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Load balancing is when network traffic is being equally or efficiently distributed across many backend servers. With the amount of traffic on major websites there has to be some type of management to understand and direct the millions of requests from users in regards to application data.
In order to maintain and somewhat serve this high volume content many servers are added and communicating with one other as one unit. If there was not a service to understand and route all the traffic there would be major traffic jams and bottlenecks.
In order to maximize performance and speed, the traffic is constantly manipulated and balanced to compensate for any loss in the system. Hence the word “load balance” which is efficiently managing the high volume of requests and constantly balancing this load across many server pools to create a somewhat homeostasis of efficiency.
Understanding the security of servers and a network when things are going south can be quite difficult but then adding a load balancer to the mix can be even more challenging for the support team. Hopefully, down the line server monitoring software was put into application and statistics were logged and can be retrieved if there are detrimental problems to the system.
However, load balancers nowadays are not just used for traffic management anymore but also to provide added security functions. The off loading function of load balancers are really starting to show promise when it comes to DDOS Attacks by having the ability to redirect this traffic from working servers to a cloud option.
Additionally, the newer load balancers are beginning to provide stronger analytic data that will be useful in understanding these attacks and hopefully aiding in prevention.
Load balancers typically manage traffic from HTTP, HTTPS, and TCP with application load balancers using HTTP and HTTPS while network load balancers use TCP. Understanding the different load balancing algorithms will give you a better idea how all this traffic is distributed and managed across many application servers.
Each algorithm is like the brain, having to decide which back end server will get what request based on the particular need of the network. There are different algorithms used but some of the routinely used ones are the round robin, least connection, and the source IP hash method.
Round robin is exactly what it sounds like with the load balancer sending a request to a server and then just moving onto the next until. This one is good for a system with all similar tasks.
The least connection is somewhat simple like the round robin as the balancer will send the requests to the servers with least amount of connections while assuming this is the most efficient manner.
The last one is called the IP hash method and it is a little more fickle as the load balancer will pick servers based on the IP hash of the visitors. This method is used when servers need to be used in a more formal or organized distribution pattern.
In a study done on load balancing by MIT, it was proven that by having multiple data sites across the country it was possible to redirect a request to a location where power is cheaper secondary to the cost in transit time.
All the while, using the load balancers to idle the requests at places where electricity is higher so they consume less power than under load. Understanding distances and bandwidth were key to optimizing for saving money and optimally cutting electricity costs.
Data can be large and expensive when moving around and losing or not optimizing this data can make or break companies. What would happen if a big service like Google or Microsoft 365 went down or slowed down tremendously?
Just within a couple of hours, tons of money would be lost and people would begin to think about faster or more reliable options to keep their businesses ahead of the pack. Understanding how load balancing and monitoring servers can keep your data secure while improving performance will keep your business competitive and maximize your bottom line.