Most developers can intuitively understand the basic concept of load balancers and why they're useful just from the name. Nobody expects a car engine to run on just one cylinder and to stand up for a long time you need to balance the load of your weight on both feet.
However, the practical application of load balancers is much more complicated.
What is a load balancer?
According to f5's defintion, a load balancer is "a device that acts as a reverse proxy and distributes network or application traffic across a number of servers. Load balancers are used to increase capacity and reliability of applications." They help utilize only the servers that are actively running and ready to receive requests by using a configured algorithm. Here are 7 more benefits of load balancers and what they can do.
1. Get 100% uptime for your network.
To get 100% uptime for your network, you need load balancers or an Application Delivery Controller (ADC). If you send all traffic through just one server, over time that will degrade its performance. And you can maximize performance by using as many servers as necessary, all running concurrently. ADCs perform many network services, including server load balancing.
ADCs present the same virtual server address to everybody outside the business's network.
2. Use hardware, software, or both.
You can set up load balancing with hardware or software, or both working in combination. The hardware consists of specialized processors that run with proprietary software. The hardware is part of your network. This equipment has its own capacity limits, so if your network demands grow, especially your website's traffic, you need to buy more.
If you traffic spikes before you're ready to handle it, you disappoint your prospects and would-be visitors.
3. Handle lots of traffic.
Load balancing is essential for websites that get lots of traffic. You can run a personal blog, a small business site or even a busy and profitable business site through an ordinary web hosting service. However, sites such as Amazon and Google need thousands of separate servers in server farms around the world. They must respond to millions of web requests from users all at the same time.
Your business will need load balancing to handle traffic as it grows.
4. Ensure server hard drives are active.
The major benefit of load balancers is that before they send someone to a particular server, they make sure it's healthy, active, and ready to handle the request.
Before load balancers, networks used Domain Name Servers with multiple A records. However the DNS did not check on the health of the server before sending someone there. If the server's hard drive failed, the DNS would still send people there anyway, resulting in error and poor user experience, and that wasn't good.
5. The more the better.
You want at least two load balancers in a clustered pair. If you have only one load balancer, and it fails, your entire system is in trouble. This is known as a single point of failure (SPOF). Having three load balancers is better than two, and five or more is better than three. It really depends on how important high availability is to you, and how much traffic you need to handle.
This applies to hardware load balancers as well as software based load balancers.
6. Distribute your demands.
Cloud load balancers distribute your demands to use cloud services to the cloud service provider's servers. This includes traffic to your website, the PaaS programs your business runs, and the SaaS programs running on top of them.
Also, by speeding up throughput, via optimizations, and sometimes caching, it enables all of your programs and services to run as quickly as possible. That's especially important for your website traffic. If visitors to your website have to wait more than a few seconds for it to load, they get impatient and leave.
7. Keep costs low.
Cloud load balancing uses the cloud's scalability to keep costs lower than load balancers hosted by the client business itself. By balancing and optimizing how you use their resources, the cloud service provider manages their server farms more efficiently. In the long run that saves you money. Also, cloud load balancing performs health checks on cloud applications.
With cloud load balancing you can choose between HTTP, TCP and HTTPS load balancing. And your configuration is portable between cloud service providers.
ContainerShip's provider-agnostic load balancing works on any of the supported providers, and will offer everything you need in regards to load balancers, containers and how you can use cloud services to run your business more efficiently and less expensively than buying your own hardware.