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VMware load balancing aimed at NSX-T

Users reacted positively to the latest VMware load-balancing product. The NSX Advanced Load Balancer promises to improve application performance in a VMware NSX-T virtual network.

VMware has upgraded its standalone load balancer and has integrated it with the NSX-T virtual networking and security software for private data centers and public clouds.

Introduced this week, the NSX Advanced Load Balancer stems from VMware's 2019 acquisition of Avi Networks, which offered load balancing through a software-defined application delivery controller (ADC). The technology inserts network services through the Layer 4 transport layer, which passes them on to the Layer 7 application layer.

Until the Avi acquisition, NSX-T customers would have to use third-party software for advanced load-balancing services. The basic features in the Layer 2-7 software-defined networking fabric were insufficient for many users.

A feature-rich ADC is definitely something I've wanted out of NSX for a while now.
Chris CrotteauIndependent IT infrastructure consultant

"A feature-rich ADC is definitely something I've wanted out of NSX for a while now," said Chris Crotteau, an independent IT infrastructure consultant who is currently working on two projects involving VMware's virtual networking technology. Integrating a hardware-based load balancer like F5 Networks' into NSX-T in a data center "adds a lot more complexity."

VMware will continue supporting customers using the load-balancing capabilities in NSX-T. Companies that want to use the new product will have to buy a separate license.

The additional cost could be justified if NSX Advanced Load Balancer delivers features as advertised. For example, companies could save money if the software, combined with NSX-T, lets them use virtual servers in a public cloud, based on real-time demand. Otherwise, companies have to pay for unused server capacity to handle traffic spikes.

"I am paying for unused resources," said Todd Pugh, CIO at food manufacturer SugarCreek, based in Washington Court House, Ohio. SugarCreek, a VMware customer, doesn't use a public cloud today. Still, Pugh said the company is likely to start using Microsoft Azure early next year.

VMware's load balancing features

NSX Advanced Load Balancer offers a "better together" option for businesses using NSX-T, said Brad Casemore, an analyst at IDC. Benefits include two-product consolidated functionality, support for multiple public clouds, and the ability to use services based on immediate demand.

Also, the load balancer provides numerous features within NSX-T, VMware executives said. They include a "wildcard virtual IP" that lets users balance loads between virtual network components, such as servers, firewalls, and intrusion detection and prevention systems.

VMware has fixed a problem associated with making configuration changes to the Avi load balancer. Before, the product would take a misconfiguration and apply it to all application servers. That would increase the chances of an application failure.

The new product will install a configuration change only in the master server. That will let engineers test the configuration's impact before applying the change to all servers.

The new software also includes full integration with the Google Cloud Platform, which means all the load balancing and security capabilities are available, according to VMware.

The vendor has also made web application security enhancements, including automated threat feeds to web application firewalls. VMware also has added automation features to the programming of distributed firewall rules.

For Kubernetes, VMware has consolidated a set of features for the container environment. They include ingress filtering, a form of packet filtering to purge a network of malicious traffic. Another is Global Server Load Balancing, which detects when a server goes down and immediately load balances to the next available one.

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