In our production environment that we host at Rackspace we have an F5 Big IP load balancer. This is an excellent product that has way more features than we can ever hope to need.
One problem with this setup is that in our development and staging environments we do not have load balancing and this has caused some issues when moving to production. Some of the issues we’ve had stem around session persitence and what server the sessions are landing on. These can be hard to troubleshoot, and if you aren’t seeing them in the Dev or QA processes you are debugging while in production which is not good.
It became pretty evident that we needed to make our staging environment as much like production as we could, so I started to poke around for a virtual load balancer. After a bit of searching I found several that seemed to fit the need, but many of them were not free. With a bit more digging I found that the Zeus Traffic Manager product has a developer licence that is free to use for non production environments. This suits our needs very well as this is just for staging testing.
I downloaded the VMWare template and had the box up in running in no time. The initial web config is quick and easy, and the developer license was good for 1 year. After which I assume/hope I can still get another free one.
The web based configuration is clean an easy to understand. I have never administered a Load Balancer myself, and even so I was able to get all of our staging sites up and running with thier own pools, healthchecks, session persistence settings and everything we have in production. Our QA team tells me that the speed is noticably better and it has already helped us uncover some issues that we have been fighting with our production servers.
All in this has been a great addition and the best price you can hope for.
Take a look and let me know your experience