Friday, 23 August 2019 01:09

Web app delivery controller - Kemp Application Experience

As more applications become web-enabled and require effective load-balancing, load balancers are becoming more pervasive. Their requirements and the Australian and world markets have changed dramatically over the past few years.

Once focused on hardware, the industry has been taken over by hybrid hardware as well as virtual and cloud-based architectures.

A modern load balancer must be flexible and able to support multiple data and application sources along with various third-party platforms. These need to be managed from a single platform, across Australia or indeed anywhere in the world. It is essential to integrate optimisation, analysis and security for successful load balancing.

The industry today is using a more application-based approach.

For instance, the Kemp Application Fabric enables organisations to manage their web applications in one place. It offers monitoring, management services and load balancing for web applications regardless of how they are hosted.

We trialed the Kemp Application Experience to see how it reacted to a high number of applications in a multi-platform environment.

Kemp Application Experience components

The three components of the Kemp Application Experience are: Kemp LoadMaster, Kemp 360 Central and Kemp 360 Vision.

The LoadMaster is Kemp’s load balancer. Its design delivers a constant experience in a multi-platform environment. Services running on physical servers, virtual servers or cloud workloads can be deployed.

Kemp 360 Central is used to deploy, monitor and manage LoadMasters in the primary user interface. Its built-in capabilities can automate routines. It can also monitor and show utilisation reports on F5 Big-IP, NGINX, haProxy and AWS ELB. The dashboard (see below) provides a variety of valuable data, including device health, real and virtual server status and workload utilisation.

Kemp 360 Vision acts as a monitoring and alerting system that collects events as they occur and provides predictive insights, enabling IT pros to act on problems before they occur.

Workload migration

The Kemp software allows migration of virtual services on demand, which is essential when users want to balance the demand on infrastructure in use.

To test this, we picked a web application running on two different web servers and then launched a virtual service migration. The migration process occurred instantly. Then we clicked on the VS Motion Migrate icon in the image below, populated the dialog box, and clicked Move.

Excessive CPU load

Next we tested what would happen if a virtual service were to overload. We used a stress tester to put load on the domain controller CPU which provides authentication services for an Exchange 2016 virtual service.

The software generated an alert once CPU resources were reaching maximum utilization, and sent a detailed alert to Slack. This included the resource’s IP address, the CPU load, reason for the resource’s use, and text to help the IT staff resolve the application problem for instance excessive CPU load, failover or uneven load balancing.

We were also interested to see how the Kemp AX software would handle the failover of a highly available resource. The image below shows a high availability pair that has been defined among our resources. One is listed as Active and the other as Standby. We forced a reboot of the Active resource, to test a failover.

Once we rebooted the active resource, the software sent a detailed alert to Slack. The failover happened as expected, although the console had to be updated several times before it showed the failover result. In the figure below, HA1 is not active while HA2 was previously the resource on standby.

Uneven load balancing

We were curious to see what would happen if the load balancer were uneven. Initially the LoadMaster was configured to use round-robin scheduling which delivered traffic to two different servers. We changed the LoadMaster to force it to deliver traffic to one server with the other server remaining connected, but idle. We modified it to replicate a real-world type of configuration error that could potentially occur, to see how the software would react. It created a detailed alert which gave information about the load balancing issue.

Kemp Application Experience: The verdict

Kemp’s AX Fabric brings centralised management to a multi-cloud universe with disparate management tools. We evaluated virtual services across AWS, Azure and a few physical servers. It was a great way of gathering all resources together within a single pane of glass interface in Kemp 360 Central, allowing users to manage and monitor those workloads.
Like most technology, there is a learning curve with the Kemp Application Experience. The software has its complexities and the user experience is not completely intuitive. However, since load balancing web applications is complicated, complexities can be expected!

Kemp’s Application Experience Fabric is a new development in load balancing that supports OnPrem, cloud and third-party vendors with a single solution fitted with capabilities such as optimisation, analytics and security.

The AX platform is a must to consider for Australian users when an organisation is seeking to update, expand or enter the load balancing sphere.

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