A regular question for Blue Coat is how to achieve high availability. One of the answers is use a load balancer, and most networks already have a load balancer but don’t know about it.
The IOS Server Load Balancing (SLB) is good for most cases requiring load balancing and for load balancing two ProxySG makes an excellent solution for small and medium networks.
Using Cisco IOS Load Balancer
This feature seems to unknown to most network engineers. Cisco’s IOS has a SLB function in certain IOS images in IOS Modular Routers and Catalyst switches. I have used the feature in the C6500 Supervisor several times and have been very happy with the results.
It doesn’t have a lot of the features that Cisco ACE or an F5 LTM load balancers will have but TCP or IP load balancing it works perfectly.
The IOS SLB feature in the C6500 performs well in excess of 500 Megabits per second in my experience on a Supervisor 720 at about 30% CPU utilisation. This suggests that peak performance could be much higher. On a Supervisor II I have seen up to 200 Mbps at about 25% average CPU, again implying a much higher maximum or peak rate.
Here is what the IOS configuration looks like:
interface Vlan 11 ip address 192.168.1.254 255.255.255.0 interface Vlan 12 ip address 192.168.2.254 255.255.255.0 ip slb serverfarm SOPROXY nat server real 192.168.1.1 faildetect numconns 2 retry 15 inservice ! real 192.168.1.2 faildetect numconns 2 retry 15 inservice ! ip slb vserver SOWPAD virtual 192.168.2.10 tcp www serverfarm SOPROXY idle 10 delay 5 inservice
And that is it. This is a simple load balancing configuration for IP connections. It will detect the failure of Proxy server when a certain number of TCP SYNs fail to achieve a connection and automatically direct connections to the other server(note: bad when installing and testing, but works fine in real life).
Protocol and Application Issues
You should note that the HTTP Protocol does not require state to be preserved, its a stateless protocol, and the Bluecoat ProxySG uses NTLM transparent authentication so that when the user switch from one proxy to the other there is no loss of service. Hypothetically, the caching on the ProxySG may not be optimal since the content may not have been previously requested through this unit, but this remains transparent to the user as the content is automatically refreshed.
You can always weight the real servers or you can configure a ‘backup server’ configuration to address this use case.
Lots of Options
You can find the full configuration details at the Cisco web site where this is documented in a lot of detail. This configuration is very simple since it uses in-line service detection. But I wanted to show you how easy it is to use IOS SLB. You don’t need to buy an F5 LTM or Cisco Application Control Engine for load balancing, about half the time some IOS Server Load Balancing is more than enough.
Go and do it.