Experience with Open Source load balancers?

Andreas Echavez andreas at livejournalinc.com
Wed May 18 19:23:12 UTC 2011

We're using both an F5 BigIP as well as Nginx (open source software) in a
production environment.

They both have their merits, but when we recently came under some advanced
DDoSes (slowloris, slow POST, and more), we couldn't process certain types
of layer 7 insepction/modification because it was too heavy for the F5 to
handle. Nginx was more cost effective because we could scale laterally with
cheap commodity hardware.

This isn't a knock on the BigIP though; it's a much better piece of
equipment, has commercial support, and a fantastic web interface. With Nginx
you might find yourself compiling modules in by hand and writing config

Ultimately, the open source solution is going to stand the test of time
better. It all depends on who's paying the bills, and what your time is
worth. Nginx was specifically worth the effort for us because we had unique
traffic demands that change too quickly for a commercial solution.


On Mon, May 16, 2011 at 4:15 PM, Welch, Bryan <Bryan.Welch at arrisi.com>wrote:

> Greetings all.
> I've been tasked with comparing the use of open source load balancing
> software against commercially available off the shelf hardware such as F5,
> which is what we currently use.  We use the load balancers for traditional
> load balancing, full proxy for http/ssl traffic, ssl termination and
> certificate management, ssl and http header manipulation, nat, high
> availability of the physical hardware and stateful failover of the tcp
> sessions.  These units will be placed at the customer prem supporting our
> applications and services and we'll need to support them accordingly.
> Now my "knee jerk" reaction to this is that it's a really bad idea.  It is
> the heart and soul of our data center network after all.  However, once I
> started to think about it I realized that I hadn't had any real experience
> with this solution beyond tinkering with it at home and reading about it in
> years past.
> Can anyone offer any operational insight and real world experiences with
> these solutions?
> TIA, replies off list are welcomed.
> Regards,
> Bryan

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