As a Master ProSupport Engineer supporting complex Lync and Skype for Business deployments for our customers, it’s rare that I come across a technology company whose products and people have a real impact on me. After all, I spend a substantial part of my day troubleshooting complicated issues which can be quite challenging and frustrating, especially for a workload like Lync/SfB with so many moving parts. So it’s kind of hard to pique my interest, let alone impress me.
Over the past decade, I’ve become a fan of KEMP Technologies and their LoadMaster products. For those of you who don’t know KEMP, they are a Dell Technology Partner that provides simple and cost effective load balancers and reverse proxy solutions.
I was first introduced to KEMP through some fellow ProSupport Exchange engineers when I was looking for a reverse proxy solution for Lync 2010. Like many, I needed to replace Microsoft’s Threat Management (TMG) and Unified Access Gateway (UAG) products. I tried Microsoft’s IIS Application Request Routing (ARR) and AD FS Proxy as well as solutions from some of KEMP’s competitors but they were either missing features or way too complex. So based on the recommendation of my colleagues, I went ahead and downloaded a trial KEMP Virtual LoadMaster for Hyper-V and have been an advocate ever since.
In my opinion, KEMP sets themselves apart through three key characteristics:
Simple – I had that first trial KEMP Virtual LoadMaster downloaded and up and running in less than an hour. KEMP’s Virtual LoadMaster solution is so simple to setup, it feels like you didn't finish something when you’re done. You just download the virtual machine, do some basic configuration and – voila. It’s that simple.
One of the elements that makes LoadMaster so easy to use are KEMP’s application templates. I use the one for Lync religiously. It essentially removes the complexity related to understanding the load balancing and reverse proxy configuration requirements of the application by asking for basic environmental information any IT admin understands. There’s no need to be a load balancing or networking guru. Simply plug in the required system variables and away you go.
Stable – That same KEMP reverse proxy deployment in my lab stayed up for a year without any maintenance. That’s when I realized the product was not only simple, but also rock solid. This is really important for Dell customers since LoadMasters are often deployed with a “set it and forget it” mentality. Infrastructure like load balancers often become “part of the woodwork,” so to speak, and no one worries about them until something breaks. The last thing I want to deal with is an environment that fails because the load balancer crashes. When a customer has KEMP products powering their deployment, I know I can rest easy.
Supported – As a support professional for one of the largest technology companies on the planet, I’d say that I’m well qualified to judge a company’s support capabilities. This is another area where KEMP rocks. Their number one priority is helping their customers. In my first experience with them, I called in with a Dell field engineer who was trying to get a LoadMaster up-and-running for a customer but was having difficulty. The KEMP support rep didn't waste time trying to verify the customer’s maintenance contract but rather focused on helping us first and had the issue solved in less than 20 minutes. He then clearly explained to us what we missed and from that point on, KEMP support had earned my respect and trust.
So if you’re a Dell customer who relies on Microsoft Unified Communications solutions like Lync/SfB, Exchange and SharePoint or other mission critical applications to run your business, I would strongly encourage you to consider KEMP products for your deployment. You’ll be glad you did and so will the support engineer who may need to troubleshoot your environment several years from now.