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Hardware

What Is Load Balancing?

If you’re hosting a website on the internet, you’d probably already know this – you need a quality server to manage your web hosting and achieve optimal productivity. 

But merely getting a quality server to host your website on isn’t enough, you’d also have to ensure that your server has enough resources to manage the bulk of activities and data or traffic inflow as they come.

Sometimes, as your website experiences a massive increase in the number of visitors per time, your server can no longer keep up with managing such a huge traffic influx and can start to malfunction as a result. To solve this problem, web hosts usually get another server to reduce the load on the first one. 

Load balancing refers to all the activities involved in sharing the load between two servers so that no one is significantly more burdened than the other. It’s reducing the burden on one server by transferring some load on a less-burdened server. In simpler terms, load balancing works like an impartial and fair taskmaster, sharing workload among two servers equally.

Load Balancing Techniques

The load balancing technology used in distributing client access requests to different servers in the server farm usually depends on a lot of factors like the network status, service type, or application type. The load balancing technology also makes use of algorithms in carrying out its load balancing tasks. 

Let’s discuss some of the most common load balancing technology in use currently: 

  • Least Connection Load Balancing:  

When assigning extra tasks, it’s logical to give more to persons who have little work to do. This is what the least Connection does. It directs clients’ requests to servers with the least amount of active connections.

  • Round Robin: 

The round-robin uses rotational technology to distribute loads among various application servers, especially when the servers have similar capabilities. The first client requests go to the first server, the second request goes to the second, and so on. 

When requests are distributed in that manner across to all the available application servers, it resumes rotation from the first server.

  • Least Bandwidth: 

This load balancing technology assigns client requests to servers with the least traffic inflow.

  • Least Response Time: 

This technique directs clients’ requests to servers having the lowest response time, usually as a result of their having the least connections.

  • Source IP Hash: 

This method uses a unique hash key developed by a combination of server and client IP addresses to direct clients’ requests to different servers.

  • URL Hash: 

This method balances the load by distributing writes among various websites while sending all reads to the site that owns the object.

What Load Balancer Types Exist? 

Load balancers are categorized based on functionality, availability, the forms they take, etc. Generally, balancers can be classified under hardware balancers, software balancers, and virtual balancers.  In terms of Cloud-based server availability, they can be grouped into network load balancers, internal load balancers, and HTTP(S) load balancers: 

  1. Hardware load balancers. These balancers are physical balancers (hardware) that distribute traffic among servers. They’re known for being able to handle large traffic influx but they can be expensive and don’t offer much in scalability and flexibility.
  2. Software Balancers. These balancers are installed as software. They’re less expensive than their hardware counterparts and could be either commercial or open-source.
  3. Virtual Balancers. Virtual Balancers are quite similar to software Balancers because they’re not physical in form. The difference lies in the fact that virtual balancers while not being software themselves, use the software in a hardware balancing device on a virtual machine. 
  4. Network Load Balancers. These load balancers take advantage of the layer 4 load balancing technology to gain information on the network layer to decide how to distribute traffic. It’s considered the fastest method of load balancing.
  5. Internal Load Balancing. This method is a private load balancing service for certain traffic types. It’s similar to the network load balancing system but unlike network load balancing, it can be used to balance internal infrastructure too. 
  6. HTTP(S) Load Balancing. This balancing method operates in the application layer using layer 7 technology. As one of the oldest balancing types available, it’s quite flexible, giving you the choice on how to distribute the load based on the information gotten from HTTP(S) addresses.

Load Balancer Monitoring Tools

There are so many load balancer monitoring tools available today, making the processes of deciding which software to use a very difficult one. It’s however, a decision-making process you have to pay maximum attention to if efficiency and productivity are your end goal.

We have simplified this process for you by listing some of the best load balancer monitoring tools available. They’re our absolute favorites and depending on your priorities and needs, you’d get the best in functionality from them: 

  • SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor: 

This monitoring tool has the AppInsight™ application to help you monitor IIS (Internet Information Services) and generally helps you monitor applications and all supporting infrastructures. The monitor offers a 30-day free trial service to get you acquainted with its features before you finally decide to use it.

  • SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor:  

This network performance monitor is perfect for system administrators who prioritize analytics and real-time network information. It’s also perfect for troubleshooting and allows you to detect load balancing issues on time. 

Like the SolarWinds Server and Application Monitor, it also offers its users a 30-day free trial.

  • Paessler PRTG monitor: 

This tool managed and monitors your IT infrastructures to detect problems early enough and can also be used as a data Collection tool while helping you manage traffic and monitor Bandwidths for optimal productivity.

Conclusion

Load Balancing is an important part of server management that should never be overlooked. Stay ahead of your game and improve your server efficiency today by choosing a quality monitoring tool to manage your load balancing activities.

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