SSL VPN vendor AEP is partnering with clustering software vendor Zeus Technology to enable larger deployments of the SSL gear initially, but with aims to add load balancing and Web security later.

By year-end AEP hopes to integrate Zeus's clustering software to enable linking up to 10 AEP NSP VPN platforms together in an active-active failover configuration, says AEP's vice president of marketing Reggie Best. Such a cluster could support as many as 15,000 concurrent users, he said.

Now two NSP boxes can be tied together in an active-passive arrangement where if the active box fails the other can kick in.

With the Zeus software, if one device in a cluster fails, the remaining devices would already be running and pick up the load. The failed unit could be removed from the cluster without bringing the other NSPs down, Best says.

Sometime next year, AEP will make use of Zeus's application load-balancing software, but it is undecided what form that will take, Best said.

The software could be integrated in NSPs so the devices would terminate SSL VPN tunnels and then load balance the traffic to the servers they protect. Or the software could be incorporated in a new appliance that would sit between NSPs and server clusters, he says. "It can go in either direction," Best says.

Such separate appliances could also perform application firewalling, turning the device into an added layer of security as well as an application assurance tool. Depending on how the software is configured, the device could also enforce policy networking by assigning priorities to different applications, he says.

The licensing agreement between AEP and Zeus is in effect and the two companies are working on the integration, according to Best.