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We're looking for load balancing solutions for one of our projects. The requirements are for both a global load balancer and a local load balancer (we can propose a single device for both if necessary).

Currently we have proposed using an F5/BIG IP product but the management has asked me to look for alternatives since it is a bit on the pricey side. I've looked at a few products from Cisco ACE, AX10, Kemp, Coyote Point, etc. but I'm finding it hard to find one which fulfills all our particular requirements, listed at the end of this post.

Apologies in advance for the wall of text below, but I'm hoping some of the more experienced admins here could give me an idea where to look or suggest specific models to look at (there seems to be a lot of product material to go through...) while I continue my own search.

Thanks :D

Common Reqts:

General:

  • Layer 4 and Layer 7 load balancing

Resilience:

  • support automatic failover to standby device
  • provide multiple units that work in cooperating configurations to avoid single point of failure

Service monitoring:

  • able to determine the health and availability of servers at both system and application level

Multiple load balancing algorithms:

  • provide a comprehensive choice of load balancing algorithms as well as multiple modes for different virtual server groups

Management and configuration

  • provide GUI

Manual switchover

  • able to direct the device to send all new connections to the specified server group

Security

  • supports SSL

Performance:

  • HTTP Proxy VPS: 128
  • SLB VIPS: 512
  • servers per application cluster: 32
  • SSL txns per second: 500
  • SSL concurrent connections: 20,000

Global Load Balancer reqts:

  • automatically direct users to the closest or best-performing computer suite
  • serve as DNS
  • support centralised management for applications running across multiple and physically dispersed computer sites
  • provide site availability checks
  • support definition of conditions for shifting all traffic to a specific computer suite, failing over entire site or controlling only the affected applications
  • provide traffic distribution capabilities to match the needs of the system by round robin, global availability, application availability, least connections, round trip time, dynamic ratio, etc.
  • support client continuity for stateful applications

Local Load Balancer reqts:

  • provide high availability and scalability to web applications
  • support SSL acceleration
  • support centralised management
  • control number of concurrent connections
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closed as off topic by Mark Henderson Jan 22 '12 at 6:59

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F5 is the big one, but PFSense is a really good product too. –  Carlos Jun 22 '11 at 10:12
    
Shopping Questions are Off-Topic on any of the Stack Exchange sites due to their limited life span and narrow scope. See Q and A is hard, lets go Shopping and the FAQ for more details. –  Mark Henderson Jan 22 '12 at 6:59

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Most of the stuff can be done by hand on comodity hardware using HAProxy. For SSL termination you would need stunnel. There are vendors like Loadbalancer.org or Exceliance which package that all up into appliances with enterprise support and additional goodies. But the bigest point here is that the price is MUCH lower than the big guys with at least equal performance.

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+1: just what I was going to suggest, although since Gamma requires a GUI that implies it will be reconfigured by people who don't know what they're doing, and also states that the load balancer "serve as DNS" suggests he's rather confused about what a load balancer does! –  symcbean Jun 22 '11 at 11:38
    
At least loadbalancer.org provides some kind of reporting GUI. But yeah, you are right. those appliances require you to at least have an idea about what you want to achieve. And I personally wouldn't let people reconfigure my LBs who don't know what they are doing :) On the other hand I'm sure the vendors can help. And in the end, well, there's no such thing as a free lunch. –  Holger Just Jun 22 '11 at 11:45
    
Thanks. We'll look into this. –  Gamma Giant Jun 23 '11 at 9:21

Think PFsense can help you, you can even use one of you old server.

http://www.pfsense.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=40&Itemid=43

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PFsense is actually what runs on top of the Coyote Point load balancers as well. –  Grahamux Jun 22 '11 at 11:48

How about Zeus's ZXTM? The entire content of the BBC goes through four of them, we have two - not cheap but seriously flexible/configurable plus a super fast cache too. Think it hits all/most of your requirements, take a look.

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