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New Kemp LoadMaster: Hardware-like performance in a virtual appliance

The new Kemp LoadMaster appliance delivers hardware-like performance in a virtual appliance, for load balancing large enterprise infrastructures.

Kemp Technologies Inc. recently released a virtual load balancer designed for large environments. The VLM-10G, now available, gives enterprises the ability to deploy a virtual form factor instead of requiring a hardware appliance, Kemp said. The balancer, which offers the highest throughput in the Kemp LoadMaster portfolio, can scale up to 10 Gbps and 12,000 SSL transactions per second. That's similar to the throughput offered by hardware-based load balancers and a key metric enterprises consider when sizing load balancers for an application infrastructure, according to Jason Dover, Kemp's director of technical product marketing.

"There are customers in the enterprise -- and even the service provider space -- where they want to move away from getting locked into big iron and custom, proprietary silicon from vendors," Dover said. "We want to provide solutions in virtual packages that can actually stand up against what traditionally would come from mainstream hardware."

"[Enterprises] are realizing that you can do more and more on industry-standard server hardware, and the performance [data] that maybe existed between specialized hardware appliances and virtual form factors is diminishing," said Brad Casemore, research director at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.

Some enterprises have high application performance demands because of user growth, or even because some business units within the company rely on multiple applications that need to be available at all times. "For environments where performance and reliability is top of mind, that’s really where this high-throughput virtual load balancer will come into play," said Atchison Frazer, Kemp’s CMO.

The VLM-10G includes Layer 7 application delivery features, such as content switching, application health checking, caching, compression, intrusion prevention, pre-authentication and single sign-on. The load balancer, like its predecessors, is capable of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) offloading. "With applications today, you're typically going to be using SSL or [Transport Layer Security] TLS depending on the application or infrastructure; that can actually take a toll on performance if you are relying on the application servers to handle that functionality," Kemp's Dover said. "[Enterprises] can scale further, without having to move to hardware just yet."

The latest virtual appliance can also extend load balancing and application delivery to geographically distant locations. The global server load balancing functionality can intelligently choose the most appropriate data center to handle client requests in real-time, according to Kemp. The company is also further cementing integration between its load balancers and third-party networking equipment within the environment so the load balancers have more information to make "adaptive" routing decisions, he said.

"We are expanding on that so other external metrics can be pulled into the decision-making process for how we route traffic -- like our integration with HP's [software-defined networking] SDN controller. These integrations are contributing to the overall performance the end user sees," Dover said.

Kemp LoadMaster: Designed with the cloud in mind

For midmarket companies, there has historically been a lot of value in the virtual form factor for networking appliances. Virtual application delivery controllers (ADCs) and load balancing technology has been especially appealing, IDC’s Casemore said.

While some large enterprises will always require the processing power of a hardware appliance, businesses of all sizes are moving workloads to the cloud, and need services -- like ADCs and WAN optimization tools -- that have been designed with cloud architecture in mind.

"Customers are moving to the cloud, and Kemp is trying to provide them with the ADC capabilities and the networking services they are going to need to support those services," Casemore said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, news writer, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.

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