Kemp Technologies LoadMaster 3600 review

Kemp LoadMasters are affordable application delivery controllers for SMBs. Dave Mitchell takes an exclusive look at the new 3600 server load balancing appliance and sees whether its features are as good as its price.

Price
£7,250

The majority of application delivery controllers (DLCs), or server load balancers, are priced way beyond the means of SMBs but Kemp Technologies is one of a growing number of vendors that aim to make this technology far more affordable. In this exclusive review we look at its latest LoadMaster 3600 which represents the higher end of a family of four general purpose appliances and with a price tag of 7,250, looks particularly good value.

ITPRO Value award

The 3600 provides server load balancing, Layer 4/7 content switching, SSL acceleration for up to 5,000 transactions per second (TPS) and supports 1,000 physical and 1,000 virtual servers out of the box. It supports a number of deployment methods where a single-arm mode uses one network port with all physical and virtual servers on the same network subnet.

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We opted for the two-arm mode which keeps physical and virtual servers separated on different subnets. The appliance has eight Gigabit Ethernet ports and for high availability you can use two appliances for failover purposes.

Initial installation is simple as you have three methods of access. The CLI (command line interface) can be accessed with a serial port connection, you can plug in a local monitor and keyboard or simply point a browser at the appliance's default IP address.

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The 3600 adheres to the standard concepts for server load balancing as you create farms using multiple physical servers and assign these to virtual servers. For testing we used a VMware ESX Server 4 system to present multiple real' servers running web, FTP and mail services. Creating virtual servers was simple as we provided an IP address, port number and protocol and then assigned physical servers to them using their real IP addresses.

Kemp has seven load balancing schemes with the default round robin mode intercepting incoming requests and distributing them to each server in strict rotation. Weighted round robin mode allows priorities to be assigned to each server in the farm thus ensuring the better specified servers are kept the busiest.

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