A year after acquiring Avi Networks, VMware expands load balancing capabilities

VMware says it's seen a strong response to NSX Advanced Load Balancer from cloud-focused customers.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

VMware on Wednesday announced enhancements to NSX Advanced Load Balancer, the distributed application delivery controller that it rolled out last year after acquiring Avi Networks

The standalone load balancing product is a key pillar of VMware's Virtual Cloud Network offering, according to Tom Gillis, SVP and GM of VMware's networking and security business unit at VMware. The product, he said, helps customers' private cloud infrastructure "look, feel and behave like the public cloud." 

"That's our mission," he said, "to create a level of efficiency and automation in the data center. Having a fully-featured, software-defined scale-out load balancer is absolutely an essential part of that mission."

The new features in NSX Advanced Load Balancer version 20.1 include cloud-scale networking enhancements that simplify global load balancing updates, a new architecture for consolidated Kubernetes Ingress Services optimized for multi-cluster container deployments, and new customer case management and security services. 

Among the improvements related to cloud-scale networking, VMware is enhancing its ability to scale out horizontally with Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) enhancements.

"With global server load balancing, an important need that customers have had is the ability to reliably propagate global load balancing changes," VMware's Chandra Sekar said. With traditional environments, any mistake can bring down all sites. "Avi has fixed this problem with a very  CI/CD DevOps approach to global server load balancing configuration updates," he said. "We can throttle the update by making sure it's successful in the master site before propagating it down to followers and making sure the application is up and there's no downtime involved."

The new version of the NSX Advanced Load Balancer also offers full integration with Google Cloud Platform. 

The latest version also includes several web application security enhancements and SaaS services that allow the platform to better manage case submissions. The platform automatically supports the creation of customer support tickets and proactively gets involved in helping customers patch their servers and their security footprint. 

Since launching NSX Advanced Load Balancer, the company has seen "really significant market momentum," Gillis said. VMware estimates it's replaced more than 7,000 legacy load balancer appliances. 

"These are generally very-high performance, big heavy appliances," Gillis said. "That's more than 2.5 tons worth of hardware we're taking out of the data center."

When VMware introduced its Virtual Cloud Network offerings two years ago, it had around 6,500 customers. Now, across the Virtual Cloud Network, it has more than 15,000 customers. 

"At the highest level... we are helping customers make their private cloud as agile, as efficient, as flexible as public cloud infrastructure," Gillis said. "If they don't deliver this level of efficiency, more of their internal constituents are going to look to the public cloud," which often can't meet a company's cost or security requirements.

NSX Advanced Load Balancer version 20.1 is expected to be available in VMware's second fiscal quarter, which ends on July 31.

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