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The Importance of Load Balancing


Business can use range of specific load balancing technologies. They promise scalability, optimise service reliability and availability and increase overall manageability.

Adrian Taylor, Regional VP of Sales, EMEA, A10 Networks

At certain times in a year, IT teams in sectors like retail, airlines etc. prepare their systems for surges in traffic, maximising resiliency to ensure uptime and profitability.

One key way of doing this is through load balancing, a methodology or algorithm that spreads network traffic, computing workloads or other service requests over a group of resources or services. Incoming traffic is distributed using various algorithms to balance the overall workload and improve customer experience.

Simply, load balancing provides scalability, optimises service reliability and availability and increases overall manageability. Services are load balanced based on algorithms like round robin, least connections, and fastest response.

There are a range of specific load balancing technologies that businesses can use.

Server Load Balancing
A server load balancer is a hardware or virtual software appliance that distributes the application workload across an array of servers, ensuring application availability, elastic scale-out of server resources and supporting health management of back-end server and application systems.

Firewall Load Balancing
This load balancing method uses an array of security firewall systems to provide the ability to scale complex network devices and guarantee non-stop operation. Solid firewall infrastructure is a cornerstone of network security, but best-of-breed solutions cannot be optimised without adequate firewall load balancing. A highly available firewall is crucial in protecting the network and ensuring business continuity, network architectures should always include a load balancing solution that guarantees high availability for firewall defences and can easily scale out.

DNS Server Load Balancing
Domain Name System (DNS) servers are often used in large infrastructures or mission critical infrastructures, and they generally deploy DNS services across a cluster of servers. This cluster of DNS servers typically operates behind a server load balancing system, which allows the infrastructure to overcome the shortcomings in the standard DNS failover mechanism and greatly increase performance.

Global Server Load Balancing
Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB) is a technology which directs network traffic to a group of data centres in various geographical locations. Each data centre provides similar application services, and client traffic is directed to the optimal site with the best performance for each client. GSLB monitors the health and responsiveness of each site, and like server load balancing, directs traffic to the site with the best response times.

Application Delivery Controllers
Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs) are network servers providing application reliability, acceleration, and application server services. Application Delivery Controllers include server load balancing with additional technologies including SSL offloading, security firewall services, application firewall systems, DDoS protection, service chaining and others to deliver optimal resiliency and uptime.

Each method of load balancing provides its own benefits for businesses depending on the size of the organisation, budgets, in-house capabilities, and typical traffic flow, but the importance of these technologies cannot be understated.

With e-commerce transactions spiking at certain times in a year, the consequences of either a successful attack or unplanned downtime, or the inability to manage network traffic in the current volatile environment, could be the difference between surviving and ceasing trading.

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