Cloud Load Balancing Definition
Cloud load balancing is the process of distributing computing resources and workloads and in a cloud computing environment.
Like other load balancing solutions, cloud load balancing maximizes resource availability and reduces document management system costs. Cloud DNS load balancing also has advantages over traditional load balancing solutions, including ease of scaling to meet demand and, typically, lower cost.
Cloud native load balancing improves service availability and helps prevent downtimes in cloud environments.
What is Cloud Load Balancing?
Load balancing has a simple aim: prevent individual server instances from becoming overwhelmed with incoming traffic by distributing application traffic across multiple servers. A load balancer shares the load from user traffic across multiple instances of applications to reduce the risk that they will experience performance issues.
Cloud load balancing allocates compute resources and workloads evenly in a cloud environment to ensure that cloud applications achieve greater reliability and efficiency. Enterprises use cloud load balancing to host distributed resources between several application servers, computers, or networks in order to manage client requests effectively.
Cloud load balancing providers optimize available compute resources for an organization while reducing application response time for users as much as possible. In this basic goal, cloud and hybrid cloud load balancing have been very successful.
The more recent cloud era has prompted the evolution of cloud load balancers and cloud load balancing solutions, however. They still play a critical part in application high availability, but cloud based load balancers do much more.
Cloud load balancing solutions may:
- Automate application rollout
- Help protect mission-critical applications from security vulnerabilities
- Integrate with CI/CD processes
- Lend visibility into application and network health
- Move workloads across public clouds
- Offer granular insights into end-user experience
- Provide elastic scale based on application loads
What is Cloud Load Balancing as a Service (LBaaS)?
Many cloud providers rent load balancing services to customers on an as-needed basis in a process called load balancing-as-a-service (LBaaS). This often takes the place of dedicated on-premise appliances for traffic routing and the need to configure and maintain them in-house, although LBaaS can also use on-premise servers to balance workloads.
LBaaS operates much like traditional load balancing. However, rather than in-house traffic distribution across a cluster of servers in one data center, LBaaS is managed as an on-demand or subscription service in a cloud environment and balances workloads across servers there. Some LBaaS environments are managed by a single cloud vendor, in contrast to hybrid cloud load balancers and multi-cloud balancers that distribute traffic between multiple cloud providers.
There are several benefits to load balancing-as-a-service:
- Scalability: LBaaS enables users to scale cloud load balancing services easily and rapidly to accommodate spikes in traffic with no need to manually configure additional physical load balancing infrastructure.
- Reduced costs: Compared to hardware appliances, LBaaS is usually less costly and demands less effort, time, and internal resources to maintain.
- Availability: Users can guarantee high availability and minimize latency even when a server is down by connecting to the server that is geographically closest.
Cloud Load Balancing Techniques
Cloud server load balancing accelerates performance, maintains application resilience, and guards services and applications in the cloud from unprecedented failures. Here is a closer look at some of the features of cloud load balancing algorithms and how they are used.
Cloud load balancing solutions can help users autoscale applications and manage fluctuations in the workload efficiently. As server and cloud application requests decrease, so does resource consumption, and the cloud load balancer achieves its cost-savings goal.
To achieve this, cloud service providers must define an autoscaling policy at the time of set up, so the cloud DNS load balancer allows the auto scaler to react and scale to the detected load.
Support for Multiple Protocols
Cloud load balancing software supports many protocols, including TCP, HTTP/2, and UDP load balancing, because it is specifically curated to serve cloud applications.
Active Health Checks
Cloud DNS load balancers automatically monitor the health of the upstream servers by performing periodic health checks. The cloud load balancer sends specific health check requests and verifies a response for every server in the cloud application. These checks ensure healthy backends for when new connection requests come to the cloud application.
Cloud load balancing services ensure even workload distribution in real time, regardless of the traffic or number of requests on the cloud application.
Benefits of Load Balancing in the Cloud
Any organization that offers a range of cloud infrastructures and services hoping to scale needs a cloud load balancing solution to meet more global customer requests. And even without plans for supplementing cloud infrastructure or additional cloud services, workload can increase suddenly at any time. If it does, the cloud application relies on a cloud DNS load balancer to respond to server requests in a timely way.
