I recently had the opportunity to communicate with Telemachus Luu, Director of Product Engineering at GoGrid, the Cloud Computing Division of ServePath.
Please introduce your company and your role
GoGrid is the leading Cloud Computing, hosted, Internet service that delivers true ”Control in the Cloud”. GoGrid enables system administrators, developers, IT professionals and SaaS (Software as a Service) vendors to create, deploy, and control load balanced cloud servers and complex hosted virtual server networks with full root access and administrative server control.
I'm the Director of Product Engineering.
What are you doing that needed this type of technology?
ServePath is a dedicated hosting brand. We have thousands of dedicated systems that are in use to support customers. Updating system software that supported load balancing for all of the servers had become an operational nightmare. ServePath needed to have load balancing capabilities that were more intelligent and easier to manage.
GoGrid had additional requirements, for example the ability to leverage the open API using XML. GoGrid's AJAX-based management console needed to be able to allow customers to manage their environments fully. F5's API made it possible to deliver automated provisioning and management of our customers’ load balanced instances. Customers typically deploy 3 web servers and a load balancer. Our customers can select the type of load balancing they want to use and in less than 10 minutes that have a complete, load-balancer server infrastructure.
What products did you consider before making a selection?
We looked at Radware, Foundry and F5. All of them offered the ability to trunk to multiple servers but only F5 offered an "auto last hop capability" that prevented a single point of failure. We did a "bake off" and found that auto last hop was a very important capability and it became a requirement for us. Only F5 offered all of the necessary capabilities to manage multiple servers attached to multiple switches and make sure that regardless of the circumstances, the proper routing was occurring.
Why did you select F5?
Unlike software load balancers that can overwhelm a server’s CPU, ServePath’s solution is built with an ASIC based hardware architecture that processes and forwards Layer 2 through Layer 4 traffic at wire speed (zero latency on any type of circuit or interface) to provide higher throughput for increased traffic performance. Unlike pure hardware load balancers, our solution runs unique software to handle the complexities of Layer 7 traffic such as Rate-shaping, SSL acceleration, and compression. The F5 load balancers support 802.1q trunking to integrate seamlessly into our network topology to provide inter-VLAN server load balancing.
What tangible benefits can you name that have come through the use of this product?
The implementation of F5 allowed ServePath to offer high availability environments to more customers and they now represent a significant portion of our revenues within the ServePath and GoGrid brands.
What advice would you offer to others facing similar challenges?
Customers all have different environments and requirements. I would suggest that it would be wise to produce a fully documented set of requirements (both business and technical) as well as compile a testing plan that is representative of your actual environment. This enables you to make better and more useful decisions.
For example, having an API wasn't an original requirement for ServePath. This appeared as a requirement during the testing process. Had we not gone through a testing process, we wouldn't have realized how important having an API really was.