August 19, 2011
In the server world, an appliance is a completely enclosed turn-key unit, in which the operating system, application software and client interfaces are integrated into one easy to deploy package. Administrators don’t need to spend nearly as much time managing an appliance as they do a typical server. The hardware and software is pre-installed and configured by the manufacturer and is typically a plug and play device. Very secure, hardened appliances also require no management of security tools such as firewalls and anti-virus software. For several years, Raritan has provided its CommandCenter Secure Gateway centralized management solution in the form of an appliance. Rack mounted hardware and virtualized versions are available. The hardware (or physical) appliance is deployed as a two unit “cluster” for easy primary/secondary redundancy. When added scalability is needed, primary units can be set up in a multi-appliance “Neighborhood”.
Other solutions in the market are available simply as Windows or Linux applications and use what’s known as a “hub & spoke” configuration to enable scalability and redundancy. A hub & spoke solution consists of one primary host or “hub” server and one or more secondary “spoke” servers. Access & management application software is installed on each server in the configuration and are identified as either a hub or a spoke. Each hub & spoke server contains a database for storing user, configuration and system information. Each unit also serves as a point for authentication, user access rights, logging and licensing. One of the servers is assigned “hub” status and contains the system’s master database.