Computer networks today are being inundated with more traffic and codes than ever before. Some companies have been enlisting the help of a load balancer, which works to monitor and distribute the workload evenly across two or more computers, hard drives, network links or CPUs. The end result is greater efficiency, increased resource utilization and maximized production.
A load balancer can come in two forms – a software application or a hardware device – and each balances and manages the traffic that travels across the servers to ensure that connections to the servers are evenly distributed. Load balancers offer a variety of benefits including a high level of availability and performance on mission critical applications.
In some cases, traffic balancing is handled through a process called “round robin DNS” in which information comes in on the servers and is quickly distributed to the next server on the list. According to some, this process can sometimes prove troublesome as the DNS server can forward the request to the next server in the list without taking into account how much traffic that server is already handling and if that server is currently down. Yet some companies offer DNS products that address these concerns and recognize when a server is down.
A load balancer appliance can manage the servers as a single logical or virtual cluster. Some load balancers are built to offer a combination of traffic management features for load balancing, application acceleration, high availability, HTTP Web compression, SSL offload & acceleration, Global Server Load Balancing, fault tolerance, disaster recovery, virtualization and clustering.
Load balancing technologies have also become proven solutions for companies that wish to supplant their web and application performance and availability without purchasing additional servers.
While the benefits of purchasing a load balancer may be well understood, there exists some confusion as to how to deploy a load balancer. The process is not as time-consuming or complicated as one may think, as some company’s offer a “drop-in” strategy, in which the load balancer is integrated into the existing Web server infrastructure with minimal configuration changes.
In these instances, the servers remain accessible in the same way they were before a load balancer was implemented.
Carrie Schmelkin is a Web Editor for TMCnet. Previously, she worked as Assistant Editor at the New Canaan Advertiser, a 102-year-old weekly newspaper, covering news and enhancing the publication's social media initiatives. Carrie holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in English from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves