I'm interested in building the the architecture in the article referenced below.
I currently have a modestly-priced layer-4 load balancer and my application servers are the SSL endpoints. I want to put an SSL server farm in between my load balancer and my app servers. Then I will put another inexpensive load balancer between the SSL farm and my app servers, to do layer-7 routing.
My web application has a fairly high amount of consumer traffic, that 6 servers can handle at about 50% capacity. Additionally, I have infrastructure traffic that is several orders of magnitude heavier than my consumer traffic. This is data coming in from all over the world that must integrate with my web application in real time. In total I have 18 app servers to handle all the traffic, plus 6 database servers. I will be adding 6 more app servers over the next 2 weeks and another 6 the 2 weeks after that. Conservatively, I estimate I will need to scale to 120 servers by the end of the year.
My motivation right now is to separate the consumer traffic from the infrastructure traffic. The consumer traffic is higher priority than the infrastructure traffic and I cannot allow a stampede on the infrastructure side to take down my consumer-facing servers. Having a website that is always up is the top priority. However if there is a failure in one of the consumer app servers, I want to route that traffic to the servers designated for infrastructure traffic.
The complication is that all the traffic is addressed using the same hostname and is nearly 100% https. The only way in my case to distinguish infrastructure from consumer traffic is by URL (poor architecture I inherited), so I need a layer 7 load balancer to be able to route. However for that to work I need either a fancy hardware-based SSL terminator or an SSL server farm as described above. Because my user base is rapidly scaling, I worry that if I go down the hardware path it will become very expensive very fast, especially since I will need 4 of everything for high availability (2 identical setups in 2 facilities). Meanwhile, the above diagram seems very flexible and more horizontally scalable.
Has anyone built this before? Are there pre-built configurations? What considerations should I make and what software should I use (I've heard of people using apache with mod-ssl, nginx, and stunnel)? Also, when does it make sense to buy an expensive load balancer vs building an SSL server farm?