Web filtering and load balancing.
Web filtering and load balancing.
They balance a lot better than the last set that we had. The previous load balancers made some bad decisions with allocating the load, and they would basically overload one of the single nodes behind. These, from loadbalancer.org, tend to balance it on a much better basis. The two factors, or the two features, you want in a load balancer, mostly, are high-availability and balancing the load. The last ones and these ones are both high-availability, but these ones balance a lot better than the last ones did.
The most important feature is the fact it was recommended by the supplier. The previous load balancers weren't a very good match for what we were trying to do.
They work. It just keeps going. The vendor will set them up, and they've just been trouble-free. They've just worked. They just keep going. That's what the principal purpose of the load balancer is, to work around and be available when there's any outages with the cluster behind. They just keep going, which is exactly what we want them for.
They're mostly designed to balance a particular type of traffic. I wanted to load balance DNS, and they just don't do it the way that we wanted to. So they're not used as DNS load balancers, whereas the previous ones were.
In terms of balancing other traffic, that they don't already balance, that would be a useful thing. I actually logged a call with their support, because I needed to try and work out how we were going to do it. That's when they came back and told me, "No, we don't actually do that." But it's something they're planning to do in the future.
They've been rock solid. They're stable, we definitely use them within their capabilities. They are very good on that.
No issues with scalability, not at all. They are very capable. We only use a tiny fraction of what they're capable of doing.
It's absolutely outstanding. They have a web chat feature, which I've used a number of times. And they've always been very responsive and very knowledgeable. They've sorted things out on the spot.
We did have a previous solution. We switched because of the supplier's recommendation, which we don't regret. Not at all. These are much better. The other ones weren't doing the job very well.
The "original, original" setup was very complex, and in the it end didn't work. We run a Smoothwall cluster behind the load balancers, which is for web filtering. The original design that was implemented didn't work the way that it was meant to, because of interactions with the firewall. We did things differently to the way they normally do things, and that actually broke their design.
So we basically had to roll it back to a simplified setup. But that wasn't any fault of the load balancer, or any fault of the Smoothwall. It's just the way that the whole project was done. We didn't tell them exactly what we wanted, and they went on what they thought it was going to be, and that just didn't match.
So the setup is notably complex. We did need their support for the original setup as well.
In terms of saving money, they haven't really made a difference to our operating costs. It's not a cost-saving device.
I have no idea, because I don't have anything to do with pricing. It was basically, "We need these, we need these," and then that's what happened. We got them. I had nothing to do with the negotiation on the price.
Basically you've got load balancers in the front and then you've got a number of machines that sit behind it that actually do the work. The load balancers just allocate out the work. So the people that manage the system behind the load balancers, this is their preferred solution. They managed to get us them for a very good price.
We had load balancers from before, that were just kicking around, so we used the ones that we had before, and they weren't a very good match. Then the supplier said, "Use these instead," and that's what we did. They were afforded somehow, (I have no idea how that money was found, or how much they cost or anything like that). But we switched over to what they said and haven't looked back.
Plan your specifications and features carefully. It's about doing proper planning to make sure that they will actually fit your requirements.
The owner of the company writes a very extensive and detailed blog. I would suggest any other potential customers read it, that they read the owner's blog, to understand what the company is focused on and where their priorities lie. Beyond just the product marketing and materials, you can actually see where the owner of the company wants them to be going, and what they're doing. And that might help focus you on whether it's the right product for what you're trying to achieve.