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Application delivery controllers do double duty as core routers

Human resources application services provider Workscape uses application delivery controllers for routing of its Internet-facing applications as well as for SSL acceleration and load balancing.

Human resources application services provider Workscape uses application delivery controllers for routing of its Internet-facing applications in addition to using them for SSL acceleration and load balancing.

Michael Paré, senior network engineer for Workscape, said his company has about 30 Alteon application delivery controllers throughout four Internet-facing data centers across the globe. Paré said that using the application delivery controllers as both load balancers and routers allows him to have a much simpler network with fewer devices to manage and fewer points of failure. Each one is deployed in high-availability pairs.


Workscape's applications essentially collect data from the employees of its client companies and then deliver that data to its customers' data centers. The Alteon application delivery controllers route this information from the Internet into Workscape's data centers and then to the end client's data centers.

Paré said that Workscape's customer-facing HR applications are multi-tiered, necessitating a lot of load balancing between Web servers, application servers and databases. Since the Alteon application delivery controllers load balance not only Internet-facing traffic but all intra-server traffic, setting the Alteon devices as default core routers is a requirement within his infrastructure.

"There are a lot of applications [delivery controllers] that do load balancing, but they don't have that [routing] capability," Paré said. "We have a lot of internal load balancing between servers requiring information from other servers. In order for the Alteon devices to handle all that load balancing, they have to be the default router for those servers. All the traffic for the servers has to go back through the Alteons [via Layer 2 switches] in order for the load balancing to function."

"Plus, we have a lot of different subnets where the severs are broken off into different functionalities, and the Alteons act as the default routers for all those different subnets," he added.

Workscape's use of application delivery controllers started about 10 years ago, when the company began supporting an employee portal for General Motors.

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"That project was cited at the time as the world's largest [employee] portal," Paré said. "We needed something that could provide high reliability and scalability because of the growth factor and the need to support all their employees on a global basis."

After the project with General Motors, Workscape implemented application delivery controllers throughout the rest of its infrastructure to improve the scalability and reliability of all its HR applications.

The company has stuck with the product line through its various corporate identities. (Alteon WebSystems was bought by Nortel Networks in 2000. Nortel then sold the Alteon product line to Radware last year as Nortel tumbled into bankruptcy.)

Prior to deploying Alteon's application delivery controllers, Workscape handled routing of Internet-facing applications with firewalls.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, News Editor

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