Coyote Point Equalizer E250GX review

Price when reviewed

Coyote Point’s E250GX aims to bring affordable server load balancing to SMBs without compromising on features or performance. For less than £1,500 you get Layer 4/7 content switching, Layer 7 persistence, SSL acceleration and support for up to 64 server clusters, each with 16 physical servers apiece.

SSL acceleration is carried out in software by the appliance. The E250GX can manage up to 180 TPS, which is in the same ball park as most other load balancers in this price range.

The pair of Gigabit network ports puts it ahead of Barracuda’s Load Balancer 240. This costs around the same but has two 10/100 Ethernet ports, can’t handle more than ten physical servers, and supports only Layer 4 load balancing.

The E250GX comes with virtualisation load balancing (VLB). The Basic version provided with the appliance performs load balancing using VM availability and utilisation data. Only available on the larger Equalizer appliances, VLB Enhanced also queries the status of VMs and can control them directly.

Adding a secondary appliance brings redundant failover into play, where both use heartbeats to keep an eye on each other and to synchronise configurations. It doesn’t support Coyote Point’s Envoy global load balancing engine, but single- site SMBs are unlikely to need it.

Coyote Point Equalizer E250GX

Other features in the larger Equalizer appliances not present in the E250GX include Smart Control and Smart Events, which automate common administrative tasks. Also missing are Match Rules and Responders which, for specific events, provide custom responses or redirect commands to user requests.

Installation starts with a visit to the CLI, where you configure the network interfaces and choose a mode of operation. It supports single and dual network modes, allowing you to use it as a gateway or place all your application servers and clients on one subnet.

The web interface is basic but easy to use. First, you define virtual clusters and add physical servers to them. Load balancing is performed across all cluster members; you have a choice of seven schemes, including standard, weighted round robin and an adaptive mode that spreads new traffic to the least loaded servers.

Connection persistence for secure web transactions can be achieved using a number of methods. Sticky connections between source and destination addresses can be automatically created using Layer 4 inspection, while Layer 7 persistence can be based on content and functions such as URLs and cookies.

To test the VLB Basic feature we used an ESX Server 4 system loaded with multiple VMs running Windows Server 2008 R2. With VMware administrative access enabled for the E250GX, we could add VMs to our clusters by specifying their IP addresses.

The only product to compete closely on price and features is Kemp’s LoadMaster 2200, which replaces the 1500 model we reviewed, costs £200 more, and has four Gigabit ports. However, the E250GX has a greater focus on handling virtual servers and is better value than similar products from Barracuda.

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