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LivePerson Supports up to 10 Million Concurrent Connections per Second with F5 Solution

Software as a service (SaaS) provider LivePerson holds the reputations of more than 8,500 global businesses in its hands. If its network were to fail, the results could damage its clients’ brand images and customer satisfaction. LivePerson deployed F5 VIPRION and F5 BIG-IP Advanced Firewall Manager to deliver the exceptional performance and security its clients expect.

Business Challenges

 

LivePerson provides web marketing services and an online engagement platform and for global organisations. Over the last year, the company started to run out of capacity in its network infrastructure for two reasons.

Firstly, and primarily, network bandwidth was being absorbed by business growth. Over the preceding three years, the company’s level of traffic had grown by an incredible 30 percent from 2011 to 2012, and it expected to maintain this growth. Many of its existing customers were expanding their online chat services and required a higher number of connections, while at the same time, LivePerson was signing up new customers for its successful cloud-based services.

Secondly, the company’s available network capacity was often consumed by distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Like all organisations that do business on the Internet, LivePerson was a potential target for attacks. These threats didn’t affect customer performance because the company had the excess network capacity to withstand them. However, during periods of attack, the company’s network traffic was edging closer to the maximum threshold.

LivePerson’s existing network infrastructure comprised a large number of traditional firewalls and separate load balancing solutions, none of which could be easily scaled up to meet the company’s requirements. “Our overall capacity was limited at the firewall to 5 Gb per second,” says Gonen Wilf, Head of Production at LivePerson. “We urgently needed to upgrade our network infrastructure to allow our traffic to continue to grow.”

“F5 provides us with added network capacity, improved scalability, and greater security in a single solution that is easy and cost effective to operate.” Gonen Wilf, Head of Production, LivePerson

Solution

 

LivePerson conducted extensive research and compared the features of products from many different vendors. Following thorough testing, it selected F5 and acquired four VIPRION 2400 chassis, each loaded with the F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) module on a 2100 blade. The company then installed two VIPRION devices in each of its data centres on the west and east coasts of America, in an active-active configuration.

This F5 platform supports more than 1,000 virtualized and physical servers across the two sites. At present, the company has two 2100 blades in each chassis, but it can add up to two more blades in each unit over time, as its capacity requirements grow.

The implementation was carried out with the support of F5 and Taldor, a local partner, and was highly successful. The F5 solution went live in less than a month and a half, without causing any business disruption. Over time, LivePerson intends to roll out the F5 platform to more of its data centres in other global locations.

Benefits

 

LivePerson now has ample network capacity to meet its current business requirements, plus the ability to easily expand its capacity in the future.

Each 2100 blade in a VIPRION 2400 chassis can handle up to 40 Gb per second at layer 4. Therefore, if the platform has the maximum number of blades, it can cope with a load of up to 160 Gb per second per chassis. Given that the company’s previous firewall had a maximum throughput of just 5 Gb per second, this is a tremendous increase that will allow the company to fulfill its growth ambitions.

Since the F5 platform went live, the number of connections has grown from a high point of 1.5 million connections per second to 2.1 million connections per second at peak times. In just one month (January 2013), the company connected in excess of 22 million chats on behalf of its customers. The F5 platform will comfortably scale to handle the required increase in traffic for many years to come.

With ample capacity and the subsequent deployment of BIG-IP Advanced Firewall Manager (AFM)—a stateful, full proxy network firewall— LivePerson is now better prepared to withstand DDoS attacks.

The F5 application delivery firewall solution also provides a range of added security features that help the company to strengthen its defences. These include the SYN Check feature that helps to prevent flood attacks and the Adaptive Connection Reaper feature that evacuates memory quickly, to free up more useable capacity and more DDoS mitigation features.

Many of LivePerson’s customers are in the financial services industry and, consequently, the company has to undergo extensive auditing. “We treat security as a primary part of our offering, so having a secure, robust, and high capacity device is very important to us,” says Wilf. “I can meet financial institutions that are auditing us with great confidence.”

LivePerson particularly likes the VIPRION management interface, which it believes makes the platform very easy to use.

In addition, production managers do not have to administer, support, and maintain separate firewall and load balancing devices, which saves a considerable amount of time and effort. The company also has to train only one person, in one system, to manage its network—rather than having to invest in skills in multiple firewall and load balancing solutions.

These savings in time and training help to reduce the total cost of ownership for the company’s network infrastructure.

LivePerson saves additional costs because the single F5 platform takes up less space in data centres and requires less electricity for power and cooling than the scattering of products it replaces.

Because of the modular nature of the VIPRION platform, LivePerson can also grow its capacity in a cost-effective way. “I don’t have to buy everything at once,” says Wilf. “I can add blades as the business grows.”