Kent County Council has deployed Kemp Technologies load-balancing equipment in its datacentres to support the implementation of a desktop and application virtualisation solution for more than 6,500 users at 300 sites.
The council's lead technical architect, Glen Larkin, said heavy cuts to council budgets and the expectation that further savings will have to be made had led to the implementation of virtualisation in an attempt to rationalise the council’s estate and enable more flexible working practices.
Working closely with its service provider, Phoenix Software, the authority chose VMware Horizon View and Workspace to build a virtual, unified environment for delivering more than 300 applications, including Oracle E-Business Suite and MS Exchange 2010, as well a number of customised line-of-business apps.
Kemp was enlisted to address the need for increased application delivery functionality and scalability natively on Cisco Unified Compute System (UCS), the platform on which the virtualised infrastructure will be hosted.
“We looked at a number of load balancers,” said Larkin. “Kemp was simple enough to deliver all our requirements. F5 is all-singing, all-dancing, but we would have been paying for more functionality than we needed.
“A lot of load-balancing suppliers are coming up with Horizon View-specific solutions, but they’re not in the field yet. We wanted something proven, because this is a big investment.”
The council has two datacentres, one in Maidstone and one shared with its neighbour, Medway Council. At each site, it has deployed two Cisco UCS chassis with dual Kemp GEO multi-site load balancers.
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Kemp said its LoadMaster operating system (OS) software for UCS was currently the only application delivery controller (ADC) OS on the market optimised for bare metal installation in a UCS fabric without needing a hypervisor.
This, it said, allowed for better performance and cut down the amount of application traffic crossing the higher-latency network outside the UCS fabric.
LoadMaster for UCS offers Layer 4-7 server load balancing, SSL offload and acceleration, data caching and compression, along with a Layer 7 intrusion prevention and security features including pre-authentication, single sign-on and persistent logging.
“Layer 7 workload optimisation with LoadMaster for Cisco UCS increases application performance and provides ultra-low-latency app delivery through tight integration with the underlying platform,” said Jason Dover, director of technical product marketing at Kemp.
“It allows Kent County Council to leverage its investment in Cisco infrastructure by converting a UCS blade into a dedicated ADC with Kemp’s LoadMaster operating system, eliminating the need for external hardware load-balancers.”
Larkin added that, subject to the technology proving itself – it is currently available to 150 users spread around the council’s estate with a full roll-out planned for early 2015 – he plans to implement it across the entire UCS stack.
“Just trying to get people to use VDI has been a challenge because it requires a lot of behavioural change and business change,” said Larkin. “But people are already saying life is easier – they can move around and be more flexible.”