Product Review

Progress Free Load Balancer

So in this post I wanted to do a quick overview and highlight a couple of use cases for Progress’s Free Load Balancer. I am looking to implement this in one part of my lab to help with access when outside the home.

Progress is offering their Free LoadMaster to support small companies and developers with it offering a robust and validated load balancing solution. This provides them with a reliable option to meet their current needs. As these entities experience growth in their load balancing requirements, they can seamlessly transition to a commercial version in the future. This transition is facilitated by their existing comfort and familiarity with the LoadMaster.

The availability of a proven, free load balancer from an established company empowers start-ups and QA/Dev teams to concentrate on their primary tasks without concerns about navigating the trade-offs between cost, quality, and upgradeability often associated with certain open-source and application-embedded load balancing solutions. I for one know the amount of technical debt that can rack up if you try and do everything yourself to save some money.

Progress Kemp’s Award-Winning, Free Virtual Load Balancer Includes These Features:

  • Load Balancing Layer 4 and Layer 7
  • Using a Load Balancer as a Free Reverse Proxy
  • Edge Security With SSO and Authentication
  • Web Application Firewall (WAF) And Integration Into Free Load Balancer
  • Load Balancing Across Different Data Centers and Clouds

Load Balancing Layer 4 and Layer 7

At Layer 4, the load balancer possesses visibility into network details, including application ports and protocols (TCP/UDP). It manages traffic by integrating this limited network data with a load balancing algorithm, such as round-robin, and determines the optimal destination server based on factors like least connections or server response times.

At Layer 7 (this is where the cool stuff starts to happen!), the load balancer gains application awareness, enabling it to leverage additional application-specific information for more sophisticated load balancing decisions. For instance, with protocols like HTTP, the load balancer can uniquely identify client sessions using cookies, ensuring that all client requests are directed to the same server. Server persistence through cookies may rely on the server’s cookie or active cookie injection, where the load balancer inserts its own cookie into the connection.

Free LoadMaster incorporates cookie injection as one of several methods to ensure session persistence.
Load balancers can also balance traffic based on the contents of a request. For example, any client request that includes “/images” can be directed to a server optimized for delivery of images thus reducing the load on core application servers as they may be able to serve these better due to architecture.

Layer 7 Persistence Methods

  • Server Cookie Persistence
  • Active Cookie Persistence
  • Server Cookie With Source Ip Persistence
  • Active Cookie With Source Ip Persistence
  • Hash All Cookies Persistence
  • Hash All Cookies With Source Ip Persistence
  • Source IP Address Persistence
  • Super HTTP

Using a Load Balancer as a Free Reverse Proxy

Free LoadMaster is also well-suited for deployments necessitating a reverse proxy positioned ahead of resources like web servers, Microsoft Exchange, and Lync servers. Beyond its fundamental proxying capability, LoadMaster can effectively handle traffic management, enhance performance, and introduce extra layers of security. This can also really help if you are limited with public IPs at a given site.

Use cases as a free reverse proxy include:

  • Managing Traffic
  • Reverse Proxy Security
  • Using a Reverse Proxy for Encryption Offload
  • Content caching on a Reverse Proxy
  • More than just Web traffic

More details can be found here:

Edge Security With SSO and Authentication

The Kemp Edge Security Pack (ESP) comes as a standard inclusion in Free LoadMaster, offering a consolidated solution for web application security. Similar to Microsoft’s Threat Management Gateway (TMG), which delivered protective and authentication services, Kemp’s ESP can be employed to safeguard any internet-facing application. Additionally, it supports advanced authentication methods like two-factor authentication and single sign-on. This way you may also be able to protect applications that do not support these methods but also allow users to more easily access these when not inside your network without the use of a VPN.

  • End Point Pre-Authentication
  • Persistent Logging and Reporting
  • Single Sign On across Virtual Services
  • Active Directory Authentication Integration
  • RADIUS Authentication Integration
  • Customizable Forms Based Authentication
  • Soft Lockout
  • Group Membership Validation
  • RSA SecurID Dual factor authentication

More information can be found here:

Web Application Firewall (WAF) And Integration Into Free Load Balancer

Free LoadMaster is equipped with a Web Application Firewall (WAF) engine, empowering administrators to implement personalized rules for safeguarding web assets on servers positioned behind the load balancer. Administrators have the flexibility to create custom rules or utilize any ModSecurity-compatible rule set to enforce the desired security levels. The web application firewall can be configured to log security exceptions without blocking traffic. This can really help when robust injection attacks may come along to try and ruin your day.

More information can be found here:

Load Balancing Across Different Data Centers and Clouds

The Free LoadMaster comes with the Kemp Global Server Load Balancer (GSLB) feature set, allowing the distribution of customer requests across various locations, including in-house data centers, public cloud, hosted private cloud, and managed service providers. This is by far one of my favorite features as many years ago this was a feature that was very expensive and also at the time only used by larger clients. With this feature it also allows you to more easily move applications between datacenters or clouds, it also has the added benefit of moving applications closer to users.

The features of GSLB include:

  • Directing traffic to the closest and best performing server location through intelligent DNS responses
  • Traffic failover and failback in the event of a date center or cloud provider outage
  • Support for hybrid cloud environments with intelligent application delivery
  • Use of policy to automatically manage traffic distribution in the event of a location outage

More information can be found here:

If videos are more your thing I can honestly recommend this one, I love watching Network Chuck’s videos as they are so easy to consume and love the way he embeds lightboards

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