Why WebMux™? - An Executive Summary
The advance of the Internet and Intranet in the last few years has
made many fundamental changes to cooperative and enterprise computing
both within and without for companies large and small alike.
Just a few years ago few companies even had a web site, and those web
sites often contained only minimal information. But all that has
changed now. Few companies can afford not to have a web presence
these days. The web has become an indispensable marketing and sales
tool. As e-commerce progresses, the role of the web site becomes
ever more important.
Just as important is to make information available via the web to
both customers and vendors. Companies are increasingly relying on web
and other IP based applications to distribute information within the
enterprise. In the past, information distribution either relied on
limited proprietary IT systems or on nothing at all. In today's
highly competitive global market place, fast and accurate worldwide
information distributions have become a key to success.
Since IP based applications such as web, e-mail and FTP have taken
such an important role within a corporation, it is vital to reduce
downtime to a minimum. Any down time means lower productivity and lost
business opportunity. While the immediate monetary cost of downtime can
indeed be very significant, the loss of goodwill from customers can
be even longer lasting and more costly.
An IP based application server such as a web server has a fixed
load capacity. When the load exceeds certain level, performance
begins to degrade. One solution is to upgrade the web server to meet
the demand. But many companies have found out that they simply could
not keep up the upgrade pace with Internet usage demands. Furthermore,
the law of diminishing return applies. The cost often goes up
exponentially compared to linear performance gain. On the other hand,
the trade-in value of the existing server is often very low.
Another solution is to use multiple web servers and a style simple
round-robin of load balancing. In this solution a number of severs
are grouped together and act as one server to the clients. One of
the servers often runs a control program as traffic cop with other
servers running associated programs which communicate with the controlling
server. This control program processes all incoming requests from the
clients and distributes the requests to other servers in a round-robin
fashion. The attractiveness of this solution is it makes incremental
upgrade possible with a cost/performance ratio closer to linear. On
the other hand, the additional software overhead degrades each server to
some extent and the speed of routing requests is poor. Furthermore,
this type of simple control and associated software solution cannot
address more complex IP applications that require persistent connections
between the client and the server. Reliability is poor, as we will
discuss in the next section.
The best solution is to employ CAI Networks' WebMux™ for IP
based server load balancing. In this solution WebMux acts as the
traffic cop. Let's use a web server as an example. WebMux processes all
the incoming web page requests from clients. It then routes the
requests to a group of web servers or a web farm. High performances
is achieved by using a dedicated high speed hardware platform working in
tandem with uniquely efficient algorithms that provide not only ultra high
speed IP routing to the web farms but also meet the high demands of
today's Internet applications.
Simply put, high availability means minimum down time. To most
companies, uptime is more important than performance. It is not hard
to imagine that if a company's web site is on one server, when that
server goes down so goes the web presence.
The reliability is not necessary assured by using a simple web farm.
In the last section, the performance of using a simple round-robin
software solution on each of the web farm servers was discussed. At a
glance this solution seems to offer at least some degree of fault
tolerance if not performance. Upon closer examination however one will
realize there is not much of fault tolerance afforded by this solution.
The setup of the web farm using this solution is often complex and
prone to crash due to improper setup. The additional control and
associated software create their own resource demand that may cause a
system crash under certain load condition. Furthermore, in some instances
one or more services of a particular server may be down but the server
itself is still running, and a simple control program may not be able
to detect the underlying failure and keep routing requests to the
failed server. Finally, if the server on which the control software
resides crashes, the whole farm will crash along with the main server.
WebMux on the other hand uses a dedicated hardware platform with an
optimized algorithm that does not contain unnecessary overhead, software
interaction or resource contention. If a server within the web farm fails
either in whole or in part, WebMux will switch the failed server
out of the web farm and alert the system operator.
The Webmux can provide an additional level of fault tolerant protection
by installing a secondary WebMux. In the very unlikely event that the
primary WebMux fails, a secondary WebMux will take over, thereby
maintaining the system's presence.
