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Zeus Technology Authors: Maureen O'Gara, Pat Romanski, Michael Sheehan, Engin Sezici, Liz McMillan

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XML: Article

Zeus Enables XML, SSL, and Traffic Management

Zeus Enables XML, SSL, and Traffic Management

Zeus Technology, a leader in Web infrastructure management, released a high-level overview designed to show how Zeus Extensible Traffic Manger (ZXTM) with TrafficScript, can solve many problems encountered in service architectures. Zeus recently added Document Systems to its list of client companies who have adopted its next-generation traffic management system. Unlike other similar applications, TrafficScript can read every and all incoming requests from any protocol, allowing companies to route messages according to their needs.

Zeus utilizes the XML language itself in making informed routing decision. Business logic is often embedded within this mark up language, which TrafficManager parses using a feature known as XPath found in TrafficScript. Many customers are attracted to Zeus' flagship product because of the high degree of scalability it offers. ZXTM allows application clusters to be resized to ensure equilibrium between applications running on systems, and sudden, sharp spikes in traffic volume. TrafficScript can customize application settings for individual customers by reading and converting cookie-based preferences to meet customer expectation, without the redeveloping and retesting that ordinarily is involved with customer response initiatives.

Within IT departments, ZXTM can take up some application monitoring reasonability, in order to give IT staff more time in developing resilient databases. This is accomplished through the addition of a second ZXTM that synchronizes atomically with the original ZXTM. Using a kind of "tag-and-relay" operability it creates between databases and servers used in IT departments. The two applications work in concert so that no single point of failure is allowed to exist. Enterprise environments are further supported by provisions in TrafficScript enabling the trafficking tool to monitor interoffice database requests in addition to client-application requests.

Zeus explained that what sets it apart from other traffic management systems is the infinite number of active and standby units that can be clustered together. Most traffic managers have to be deployed in active pairs. ZXTM's XML parsing capabilities along with its integration between databases and servers lightens the load placed on CPUs when translating from SQL to XML, and then from different dialects of XML, ultimately resulting in XSLT. This is often the case found with databases, whereby application servers must communicate with them using SQL, and then further converting this data into XML for further processing. Zeus' TrafficScript manipulates XML traffic natively, and allows application servers to access databases via ZXTM. The ZXTM cluster can be configured to perform XSLT transformation. This allows enterprise systems to more effectively utilize their processing power for tasks that are more intensive.

Zeus, noting the increasing use of XML said, "XSLT processing by ZXTM is another example of offloading specific tasks to an application specifically optimized for the job. Even if you don't use XML to exchange data between applications today it is inevitable that you will, given the reliance application vendors have on XML already." ZXTM comes XML-ready and can immediately start offloading XSLT processing to ZXTM. This allows for rapid return on investment (ROI) to be realized.

What sets Zeus apart in traffic management solutions, is not only the way it utilizes XML, but the inclusively it offers working with XML, SSL-encrypting, and integrated traffic management capabilities.

What is startling for many developers not familiar with all of ZXTM's capabilities is how effectively it handles SSL transactions. SSL-encrypting is a security standard that protects sensitive information, that is broadcast by  Web services, from being seen by transmitting it in encrypted form. However, SSL induces a toll on CPUs that can be so dramatic, as to prevent the provisioning of this capability. ZXTM can handle, according to Zeus, more SSL transaction per second on standard server hardware than most competing products can manage with expensive, third-party cryptographic hardware. Zeus explained that its traffic management solution could do so, because of performance optimization in 64-bit processors that it can take advantage of. "The result," Zeus said, "is that you don't need to compromise the confidentiality of your customers' (and your own) data just to reduce costs."

ZXTM TrafficScript is one of the most modular of application services that can grow with a company according to how they develop their systems. While compatibility between applications is promised by many vendors in the technology world at large, often times 100% compatibility is not achieved and environments can become unnecessarily complex. ZXTM, according to Zeus, is able to solve compatibility problems by integrating and sitting at the heart of IT networks. From this position, compatibility concerns are alleviated by managing, manipulating, and enhancing the flow of information between services.

Zeus allows anyone to freely evaluate Zeus Extensible Traffic Manager by downloading it from its Web site, www.zeus.com. According to the company, it only takes a few minutes to deploy into systems.

More Stories By XML News Desk

The XML-Journal News Desk monitors the world of XML and SOA /Web services to present IT professionals with updates on technology advances and business trends, as well as new products and standards.

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Most Recent Comments
Harry Frankham 10/15/04 08:28:55 AM EDT

At last! A mainstream vendor that actually understands XML. Somebody's figured out that applications speak XML, and that you need to examine that traffic as a whole to decide where to send it. I'd gone through hell trying to use pattern match rules on other load balancers like BIG-IP until I realized that BIG-IP only looked at the first chunk of the data.

I grabbed a quick trial copy of Zeus' ZXTM after reading this article and had a play with their XML features. Their support for XML in their TrafficScript language is pretty comprehensive given all the other things that it can do, and with a bit of help from TrafficScript docs, I was able to perform XPath matching and XSL transformations with no bother at all.

I haven't had a chance to really hammer ZXTM - I'm interested in seeing how their SSL shapes up, but it looks pretty easy to configure. I'd be happy to write up my testing in a more formal review if anyone's interested.

Harry