by: VMware Director of Solutions Engineering and Design Swapnil Hendre; VMware IT Director Infrastructure—Application Operations Mukund Yadav; VMware Middleware Lead/Architect Chakravarthy Gajula; and VMware Lead DevOps Engineer Ashok Raj R D
VMware’s legacy appliance-based load balancer solution was presenting our team with a variety of challenges. Root cause analysis was taking too long. There was a noticeable lack of elasticity for cloud-native applications, as well as a lack of automation. Application teams had zero visibility into the system. And there was no unified load balancing across public and private clouds.
The answer was the VMware NSX® Advanced Load Balancer (formerly Avi Networks) which offers seamless load balancing operations for both modern and cloud-native applications. Its superior monitoring—combined with a more intuitive user interface—allows for more proactive issue identification and troubleshooting, as well as faster recovery from a failure/outage.
Once fully deployed, the solution will ultimately impact hundreds of applications running in multiple geographically dispersed data centers.
A considered migration
Load balancing affects the entire IT infrastructure, so migrating from the legacy system to the NSX Advanced Load Balancer was done in incremental steps. To that end, a thorough analysis was conducted to identify potential candidates for migration to ensure optimal flexibility. Decisions were based on business priority and criticality of applications as follows:
Critical and external facing
Customer facing applications with high visibility and impact on VMware revenues.
Critical and internal only
Applications, such as those associated with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and finance, that would require excessive manual workhours if a failure were to occur.
Non-critical and internal
Less critical applications that typically serve as prototypes, enabling flexibility in testing to discover what works and what doesn’t.
Migration—We always had to maintain our balance
One of the biggest challenges was to migrate rules, health monitors, and policies along with load balancer configurations from our legacy system. NSX Advanced Load Balancer also simplifies migration—everything was accomplished in one shot, and our team was able to easily migrate all virtual IPs (VIPs) and associated configurations using automated migration scripts followed by application testing and sign-offs.
Customized Analytics Profile feature
The Analytics Profile feature in the NSX Advanced Load Balancer identifies the health status of virtual services—based on several threshold values including latency and response time—and then generates events and alerts as required. During our migration journey, we employed a customized Analytics Profile to avoid false positives. The focus on end-user experience enables administrators to fine tune the performance of their application delivery infrastructure.
Automated virtual service deployments
Integrating VMware vRealize® Automation™ with NSX Advanced Load Balancer enabled us to manage the complete lifecycle of virtual services via automation.
Using Content Switching
The Content Switching feature in NSX Advanced Load Balancer greatly simplified the migration process and reduced administrative overhead—VIPs with complex iRules are converted into DataScripts and migrated after detailed validation.
At the end of the day, the NSX Advanced Load Balancer further enhances the flexibility and robustness required of a successful enterprise in today’s ever-changing markets. Now VMware can easily adapt to both emerging technologies and new business environments as they present themselves. Look for more updates on our journey in the future.
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