Load Balancing Definition

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What is Load Balancing? Load Balancing Definition Explained

What is load balancing? A load balancer is a piece of hardware (or virtual hardware) that acts like a reverse proxy to distribute network and/or application traffic across different servers. A load balancer is used to improve the concurrent user capacity and overall reliability of applications. A load balancer helps to improve these by distributing the workload across multiple servers, decreasing the overall burden placed on each server.

Physical load balancing appliances are similar in appearance to routers. They are connected to your network infrastructure in the same manner as a router or another server. In contrast, virtual load balancing hardware is a program that emulates the addition of a new hardware solution. These virtual load balancers work in a manner similar to a virtual server or a virtual computer on your network. They act as a physical load balancer and distribute requests accordingly, saving you space and offering greater flexibility than many hardware balancers.

How It Works

In the past, organizational leaders and administrators relied on domain name service (DNS) redirection to manage the flow of traffic. Because today's users routinely issue multiple DNS requests, managing requests through DNS redirection can quickly become overwhelming for a network. To deal with these challenges, IT innovators have developed load balancing solutions that offer enhanced control over traffic routing, security, and many other mission-critical processes.

Solution Features & Benefits

Depending on your organizational needs - such as network workload and strain on your IT infrastructure – your  solution should account for a wide range of vital processes. From protecting against threats to increasing response time, additional functions of an effective suite include:

  • Traffic Management: An agile solution handles both inbound and outbound requests. Whether connecting to the Internet or your organization's intranet, it's vital that the workload is distributed between servers that are prepared to balance user traffic.
  • Security: When facing distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks, unwanted visitors, or other elements that compromise networks – balancing load appliances can be invaluable. Gain an industry advantage with firewalls, VPN solutions, and other  features.
  • Connectivity: Sprawled IT architectures and data centers in multiple locations make fragmented networks more common than ever. This can lead to a variety of problems, including limited communication between your server farms. Global solutions should account for all IP traffic so user requests are sent to the proper location.

Balancing load is critical for many internet applications. This Mashable post from the Gmail Outage of 2009 explains how failure brought the massively popular email interface down.

Choosing Your Solution

So what is load balancing to your organization? Depending on hardware and organizational needs, it's important to speak with a reputable provider about implementing and customizing this solution to your needs. Each network faces different challenges and works within different constraints. Radware can work with you to find a solution that fits your specific needs.

Balancing load can be done through hardware, virtual appliances, or by installing software – so it's important to weight the advantages of each before committing. Radware’s Alteon load balancer provides flexible solutions that can be customized to meet the unique needs of your environment - view more information, or call us today to talk about your specific situation.