Load balancing? Say what?! Got 2 mins to get your head around the concept? Your time starts....now!
What is load balancing?
Load balancing is a core network and IT solution that ensures business continuity by delivering high availability. It's essentially software that sits in a network, between client devices and backend servers, in order to intelligently divert network traffic amongst the available servers.
So if a server fails, or is compromised, it will immediately spot the issue and reroute traffic away from that failed server to another, keeping everything ticking along as it should.
Load balancing, therefore, improves an application's resource availability and performance by providing a failsafe against a number of different scenarios that could result in downtime e.g.
- Server failure
- Security threats
- Server maintenance
Crucially, it also provides an extra layer of security, examining the requests received and checking the health of existing servers to prevent them from becoming overloaded.
While downtime was accepted to a degree a decade (or even a few years) ago, modern businesses and end users expect an uninterrupted user experience and flow of data. For this reason, investing in good network infrastructure and load balancers is paramount to achieving high availability, and therefore ensuring business continuity.
Why is a load balancer so important?
The bottom line is that a world without load balancers would result in total chaos, caused by application downtime. If a server goes down, this can slow down applications or even take them offline completely. This, in turn, makes that application unusable or inaccessible to the end user. Sure, not a big deal for applications that aren't critical. But for applications that are critical (such as medical imaging applications that are the cornerstone of timely, quality patient care provision) then it really IS a game-changer.
Ever been frustrated because your banking app froze mid-transaction? Ever tried to book a doctor's appointment online but couldn't access the site? In a world WITHOUT load balancers, this stuff would happen all day, every day. In a world WITH load balancers, tech simply works as it should, averting disaster.
Ready to start load balancing?
The primary question to consider is: are you looking for increased performance, reliability, ease of maintenance, or all three?
- Performance: A load balancer can increase performance by allowing you to utilize several commodity servers to handle the workload of one application.
- Reliability: Running an application on one server gives you a single point of failure. Utilizing a load balancer moves the point of failure to the load balancer. At Loadbalancer.org we always advise that you deploy load balancers as clustered pairs to remove this single point of failure.
- Maintenance - Using the appliance, you can easily bring servers on and offline to perform maintenance tasks, without disrupting your users.
So, if you need high-performing, reliable appliances, with zero downtime, then you may want to explore your options. If server downtime has zero impact on your business, then feel free to file this blog away in a drawer of other useless information.
Time's up. How did I do?!
If you're still foxed, or unsure whether or not you might need a load balancer, feel free to reach out. There's some really cool tech that sits behind this. But that's a story for another day.