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SaaS provider adopts virtual ADC Riverbed SteelApp

SaaS provider Fusebill adopted Riverbed SteelApp when it needed a virtual ADC with flexible provisioning and an integrated Web application firewall.

Subscription management SaaS provider Fusebill adopted Riverbed SteelApp virtual application delivery controllers for right-sized provisioning and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance in its cloud. The company will also use the product to incorporate its "warm" backup data center into an active-active architecture.

When Kanata, Ontario, Canada-based Fusebill started up around four years ago, it spent most of its first 18 months in beta mode. During that time, the provider relied on Microsoft Network Load Balancing Services, said Greg Burwell, Fusebill's vice president of technology. As the company prepared to go into production with customers, Burwell needed a load balancer with more Layer 7 functionality, particularly an integrated Web application firewall (WAF).

An application delivery controller (ADC) with an integrated WAF would help Fusebill, which handles credit card data for its customers, to comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), Burwell said. Fusebill also wanted to extend the flexible provisioning that it has with its highly virtualized compute infrastructure to its Layer 4-7 services. Burwell chose Riverbed SteelApp,  a virtual ADC formerly branded as Stingray, over competing products from F5 Networks and Citrix Systems, to reach those objectives.

"We heavily utilize virtualization and being able to virtualize these appliances was a big deal," Burwell said.  "The actual user interface and management of Riverbed was also a lot more welcome by the IT team here. They preferred it over the Citrix environment. It came down to usability."

The virtual SteelApp appliance gave Fusebill the flexibility it wanted in a cloud environment. The company can provision and scale the ADC just like it would any other application running on its virtual infrastructure, adding more capacity and new functionality through license upgrades.

"We just have a little bit more control over that [virtual] device as opposed to a physical one," Burwell said. "When you're dealing with a physical device, you're bound by that manufacturer's ASICs, controllers, ports, etc. Whereas, with a virtual device, you have a little bit more control. You're able to get all the same metrics and all the same performance out of it. When you're looking to get more throughput, more resource allocation or whatever, it's just a serial number that you input into your virtual device. And if you need to assign more resources, you can do it on the fly."

The next step in Fusebill's adoption of Riverbed SteelApp will be to upgrade from local to global load balancing. The SaaS provider now maintains its two data centers in an active-warm standby configuration.  The switchover to the warm data center occurs at the Domain Name Service level. By deploying more SteelApps in the backup data center, Fusebill will reconfigure itself into an active-active configuration for increased resilience.

"No one is going to have to go to the second data center because [SteelApp] can all be installed [remotely]," Burwell said. "No one has to be there to install the virtual device. That's definitely one of the positive things about going to these virtual appliances."

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