Product review: Barracuda Load Balancer leads with value
Barracuda appliance delivers the load balancing essentials, if few frills, at a terrific price
Known for anti-spam appliances and firewalls, Barracuda Networks is relatively new to the load-balancing game. The company's series of load balancers span the range from a basic 10-server model that starts at $1,995 to an enterprise model with an entry price of $8,999 and that supports an unlimited number of servers and virtual clusters. As the models increase in size and cost, they also add some nice features. These include active/passive high availability that is extremely easy to set up, the ability to route traffic based on the type of service (layer 7 load balancing), cookie persistence for e-commerce (and other applications that need to identify users from one session to the next), and hardware-based SSL acceleration.
The Barracuda Load Balancer 340 was easy to install, with a clean, quick initial configuration. The default installation uses keyboard, mouse, and monitor, but there’s a procedure to apply a default IP address for initial configuration by browser, if you prefer. Once that first configuration is done, setting up clusters is straightforward, although not quite as easy as with some of the more mature products. For instance, the dialog for adding servers to a cluster applies to only one server at a time; you have to close, then open another box to add each additional server. Some of the other load balancers will let you add multiple servers in a single dialog box -- not a big deal, but typical of a less mature interface. A convenient auto-discovery feature finds available servers and lets you add them to a cluster with a click. The Barracuda also does a good job with performance monitoring and reports, although with not quite as many options as, say, the F5 BIG-IP.
[ No load balancer we've reviewed beats the Barracuda on price, but the Kemp Load Master is a notch plusher and not much pricier. Read more in the InfoWorld Test Center's guide to load balancers and application accelerators, and the review of Kemp Technologies Load Master 1500. ]
The Barracuda 340 has two Ethernet ports, as do the less expensive 240 and pricier 440. These are gigabit ports for the 340 and 440, and 10/100 for the 240. These models should do the trick for most small load-balancing setups. For those setting up internally facing Web sites for application delivery or other applications that require higher port counts, the Barracuda 640 offers 12 gigabit ports. The 240 is limited to 10 physical servers, the 340 to 35, the 440 to 50, and the 640 to 250 servers. All models include an intrusion prevention feature that should block DoS attacks and other TCP/IP based attacks such as SYN floods.