Ease of Use
Installing new IT equipment often produces high anxiety, not to
mention a headache when the installation goes wrong. WebMux is
designed to not only make the installation process straightforward but
also to have minimal system downtime during the process. For extra peace
of mind, one day on-site installation is included with WebMux Pro models.
The cost of maintaining today's IT equipment and software is
getting higher along with the complexity. WebMux's intelligent console provides
easy yet secure access via browser from anywhere in the world for
configuration and checking system status. Unlike other products, special
skills are not required.
In any setup, constant manual interaction not only adds to the cost
but also increases possible human errors. In an installation with a
primary and secondary WebMux, the secondary WebMux will auto configure
itself with the primary's configuration. While this feature may sound
simple it is very important. Some competing products require manual
configuration to update the secondary. If the operator forgets to
update configuration files, the secondary will not work properly and
render the whole setup useless.
To further ensure a worry free operation, our professional support staff
is just a phone call away. Optional services include additional one
year 7x24 toll-free support and 24 hour express exchange of a failed device.
The open nature of the Internet often invites hackers. The potential
treats of loss due to unlawful attack cannot be underestimated.
WebMux offers firewall functions that intercept and reject attack attempts.
While some competing products offer only very standalone limited firewall
functions or none at all, WebMux acts as a sophisticated firewall.
Firewall products with similar functionality can easily cost as much
as WebMux itself.
Total Cost of Ownership
Yet, despite all the advantages we have discussed, a company does not
need WebMux to have a web presence and/or other IP applications. Even
though WebMux is the most cost effective high performance solution
available, it still costs from about $5,000 up to $20,000 plus the
cost of the redundant servers. And, yes, there are "cheaper" or
even "free" software solutions out there and besides, it is human
nature not to spend seemingly "unnecessary" money.
If the above are all true, why should any company want to spend
resources to employ WebMux as part of their total IT solution? The answer
is very simple. The true costs of the "alternative" solutions are
Take a "do nothing" approach as example. What is the cost of the
corporate web going down for a day? The recent high profile incidents
of some popular Internet sites were down for various period of time.
The measurable cost alone is already several times the cost of WebMux,
not to mention the unmeasurable cost of lost goodwill and public
embarrassment. And there is the cost of having people on duty or
on call 7x24. With WebMux, immediate action may not be needed in
most of the cases, thus saving the peace of mind of the system operator
and over time expense to the company.
How about the "cheap" and "free" solutions? Well, nothing is really
"free". Yes, some OS include a simple round-robin type of load
balancing. Others have made similar software solutions available.
But developing advanced algorithms, adding firewall function, tunning
the performance to fit your
needs, developing and testing hardware that can last for a long time
do cost money. Hire consultant will cost more money than buy a
WebMux with free support and three year warranty. In addition, since
using hardware similar to web server boxes trying to balance,
reliability and fault tolerance are extremely poor.
A barely better than "do nothing" solution can end up just as costly,
besides providing a false sense of security.
Ok, so using the same argument shouldn't every one just go for the
big bucks and big name solution? Better performance and better
reliability, one should definitely go for them. But simply throwing good
money away for a big name will not buy performance and reliability.
The WebMux family is not only based on an innovative design, but also
uses highest quality components to assure the highest possible
reliability. Take the cooling fan for example, a small part indeed.
But it can wrack havoc if a cheap fan fails in a very short time.
WebMux uses a high quality German made fan with hardened ball bearings.
Unlike some high priced competing products that use a hard disk inside,
WebMux is diskless which improves both performance and more importantly
reliability several fold.
So what then is the true cost of ownershipn? Since it will save money are
other resources for a corporation in more ways than one, it really
should be considered as a net cash flow generator that will pay for
itself several times over.
Want to know more? Please give us a call at (714) 550-0901. We will
be more than happy to discuss your requirements and suggest the best
solution for you.