But when it comes to cloud computing environments, managing network traffic is just part of what software-defined load balancers can do. Here are some of the biggest benefits of using a cloud load balancer.
Cloud load balancing enables businesses to use predictive analytic tools to identify traffic bottlenecks well in advance. This in turn empowers companies to fuel their decisions with actionable applications insights in near real-time—a process which is critical for automation.
High Performance Applications
More traffic shouldn’t mean poor performance; with the right cloud load balancer service, it won’t. Load balancers maintain performance by distributing the workload at all times.
Seamless Management of Traffic Surges
Single servers can become overburdened by requests during times when cloud-based services have massive workloads to manage. These times are ideal for cloud server load balancing software, which ensures quick response times and high levels of service availability seamlessly in cloud computing environments—and faster than a team of IT professionals trained to counter traffic surges could.
Because cloud load balancers route and distribute traffic evenly among multiple units and servers in the network, even if one node in a chain can’t handle the workload, another active node can handle the load immediately. In other words, cloud load balancing architecture is inherently flexible.
Reliability and Scalability
Cloud infrastructures are built to ensure scalability. Cloud computing environments can immediately scale up whenever high volumes of website or application traffic occur, but this scaling comes with a downside.
As a cloud environment automatically scales up, it will simultaneously run many application instances and spin up several virtual servers. But these new servers cannot receive traffic surges in an organized, categorical, coordinated fashion. Instead, some virtual servers may be overcome with requests, while others have little to no traffic.
Cloud load balancers easily distribute traffic surges seamlessly between application instances and newly spun servers, serving as a key cloud network component. Cloud load balancer services efficiently redirect traffic when a cloud service or resource crashes, shifting the workload within the cloud environment to another resource.
The ability to skip housing, configuring, and maintaining load balancing architecture in-house means better cloud service performance at a significantly lower price. Startups, small businesses, and medium-sized enterprises can use cloud load balancers and services run on the cloud.
Emergency API Management
Cloud-based service providers are capable of identifying which servers are unavailable and redirecting traffic and requests in real-time. Many cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform even stretch across multiple geographical regions.
This is particularly relevant during times of natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods or other emergencies afflicting particular geographical areas. These kinds of issues often result in inoperational cloud servers, which cloud server load balancers can react to by redirecting traffic to unaffected geographical locations.
Why is Cloud Load Balancing Important?
Cloud load balancing is an essential service for cloud-hosted applications. Overwhelmed servers can fail, causing substantial latency and possible outages for users. This is true for individual servers in a data center and for servers running in the cloud.
But understanding the importance of cloud load balancing solutions comes down to the differences between hardware vs. software load balancing in the cloud generally. Hardware load balancing appliances face disadvantages in the cloud.
Traditional network load balancing solutions are often prohibited from running in vendor-managed cloud environments, and when they’re not, they tend to manage cloud traffic inefficiently. They demand a sophisticated IT team to implement, tune, and maintain, so only larger businesses actually see the improved reliability and high performance benefits from hardware-based load balancing.
In contrast, software-based load balancers are designed and built to run in any location or environment, which is why they are optimal for cloud infrastructure and applications. They are affordable even for smaller companies because they run on commodity hardware, and in the cloud like any other software application.
Does VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer Offer a Cloud Load Balancer Service?
The VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer delivers the best of both worlds: complete enterprise features and cloud native automation and elasticity that works consistently in on-prem, private cloud, or public cloud. The platform offers intelligent web application firewall (WAF), full-featured L4 – L7 load balancing, customizable health monitoring, advanced HTTP content switching capabilities, DNS/IPAM services, and GSLB across multiple clouds. The VMware NSX Advanced Load Balancer manages, orchestrates and secures traffic to applications with consistent policies across clouds dynamically from a single, integrated platform based on business metrics such as security, performance, cost, and compliance requirements.
Find out more about how easy it is to provide flexibility and reduce risk with Advanced NSX Load Balancer’s enterprise grade cloud load balancing solution.
For more on the actual implementation of load balancers, check out our Application Delivery How-To Videos.