™s advanced management features, reporting and other elements that come with a full version of ESX. Currently, Equalizer OnDemand works only with VMware based ESX/ESXi environments.

Deploying Equalizer OnDemand is straightforward for those with some networking knowledge and a good understanding of WAN and LAN routing principles. It all starts with deploying the virtual appliance and placing it between the servers and the WAN/LAN connections. Once the virtual appliance was functioning and accessible via a Web browser, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Equalizer OnDemand mimics a physical appliance from Coyote Point, which provided a small head start, since I labs reviewed Coyote Point€™s devices in the past.

That said, there were still some significant differences from Equalizer OnDemand and older iterations of Coyote Point€™s physical devices. I found that was due to a new operating system and software package released in January by Coyote Point, called EQ/OS10, which is offered on the company€™s physical appliances as well as Equalizer OnDemand.

The changes and enhancements are so significant with EQ/OS10, that it pretty much reinvents what an ADC is all about and is much more than just another release of the company's core software. Perhaps Equalizer OnDemand deserves to be placed in a new category, say an application gateway, as opposed to an application-delivery controller.

The performance of Equalizer OnDemand is a little harder to quantify€”after all, it is a virtual appliance and that means it is heavily reliant on host hardware. That is kind of a double-edged sword€“since performance can be increased by throwing more CPU cycles and hardware at the virtual appliance.