Network operations and application teams are charged with the complex task of managing multiple applications across dynamic environments. They are also responsible for maintaining continuous application delivery, all while meeting the demand for new applications delivered at an increasingly fast pace. To address these growing business demands, organizations are adopting more agile initiatives.
Load balancers are utilized to effectively control application traffic and ensure availability and security, but managing their infrastructure is extremely complex. Recently, enterprises started moving from legacy load balancers to combination of legacy and non-traditional load balancers. That’s why organizations striving for complete digitalization are turning to automation.
Load Balancers as a Service (LbaaS) can set new standards for deploying applications services and reducing costs, especially by enabling self-servicing capabilities for L4-L7 services for application teams. LBaaS was originally developed as the networking service for load balancing in OpenStack private cloud environments. However, the LBaaS model can be extended to hardware implementations using automation.
This white paper provides an overview of the LBaaS model, including the various advantages for NetOps and application teams, and describes how AppViewX’s LBaaS capabilities enable them to more efficiently provision load balancer services.
The “load balancer” is a very common networking device that is typically used for delivering highly available resources over a network. The main role of the load balancer is to distribute client requests or network traffic across a pool of servers. Therefore, this device is crucial to ensuring application availability.
Over the past decade, load balancers were traditionally used as hardware appliances. As the number of devices continued to increase, so did the level of complexity associated with their management. With the emergence of cloud computing came a transformation from legacy hardware-only environments to a mix of hardware, software-based, open-source and cloud-native load balancers. Now organizations are looking to automate their load balancer services as businesses demand speedy deliveries.
The Load Balancer as a Service (LBaaS) method uses a simple approach to meet the agility and application traffic demands of today’s companies. By employing the “as a service” model automation solutions are used to simplify the whole process associated with delivering L4-L7 services. By utilizing an advanced load balancer automation solution like AppViewX, users can automate load balancing services and meet their complex application needs as a result.
Deploying a new application or modifying an existing one involves configuration changes to the underlying load balancer devices. This requires the initiation of change management workflows for the creation or modification of virtual servers. Even for a simple change request, like enabling or disabling a virtual server, application teams are forced to submit multiple requests to different teams. In fact, as business expectations intensify, application teams may submit hundreds of requests in brownfield and greenfield implementations every week.
Many organizations rely on a manual management approaches and when they do, network teams struggle to tackle the challenges they pose while also trying to improve delivery time and reduce operational expenses. With thousands of applications spread across hundreds of load balancer devices, employing LBaaS through an automation solution is key to overcoming network bottlenecks. LBaaS by AppViewX provides a simple approach to automating the provisioning of load balancer services. The user can utilize a simple self-servicing automation workflow that automates the whole change management process through integration with ITSM and DNS systems.
With this service model, users can automate the entire change workflow while providing
- Consistent change management controls and enforcing deployment standards to address
various application deployment scenarios.
- Standardized service offerings enabling rapid change request response.
- Automation of configuration change requests to ensure rapid and efficient delivery and improve
quality using error-checking.
- An optimized load balancer deployment process that bridges the gap between different teams.
Automation Workflow for Provisioning Load Balancer
The AppViewX platform provides a comprehensive management and automation solution for multi-vendor hardware load balancers, software load balancers and cloud-native suites. Multiple stakeholders must collaborate effectively and rapidly to provision an application, which can be facilitated through self-servicing automation workflows and role-based access control (RBAC). It supports A10 Networks, Akamai, Amazon Web Services (ELB), Avi Networks, Brocade,Cisco, Citrix, F5 Networks, HAProxy, NGINX and Radware.
Let’s examine a real-world scenario where a user creates a virtual server in F5 BIG-IP LTM. The automation workflow creates a virtual server and associates it with the appropriate profiles, monitors, pools and pool members in LTM, all using integration with ITSM and DDI systems. This self-service workflow filters F5 devices based on the user’s access permissions, defined using RBAC. The platform then integrates the available address pools to create DNS binding for the new virtual server along with DDI systems (like Infoblox), which allows users to reserve a free IP address. The workflow also includes an option to create or bind existing profiles and monitors to the virtual server and allows users to create change request tickets in ITSM systems (like ServiceNow) for approvals and tracking. The service request change ID is associated with the work order and is updated based on the implementation status.
The work order then pre-validates load balancer device performance metrics (CPU and memory utilization) and confirms that the new virtual server and its associated objects are not present. Upon successful pre-validation, the configuration changes are approved through a two-step process: first by ServiceNow, then by AppViewX. After approval is received, the configuration changes are implemented on the load balancer. A post-validation script ensures the virtual server and the associated objects are created successfully.
Troubleshoot Faster with Application-Centric Visibility
Maintaining constant and full visibility into application status directly affects the success of load balancer management. This level of visibility is most crucial during application outages, when troubleshooting is underway. Without a detailed look at the application, the entire NetOps team is forced to scroll through hundreds – or even thousands – of lines of configurations to identify what went wrong. No business can afford this kind of costly downtime.
The AppViewX platform offers NetOps and application teams with much more than just automation to prevent those costly outages. When users are working on enterprise scale deployments that include a mixture of load balancer vendors and other network devices, the automation workflow can help control the process by offering greater insight into the inner workings of application delivery infrastructure.
Using AppViewX, NetOps teams maintain complete visibility into critical applications and their respective traffic flow to better understand how minor outages affect them. This approach helps to quickly identify which service is down and uncovers blind spots in the application network. It allows application teams to clearly communicate their needs, and network teams to troubleshoot outages quickly and with greater context and visibility. It also triggers alerts based on custom conditions or performs other dynamic actions.
Configuration Management and Maintenance
The AppViewX platform helps to manage, maintain, and decommission applications across data centers. It accelerates application delivery through simple self-service forms and automated workflows, and arms application teams with self-servicing capabilities. It significantly reduces manual touch points and eradicates errors caused by manual interventions.
AppViewX also enables operational agility and service efficiency in various stages of network and application service delivery. It helps to accelerate time-to-value by providing everything necessary for complete out-of-the-box automation of application delivery network infrastructure.
Similar to the virtual server workflow, the platform’s intuitive system allows users to easily design workflows to address any application deployment scenario. This supports the centralized management and maintenance of heterogeneous application delivery infrastructure.
The “as a service” model can significantly cut costs and simplify the load balancer provisioning process. With hundreds of load balancers, leveraging automation presents many advantages. A single pane of management provides a centralized look at the load balancer inventory, including both state and status of critical business applications.
Simplifying and standardizing load balancer provisioning means less hardware overhead. This translates to reductions in resources and allows application teams to quickly tackle mundane load balancer requests so that network teams can focus on more important, value-adding projects for the business. Using an advanced automation solution like AppViewX shifts capital expenses toward important operational expenses for the business.
Try AppViewX today.