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Load Balancers

needs vs. wants

Basic Features to Look For:
  • SSL support
  • Easy configuration and management
  • Redundancy

  • Nice to Have If You Can Afford Them:

  • Layer 7 switching
  • Secure remote access
  • Caching
  • With a hardware appliance--depending on the number of servers you're load balancing--consider whether the load balancer can also take the place of an edge switch. Foundry Networks' load balancers, for instance, provide additional ports you can use for edge switching, so you don't need a separate switch. That's not the case with Coyote Point Systems' and NetScaler's load balancers, which have a limited number of ports (usually one for management, one for LAN connectivity and one for WAN connectivity), so you need a switch as well. A device that does switching can help reduce the long-term management costs of your load-balancing infrastructure.

    If you prefer a hardware load balancer but can't justify the price, consider a combination network device that does even more. A NetScaler switch provides not only load balancing but also caching and SSL VPN functionality, and the Foundry Server Iron XL includes Layer 2/3 access control, giving you basic firewall capabilities in addition to load balancing.

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