If you’re here, chances are you’ve heard a bit of buzz about Avi Networks. You probably know that VMware acquired Avi Networks in July 2019 and that Avi makes a software-defined (read: software-only) load balancer and WAF that you can deploy across data centers and clouds. But what you may not know is how Avi reinvented load balancing to improve performance, management, and troubleshooting and the reason that VMware entered the Application Delivery Controller (ADC) space with the Avi acquisition.
Typical load balancers are hardware or software appliances. The config for each load balancer lives on the appliance. Want to change settings or policies? You have to update each load balancer directly or from an instance manager. Need more capacity? You need to buy some more hardware or virtual appliances before configuring the load balancer. Managing load balancers is feasible when you’re dealing with a pair or two. But when you’re managing fleets of hundreds of load balancers in data centers and clouds it becomes a headache that slows down your applications and, ultimately, your business. This is why Avi Networks developed the Avi Controller.
What is the Avi Controller?
Avi’s load balancing solution is comprised of the Avi Controller and Service Engines. The Avi Controller is a centralized brain that spans data centers and clouds. The Avi Controller has full visibility across the environments and automates the deployment and management of the load balancing endpoints, which we call Service Engines. The Avi Controller automates the configuration and management of Service Engines based on your intent. Want to change policy or deploy new services like a Web Application Firewall (WAF)? You can do it in just a few clicks!
The Avi Controller isn’t subject to the capacity limits of appliances either. As your needs for load balancing and WAF scales, the Avi Controller can infinitely scale additional service engines to meet demand. Unlike appliances that take days – weeks to provision, the Avi Controller can spin up new Service Engines in seconds. Now, with the Avi Controller, managing a fleet of load balancers is a breeze.
Do Other Load Balancing Vendors Offer a Controller?
Their Website Says They Do
Yes, but it’s not a controller.
Many load balancing vendors offer an instance manager — a way to connect and manage load balancing appliances from a single portal. But you still need to deploy load balancers manually before connecting them to the “controller”, and the “controller” doesn’t automate much for you. These instance managers still require a human (you) to be the brain of the entire operation. While they call it a “controller”, it doesn’t live up to the standards or have the same functionality of other controllers like those offered by Kubernetes, NSX, or Avi.
Ah. That’s lame.
Thanks for the heads up, bro.
No prob. *fist bump*
For more information on this topic, you can view the article “Controller vs. Instance Manager – Why You Should Look Under the Hood of Your Load Balancer” from the Avi Blog.