I-Track Software enables data driven productivity for R&D, engineering, and production environments in high-tech manufacturing. When their previous load balancer and WAF reached end-of-life, I-Track turned to HAProxy Enterprise to maintain uptime and continuity for their mission-critical SaaS platform.
Reliability builds brand reputation
Customizable security reduces risk
Performance efficiency provides pathway to scale
Low regular maintenance reduces costs
I-Track Success Story
- Uptime for SaaS serving high-tech manufacturing
- Load balancer, WAF, SSL offloading
- 2 node VM installation on Linux servers
Simple adoption provides stress-free continuity when critical infrastructure goes EOL
When I-Track Software’s previous load balancer and WAF, Snapt Nova, reached end-of-life (EOL) in the summer of 2022, I-Track couldn’t afford a lengthy process to identify and adopt a new solution. For Ian, who admits he’s not an expert in load balancing, it was important to keep things simple. With this in mind, Ian wanted to replace their EOL system with a similar product to minimize disruption. Like many software load balancers, Snapt Nova was built on the open source version of HAProxy, so Ian identified HAProxy Enterprise as an obvious candidate for the replacement.
Ian was keen to avoid the complexity that often affects the deployment of software load balancers. While I-Track’s previous load balancer was deployed in Docker containers, Ian preferred not to repeat this method because it required a lot of system level configuration to set up. Looking for virtual machine (VM) deployment options, he disqualified Loadbalancer.org because the images provided were incompatible with I-Track’s OpenStack hypervisors. With HAProxy Enterprise, Ian found a simpler way to deploy – manual installation of a VM on a simple Linux server. They could spin it up anywhere with minimal resources without relying on an image that had to go through validation in OpenStack.
"There’s a Docker container for HAProxy Enterprise but I don't think it's critical because you don't need to do as much. It's more self contained. I guess HAProxy is just very well built. You get it up-and-running and boom: there's not a whole lot of extra stuff you need to do."Ian Chizmar, CEO and Chief Architect
Management of I-Track’s new solution also had to be simple. When Ian got hands-on with HAProxy Enterprise, he was initially worried it would be an uphill battle learning to use the file-based configuration. However, Ian was surprised by how quickly he got used to it. The configuration file was short and well-documented, with a good learning curve.
"I remembered I used to run a Quake server in college and that was all text file configuration so I was worried at first. But HAProxy Enterprise really is quite simple to learn and now I kind of like it. It’s pretty darn easy."Ian Chizmar, CEO and Chief Architect
HAProxy Technologies’ premium support helped I-Track get the most value out of HAProxy Enterprise, while keeping stress to a minimum. Ian praised the support for its quick turnaround, detailed responses, and ability to look beyond the immediate issue.
I’m not a load balancer expert, I’m not a WAF expert. So if my business is going to rely on this layer, I need to know that I can call HAProxy and get somebody on the phone in a short amount of time and get the issue resolved. So it was great to see that HAProxy answered my questions very completely and with a lot of detail and helped me out quite a bit.
Rock solid reliability builds trust in I-Track’s SaaS product
I-Track cannot compromise on reliability. Their customers depend on it. High tech manufacturing expects round-the-clock operation, so I-Track’s manufacturing execution software (MES) and lab information management software (LIMS) need to provide 24/7 uptime.
Ian says the industry is cautious in adopting SaaS solutions (despite their cost-efficiency and fast deployment) because it takes time to build trust in critical applications that are not deployed on-premises. If I-Track’s SaaS infrastructure were overloaded or affected by unscheduled maintenance, customers would experience unacceptable slowdown or downtime.
I-Track has worked hard to build a reputation for reliability and SaaS infrastructure the manufacturing industry can trust, with Ian pointing out that I-Track customers have experienced zero unscheduled downtime in the last two years.
HAProxy Enterprise gives Ian and his team confidence that their infrastructure will be reliable and able to meet or exceed customer expectations. Ian praised HAProxy Enterprise for doing its job invisibly and dependably, allowing I-Track’s application to shine through.
