What is load balancing? (Part 1)

28 januari, 2013

Internet is used increasingly as the primary source of information and the use of e-­commerce has grown significantly. This puts high demand on capacity, availability, scalability and performance of a website. So, how do you meet these requirements? In the first part of our series of articles about load balancing we will tell you what it is and how it can be used to meet today’s demands on websites.

Load balancing distributes the workload to create a more accessible website

Simply put, one can say that load balancing ensures that your web service is available to a greater degree. This method means that the traffic is divided between different resources.

A common solution is that one service first receives incoming traffic, then forwards the traffic to one of several backend web servers. The web server will then send the traffic further back through the service. The purpose is to load the web servers that have less of a workload, so that the traffic does not flood and create problems. The technique is called multiplexing, which means that multiple users or processes share the same resource. Round Robin DNS and NLB are alternative methods previously used, but abandoned when new technology proved to be more effective.

The importance of load balancing

It is important to meet today’s demand on websites. If a company has only one web server and it gets overloaded by traffic or suffers a failure, it might shut down. For a company with a large amount of visitors, load balancing therefore can be crucial for their business. For online stores with e-­commerce, both businesses and consumers depend on a continuously functioning communication via the website, regardless of load. A shutdown website can result in lost income, customers and a damaged reputation.

Load balancing can meet today’s demands on websites

With load balancing it is possible to meet the increasing demands on website’s capacity, availability, scalability and performance.

The benefits of load balancy are many:

● Higher availability and increased capacity

When traffic is distributed among multiple resources more visitors get access to the website simultaneously. The capacity is increased, which means that it is possible to receive a larger amount of traffic.

● Unloading of web servers and greater scalability

By having access to the capacity of multiple web servers instead of one, the servers will be relieved. It is possible to receive several requests from clients, without affecting the reliability, which means without decreasing the performance or risking a close-­down of the page.

Simplified maintenance and greater flexibility

Greater scalability also means simplified maintenance of websites. With multiple web servers, you can temporarily stop all traffic to a specific web server and send the traffic to another one instead, without visitors suffering or even noticing. Then you can do maintenance work on the specific web server or expand the operating environment.

● Proactivity and higher performance

With load balancing, you can keep track of trends, both now and in the past based on current and historical data. This makes it possible to identify potential performance problems that could slow the web servers down and instead redirect the flow of traffic without downtime.

● Higher security and backups for web applications

It is possible to secure a web application, such as an intranet, via load balancing so that a third party has access to some parts of the intranet, but not others.

Higher uptime and minimized response time

With load balancing, you can feel confident that the website is up and responding. The distribution of traffic makes the response time kept to a minimum, which is good for both your users and Google’s view of your site.

All companies carry loads -­ we are happy to help you distribute them fairly

Load balancing is a complex environment that requires extensive knowledge and puts high demands on system administrators. It is important that you feel safe about your system’s performance -­ something Tripnet is good at.

Jonas Lindqvist, System Engineer

In the second part of our series of articles about load balancing we tell you about our own load balancer and how we can help you and your company to feel safe -­ based on your specific needs. Keep your eyes open! Also read What is a DDoS attack (Part 1)
Please contact us, and we will tell you about our load balancing service.