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Load Balancing and Performance with BorderManager

Novell Cool Solutions: Tip
By Craig Johnson

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Posted: 4 Apr 2007
 

Problem

A Forum reader recently asked:

"Would it help performance through our BorderManager 3.8 SP5 server (NetWare 6.5 SP5) to have two paths through the BM server? Specifically, we are having performance issues and wondered if we should create two paths for our different class C IP ranges to go through. Can you setup proxy to route traffic for different IP ranges, or does it just load balance all traffic?"

And here's the answer from BorderManager expert Craig Johnson ...

Solution

First off, you can only put one packet at a time through a NIC, so having multiple addresses or different links to a NIC isn't going to make that part any faster. And since a 1GB NIC can handle huge amounts of data, my guess is that a NIC is not a bottleneck for you, regardless of how many networks are connected to it.

Second, BorderManager (proxy or router from NetWare) doesn't load-balance.

As far as routing traffic for different IP ranges, have a look at tip #51 here: http://www.craigjconsulting.com

That said, if you need more bandwidth, you could:

  • Optimize what you have now, by making sure BMgr is tuned efficiently, and filtering/blocking unwanted traffic.
  • Get a higher bandwidth link to the ISP.
  • Load-balance multiple different ISP links.

As far as load balancing goes, you can't do it with NetWare (with the rare exception of certain well-defined processes, like dedicating one link to a Site-Site VPN and the other link for all else). But you can do it with load-balancing routers in front of NetWare.

I've been working with a couple of devices that do this very cheaply ($100-200 range). Xincom makes some routers for this, and Dlink has an LB604 (which seems to be a Xincom clone in the menus). Each of these devices has some limitations, and the real selling point to them is the extremely cheap price!

The limitations are mostly related to inbound traffic - if you have only one device for each port number coming in, you don't have much of a problem. But if you have, say 3 web servers, and you static NAT the public IP address on one WAN link to them, then those servers cannot use the second link because they are tied to the first link. You can use the BorderManager reverse proxy or generic proxy to allow connections on the second link, but there are some limitations you have to be aware of when configuring things.


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