Understanding Load Balancers and How They Work
By James Cummings ; December 15th, 2017

A system's reliability is measured in uptime or the length of time a website is fully functional. High uptime figures and network reliability are essential aspects of keeping site visitors happy and boosting traffic to your website. One way to ensure reliability is having multiple redundancies that guarantees that if anything happens, the website isn't affected. The proven method to improve performance is by splitting the work evenly among servers on the network for seamless connectivity.

What is load balancing?

Load balancing improves the distribution of inbound network traffic across multiple computing resources such as network links, computer cluster, disk drives and central processing units. The goal is to optimize the use of resources, reduce response time, maximize throughput and avoid overwhelming one resource.

High traffic websites serve millions of users, sending requests for images, video, text and application data at the same time and the website must reply in a quick and reliable manner. A cost-effective method of meeting these high volume requests is to add more servers to share the workload.

How does load balancer work?

The load balancer acts as a regulator for the servers, routing requests from clients across servers that can fulfil the request in a way that maximizes capacity utilization, speed and prevent a single server from being overloaded, causes reduced performance. When one server is down, the load balancer automatically redirects traffic to other servers in the server farm and when a new server is added, it starts sending requests to it.

What are the core functions of a load balancer?

  • Share network load or client requests efficiently to multiple servers

  • Provide flexibility to subtract or add servers based on demand

  • Guarantee reliability and high availability by sending requests exclusively to online servers.

Why do I need a load balancer?

  • Your company is growing

As your company grows, the problem that lurks is network server overload. Your external clients and users rely on the applications to conduct business with you or run your business so you can't afford to deny access. You could get one of a virtual load balancer, software load balancer, freeware load balancer or dedicated hardware.

With a load balancer software, you can handle higher traffic volumes by redirecting traffic to servers with spare capacity. This feature of the load balancer is called Application Distribution Control and it's a smart way to ensure your servers experience maximum uptime that keep both staff and clients happy.

Traffic is growing but the number of network users isn't

Your investors will be happy if traffic is coming from site visitors looking to purchase more products. However, they won't be delighted if it's caused by higher internal load.

You need to run a thorough check on the server load to see what's affecting them. Servers are affected by different volumes of traffic throughout the day, which requires load balancers to ensure that when the server receives a new session, there is sufficient space to allow overloaded servers work through their backlog efficiently before returning to the resource pool for new sessions.

Ability to use software, hardware or both

You can configure load balancing with software, hardware or combine the two. The hardware is part of your network containing dedicated processors that work with proprietary software. It has a set capacity limit so as your network demands grow, you buy more.

Ensure the hard drivers of the server are live

An outstanding benefit of load balancers is that they ensure the server they're sending a client request to is active, healthy and has the capacity to handle said request. Prior to load balancers, Domain Nameservers with several A records was the go-to. Sadly, DNS didn't check the server health before sending requests and when the server's hard drive had an issue, the DNS still kept sending requests.

Distribute demands

With cloud load balancer, requests are distributed through cloud services to the server of a web hosting company like Umbrellar Cloud Backup that serve as a cloud service provider. This includes your website PaaS programs, Saas programs and incoming traffic. This way, services on your server run smoothly and web visitors will access your site in 5 seconds or less.

Minimize cost

If you use cloud load balancing, the cost is cheaper than hosting the load balancers yourself. The cloud service provider optimizes and balances their resources to manage server farms more competently.

About author

James is a business psychologist and serial entrepreneur, with over a decade working in finance, IT, marketing and recruitment sectors. He has authored numerous books in the management space and is Founder and CEO of www.dailyposts.co.uk.

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