Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together

ZXTM Virtual Appliance Flies on vSphere


I wrote about my favourite software IP traffic Manager, the ZXTM in a previous post.

Zeus have just released a white-paper benchmarking their ZXTM virtual appliance running on vSphere.

Interesting to note that for plain HTTP traffic they noted a 25% performance increase over ESX 3.5u4 and were able to max out the 4Gb/s links configured to the VMs and host machine – indicating that there is a very low overhead for the vSphere 4 hypervisor layer in handling network traffic.

The ZXTM can rapidly serve items from it’s cache as well as handling load balancing/URL redirection/writing etc. – which in a production environment would mean offloading traffic from the web server itself with the net-result being fewer web-servers and consolidated ZXTM VMs.

Interestingly, multi vCPU configurations performed better than a native install of the OS, which would indicate the vSphere 4 hypervisor is more efficient at CPU scheduling than the native OS (x64 Ubuntu).

whilst there is a higher CPU overhead for handling SSL transactions as it needs to decrypt and process traffic on the CPU itself the improvements in multi-vCPU performance and low network overhead mean that if you were building a large-scale web platform you could treat the ZXTM as a scale-out SSL offload engine, but do it on commodity, virtualized or physical x64 hardware rather than specialized ASIC type hardware (Cisco ACE etc.), with the end-result being a more flexible architecture at a lower cost and no hardware-vendor lock-in; “it’s just software”.

The performance whitepaper is available from Zeus here; you can download an eval copy here and a colleague also has some interesting articles about ZXTM configurations on his blog here.

Zeus are a key part of my cloud reference architecture, and offer service-provider type licensing as well as full support for virtualization – including HyperV which play well to deliver flexibility either for private, public or hybrid cloud solutions.

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