Load balancing is a method whereby network traffic is distributed equally across multiple servers to support an increase in simultaneous requests and avoid overloading a single server. This helps in ensuring responsiveness for your application/website is maintained during peak usage.
How is load balancing applied?
Load balancers work by distributing the request evenly across multiple servers hosting the same data. When one server goes down, traffic will be directed to the remaining servers ensuring no downtime is experienced by your users.
Benefits of load balancing
- scalability: can handle a surge in user requests graciously as the increased load is distributed among multiple servers.
- availability: since the load is shared between different servers, when one server is down for maintenance, the remaining servers will handle the requests therefore ensuring continuity as opposed to when using a single server whereby when the server is down for maintenance, then your application will be inaccessible for the duration of the maintenance window.
- performance: through the use of load balancers, applications response time is improved through reduced latency, and distribution of the load evenly between servers. Users are also redirected to a server that is close to their geographic location.
- security: by distributing the load, load balancers are effective in combating DDOS attacks which target a server by bombarding it with automated multiple simultaneous request thereby causing it to overload and render it unusable. Load balancer can also be used to monitor incoming traffic and block those that are deemed to be malicious.
Types of load balancing
- cloud load balancing: distributes workloads and resources in a cloud environment. This is favourable as it can help lower data centre costs for organisations while achieving high performance.
- router load balancing: especially useful in an organisational set up where employees are accessing the same applications and resources. Router load balancing works by routing traffic across broadband connections.
- application load balancer: as the name suggests, application load balancing routes traffic to applications hosted on the cloud. Server overload is also mitigated by distributing the load across different servers thereby improving user experience, security, responsiveness and availability.