Are you crazy to buy a hardware load balancer?

Are you crazy to buy a hardware load balancer?

Comparisons Published on 4 mins Last updated

There’s no doubt that the software adoption trend for load balancers is increasing - and the likelihood is that this will continue. After all, it makes sense right? The numbers look nicer on the budget sheet, you can take the virtual ADC wherever you want, it runs on any standard device, and it easily scales beyond the initial capacity.

But — Hardware has always had one major advantage:
It's a lot easier to guarantee performance and high-availability when you're not fighting for resources on virtualized infrastructure...

So we're not going to stop selling hardware ADCs in a hurry, but we expect most new customers to be using virtual or cloud appliances for most workloads. Because Virtual ADCs are incredibly flexible in comparison to hardware, both in terms of physical deployment, and licensing flexibility.

Licensing models for ADCs have changed over the years to adjust for the growing demand. Most vendors now offer consumption-based or subscription models, with packages covering all deployment options, across a broad range of products. The objective is to give you the ability to pay for what you use, switch vendors easily, automate provisioning, and get the best features for the best price.

However, on closer inspection the options on the market are either not as flexible as they appear or more expensive than you may expect.

Flexible ADC licencing agreements — are they any good?

Enterprise Licensing Agreement:


  • Gives you unlimited deployments across platforms and a variety of ADCs for a fixed annual cost calculated on a specific spending amount.
  • Allows for self-licensing and rapid application delivery.


  • An annual budget commitment that ties you in for a number of years.
  • Overages that are added to your budget subsequently, so the spend still increases based on usage.
  • Potential of over-paying if yearly capacity and commitment have been underestimated.

An example of this could be found in the F5 licensing model.

Pooled Capacity Licensing:


  • Designed to give ultimate flexibility to move capacity where it is needed.
  • Commit to a certain throughput and deploy as many licenses as necessary up to the capacity specified upfront, regardless of platform or form factors.
  • Licenses can be checked in or out as needed, making the provisioning much easier.


  • Each instance needs to be configured with enough capacity to allow for spikes - therefore reducing your available pool.
  • Commitment to a throughput means that you are limited to what you have.
  • Annual contracts restrict the ease with which you can switch vendors.

Citrix and A10 offer similar versions.

Metered Enterprise Licensing:


  • A consumption-based model that charges for the overall traffic used.
  • No limits in the load balancing throughput or number of load balancing instances that can be deployed.
  • Based on a monthly data throughput subscription.


  • Difficult to predict costing.
  • Becomes expensive as cost is calculated on peak usage across all instances every month.
  • Again, an annual commitment is required so your flexibility is limited.

One example is the Kemp MELA.

So these options are OK But:

- What if you don't know how much capacity you need?
- What if you don't know how fast demand will grow?
- What if you loose control with rapidly increasing costs? might have the ideal solution for you.

Site and Multi-Site Perpetual License:


  • It gives you total flexibility in automating provisioning, in the simplest possible way, for a fixed price.
  • Our site and multi-site licenses provide unlimited instances on premise, and in the cloud - no limitations whatsoever.
  • They are available as a perpetual license or as a subscription model.
  • It is the most cost-effective solution, with zero limitations, enabling IT teams to deploy as many virtual ADCs as needed.
  • Think about allocating one load balancer per application so it is fully dedicated to the app it is supporting. Full application performance, no resource sharing, at no extra cost.


  • Our awesome 24/7 support is intended for you and your staff — Not all of your customers :-).

This the best option in the market on offer that will help you de-risk your architecture without hurting your budget.


Flexible Monthly Subscriptions for single, multiple or even site licences:

With no annual commitment and fixed monthly costs, this option is ideal to keep OPEX costs as low as possible and guarantees no vendor lock-in. With an awesome product, of course! You know what you are paying for and what the numbers will be on your budget sheet. And the best part…

We even offer monthly subscriptions for HARDWARE!

Really? Monthly Subscription on Hardware?

Ta-da! Whoever said that hardware is dead is exaggerating to say the least! Because software is complicated, messy and easily breaks. Any organization born before 2010 with a large user base, will still rely on their own on premise solutions for many years to come.

Furthermore, use cases for hardware are still valid when you’re looking for:

  1. Top performance
  2. Dedicated resource
  3. Better security and privacy controls
  4. Having your data close to you…
  5. Not to mention any hardware currently in your data centre in dire need of a replacement.

Hence we’ve introduced a monthly subscription on hardware to address your current needs. Forget about putting a business case for costly hardware investments, get quick approval with a monthly subscription that becomes an operating cost which looks good on the budget sheet. And when you no longer need it, we take it back. Here's more info about our hardware subscriptions.

So, Are you crazy to buy a hardware load balancer?

No, you’re not crazy to buy a hardware load balancer.
Just choose a vendor that is crazy enough to offer hardware subscriptions!

A cost-effective hardware load balancer?

Yes please!