Test Center guide: Load balancers and Web accelerators

Barracuda, Citrix, Coyote Point, F5, Kemp, and Zeus offerings stretch from no-frills appliances with basic load balancing to kitchen-sink solutions with rule-based traffic management, application security, and application performance optimizations; here's how to pick 'em, based on our tests 

Zeus ZXTM 7000 4.0r1
Very Good  8.4
Bottom Line
: The ZXTM 7000 offers a wide variety of features beyond the standard load balancing, and it’s easily expanded as needed. Although not quite as powerful or polished as competitors such as the BIG-IP, it is nevertheless easy to set up and manage, and it can be scaled by clustering up to 64 units.

How I tested
To test the performance of each product, I set up several servers with the same Web site (a demo version of an e-commerce site) and created a virtual cluster with those servers in it. The servers varied in processor number and power. I then used an Ixia 400T traffic generator and Aptixia IxLoad software to simulate a large number of users accessing the Web site, and compared the loads generated on each server. I then enabled features such as SSL sessions, Web acceleration, and application security, and attempted to overload the load balancer by simulating many simultaneous users.

Testing the Web application acceleration features of the products is more problematic. The greatest improvements in delivery of pages from the Web servers will occur when the server is heavily loaded (or would be heavily loaded if the load balancer weren’t present. The type of content being delivered also makes a big difference – static HTML pages will see big improvements while dynamic pages using .ASP, CGI, Java, or other application servers may not seem much faster. The performance of the server delivering the application will be the gating factor rather than network performance.

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