Load balancing solves one of the biggest problems for websites and applications: how to handle requests from large numbers of users. Guaranteeing availability through solutions that optimize consumption improves the user experience and ensures access speed, which is essential for business. In this post, you will learn about different load balancing techniques, why load balancing is important to solve your traffic problems and how you can obtain its benefits.
What Is Load Balancing?
Load balancing enables network distribution and application traffic across multiple servers. Imagine that a server is a telephone operator for your company that has the capacity to answer 20 calls a day. What if 1000 calls came in? The telephone operator would find it impossible to handle this level of workload, and customers would be left dissatisfied. Communication between users and applications works more or less like this.
Load balancing techniques are responsible for directing application and network traffic within a group of servers in order to prevent a server from being overloaded and improve the availability and responsiveness of the application.
A load balancer directs client requests to the server with the highest capacity to meet demand, allowing for increased speed and preventing server overload. When a server goes down, the load balancer will automatically send the traffic to other servers. The loads are divided into predefined metrics, such as geographic location. This ensures that users will be directed to servers close to them.
The way load balancers operate is by using an algorithm that determines which backend servers the load balancer will select. The most common algorithms are round robin, least connections, and IP hash, which work as follows:
Round Robin: Requests are distributed to servers sequentially. Here you make sure that every server in your system has received a request in a fair and equitable fashion.
Least connections: A minimum connections algorithm keeps track of the number of connections that each server currently maintains, its computing capacity, and always forwards new requests to the one most available to handle the request at the time.
IP Hash: Focuses on persistence, one of the key issues in load balancing. With other schemes, it is possible that long sessions are split among origin servers, making it difficult to do advanced traffic flows that require keeping a session locked to an origin. The client's IP address is useful in determining which server is receiving the request. It creates a unique hash key that you can regenerate and read in the future, so that if a user suspends a session, they can pick up where they left off later. This can also be used to ensure that requests are directed based on the region of the IP address.
Load Balancing and High Availability
There are several concepts associated with load balancing. One of them is high availability. When we speak of high availability, we refer to the ability of a system to instantly redirect requests to a backup system in case of failures.
On the other hand, load balancing refers to a process that consists of distributing a system among several machines. Here, the goal is to make a system more scalable through the use of several servers. In other words, high availability is a feature, and load balancing is a process. Having high availability means that if one component of a system fails, it won't bring the entire system down with it. It is a way of measuring, in time, if a system works optimally.
Load Balancing and Failover
Another related concept that also helps the load balancing process is failover. This term is synonymous with fault tolerance. It means that when a system, server or other software or hardware component is not available, a secondary component will take over operations, so that services are not interrupted. Today, high availability systems are built with redundant equipment and applications to ensure your services are uninterrupted. This means that they are fail-safe.
In load balancing, failover is responsible for activating a fault tolerance technique in case something is not working on your instance or main server when load balancing your website or applications.
How Does Load balancing Help Business?
Currently, load balancing is a critical issue for companies dealing with high traffic spikes. In times of high sales demand, such as Black Friday or Christmas, organizations must ensure that all customer requests can be met on their websites or applications. As already mentioned, load balancing is a solution specially designed for times of peak access. And, in the absence of this, companies could have thousands of dollars of economic losses.
According to Aberdeen Research, the average cost of an unplanned network outage for organizations is $260,000 per hour. That translates to $4,333 per minute. In addition to this, there are other important consequences, such as the loss of your brand's reputation, the reduction of your conversions, shopping cart abandonment or decreased customer loyalty.
Therefore, it is necessary to have a load balancing solution, since it allows you to obtain benefits such as:
- High Availability: guarantees total and permanent availability to web or online services, which means that in the event of an unforeseen event, your services will continue to function.
- Scalability: provides the ability to adapt and respond to the performance of your system, as the number of users increases significantly.
- Security and Reliability: ensure the proper functioning of your website or applications and avoid user abandonment.
- Fast Fault Detection: monitor the status of your load and resolve errors as soon as they are detected.
Today, companies like Azion offer Load Balancer solutions, which will allow you to optimize your company’s traffic distribution on important sales days.
Azion Load Balancer
Azion Load Balancer is a solution that allows you to balance the traffic for your origins, data center or cloud providers and avoid network congestion, as well as server overload. In addition, it guarantees the availability of your content, even in the event of incidents with your origin servers.
One of the advantages of our load balancer is that it is software-based. This enables greater flexibility, scalability, and cost effectiveness, and can be tailored to the needs of your business.
Another of its unique features is that Azion Load Balancer is an intelligent Layer 7 load balancing technology, designed to handle the high demands of multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments.
Some of the benefits that you will get with this solution are:
- distributing traffic through your origin servers;
- ensuring the availability of your content and applications;
- a variety of algorithms such as round-robin, IP hash, and least connections;
- content-based routing rules that intelligently balance HTTP and HTTPS requests;
- maintaining control and consistency of difficult sessions by balancing multiple levels; and
- reducing the complexity of maintaining your own load balancer.