"If we suffer outages, we look like a small company – like we’re not able to maintain things. It doesn't matter how good our product is, we're going to lose business. So reliable infrastructure is critically important. HAProxy’s stability has been absolutely fantastic. I have had zero problems with stability. It’s been absolutely rock solid."Ian Chizmar, CEO and Chief Architect
Scalable performance sets a cost-efficient route to future growth
I-Track is a small business but with an eye to future growth. Ian acknowledged that they can’t afford to scale out inefficiently by simply buying a lot of servers. They have to be smart about how they use their resources and that means optimizing every layer in their infrastructure stack. Performance in the load balancing and WAF layer is key to providing a responsive user experience, relieving pressure on other layers in the stack, and unlocking efficient scaling.
By offloading SSL and WAF onto HAProxy Enterprise, I-Track can optimize their other layers to do what they’re best at. Their Apache Tomcat servers can focus on brokering requests, and the Cloudflare CDN can act as the reverse proxy and WAF layer at the edge. Ian said the addition of HAProxy Enterprise helps ensure their stack is very efficient.
As for load balancing performance, Ian was stunned by HAProxy Enterprise’s speed and efficiency. With two nodes deployed in a redundant pair on small Linux servers with 2 vCPU and 2GB RAM, Ian noted that HAProxy Enterprise had more than enough performance to maintain low latency for I-Track’s traffic volumes, with plenty of room to grow.
“I am amazed at what HAProxy can do with two cores and two gigs of RAM. It’s insane. That should not be possible. You can tell that it is very well optimized and very good at doing what it does."Ian Chizmar, CEO and Chief Architect
When considering the future growth of I-Track’s successful ToolTrack platform, Ian reflected that it’s not all about transaction volumes – it’s what you do with those transactions that counts. I-Track provides its customers high value from relatively low transaction volumes: tens of thousands of requests per day. Nevertheless, Ian sees the potential to grow that number significantly as they add more customers.
Thankfully, Ian can focus his attention on scaling I-Track’s infrastructure capacity without worrying about the load balancing layer. HAProxy Enterprise’s two nodes provide more than enough capacity for the foreseeable future. Ever the forward planner, Ian expects to eventually add a third node or upgrade the servers from two cores to four. Meanwhile, HAProxy Enterprise just keeps doing what it needs to do.
"I feel 100% confident we can grow without worrying about HAProxy Enterprise being able to keep up. It has tons and tons of headroom to handle more concurrent connections. HAProxy Enterprise in our environment is just absolutely bored!"Ian Chizmar, CEO and Chief Architect
Security customization reduces risk and maintenance time
Security threats could affect I-Track’s crucial reliability record so Ian takes this very seriously. While I-Track relies on their CDN to provide security at the edge, Ian was looking for a load balancer that would protect their origin servers with a built-in web application firewall (WAF). Mindful of I-Track’s unique needs and limited resources, Ian prioritized customization and a low maintenance overhead.
Ian noted that alternatives such as Loadbalancer.org only include OWASP Core Rule Set compatibility (for example, by using ModSecurity). This approach wasn’t sufficiently robust or transparent for I-Track. Ian wanted more control over how good and bad traffic was identified, the response policies applied by the WAF, and visibility into the operation and decision-making.
When Ian evaluated HAProxy Enterprise’s WAF, he found what he was looking for. It gave Ian more control and insight, with customizable threat scoring, conditional rules, response policies, and verbose logging. This gave Ian confidence that I-Track’s security was in good hands.
I have more control with the HAProxy Enterprise WAF than I would with a standard open source WAF. It’s awesome and a big factor in why we chose HAProxy Enterprise.
A high degree of customization sometimes adds maintenance overhead, but not with HAProxy Enterprise; Ian said that maintenance across two nodes amounts to only one or two hours per month. HAProxy Enterprise’s efficient tooling allows I-Track to get the benefits of security customization while investing very little regular staff time, which increases value and reduces the total cost of ownership.
Improve the reliability of your critical applications with HAProxy Enterprise
To see how we can provide increased reliability, scalable performance, and adaptable security for your applications and APIs, contact HAProxy Technologies for a demo and a trial of HAProxy Enterprise.