A load balancer, also known as a server farm or a server pool, is a method used to efficiently distribute the incoming network traffic to a group of servers. Nowadays, servers have to deal with millions of concurrent requests from users and they have to return huge loads of data including images, videos and application data in a fast and reliable way. Generally, adding more servers to the system is the most cost-effective way to scale up the meet the higher volumes of requests.
What is a load balancer used for?
The main purpose of a load balancer is to distribute the client requests and the network load efficiently to the servers those which are online-only, thus provides better availability and reliability. Also adding and subtracting servers according to the demands is an important part of load balancer’s duties. To be able to perform such tasks, load balancers should be capable of understanding if one server goes down or a new server is added to the system.
Load balancer algorithms
There are different kind of load balancing algorithms which provides different benefits to serve the specific needs:
Incoming requests are distributed among the server group sequentially.
In this method, the computing capacity of each server is calculated. So when a new request arrives, it is sent to the server with the least connections.
The server which gets the request is determined by the IP address of the client.
Load balancers are expected to handle a session persistently. That’s why most of the time user’s session information is stored locally in the browser. For example, during an online shopping application, changing servers may cause issues or even transaction failures. Thus, a client needs to be connected to the same server for the duration of the session. Servers can also store the information which is requested by the user in the cache to boost the performance.
Dynamic configuration for server groups
With dynamic configuration, in some environments users can pay only for the computing capacity that is used but at the same time, ensuring capacity scale-ups if necessary. Many applications demand new servers to be added or subtracted constantly and immediately to provide high availability and better response time. In these kinds of environments, load balancers should be able to dynamically add or subtract servers without interrupting the existing connections.
Hardware and software load balancers
There are two types of load balancers, hardware-based and software-based. Hardware-based solutions vendors load proprietary software to the machines they provide which mostly uses specialized processors. To deal with more traffic on your website, you must buy more or better machines from the vendor. Software solutions focus on making commodity hardware less expensive and more flexible. Both solutions can be installed in cloud environments.
In conclusion, with increasing online traffic of present-day, it is essential to use a load balancer to provide better performance and high availability to users. With the proper load balancing solutions
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