IT industry is growing each day and so is the need for computing and storage resources. Large quantities of data are generated and exchanged over the network which further necessitates the need of more and more computing resources. Organizations, to better capitalize their investment, are opening their infrastructure to new found virtualization technologies like Cloud computing.
Cloud has helped enterprises leverage the benefits of computing resources which are shared over a virtualized environment. A lot of enterprises are already using cloud-based services in one or the other form. This brings us to the concept of load balancing in cloud.
What is load balancing in Cloud computing?
A website or a web-application can be accessed by a plenty of users at any point of time. It becomes difficult for a web application to manage all these user requests at one time. It may even result in system breakdowns. For a website owner, whose entire work is dependent on his portal, the sinking feeling of website being down or not accessible also brings lost potential customers.
Here, the load balancer plays an important role.
Cloud Load balancing is the process of distributing workloads and computing resources across one or more servers. This kind of distribution ensures maximum throughput in minimum response time. The workload is segregated among two or more servers, hard drives, network interfaces or other computing resources, enabling better resource utilization and system response time. Thus, for a high traffic website, effective use of cloud load balancing can ensure business continuity. The common objectives of using load balancers are:
- To maintain system firmness.
- To improve system performance.
- To protect against system failures.
Cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google offer cloud load balancing to facilitate easy distribution of workloads. For ex: AWS offers Elastic Load balancing (ELB) technology to distribute traffic among EC2 instances. Most of the AWS powered applications have ELBs installed as key architectural component.
Similarly, Azure’s Traffic Manager allocates its cloud servers’ traffic across multiple datacenters.
How does load balancing work?
Here, load refers to not only the website traffic but also includes CPU load, network load and memory capacity of each server. A load balancing technique makes sure that each system in the network has same amount of work at any instant of time. This means neither any of them is excessively over-loaded, nor under-utilized.
The load balancer distributes data depending upon how busy each server or node is. In the absence of a load balancer, the client must wait while his process gets processed, which might be too tiring and demotivating for him.
Various information like jobs waiting in queue, CPU processing rate, job arrival rate etc. are exchanged between the processors during the load balancing process. Failure in the right application of load balancers can lead to serious consequences, data getting lost being one of them.
Different companies may use different load balancers and multiple load balancing algorithms like static and dynamic load balancing. One of the most commonly used methods is Round-robin load balancing.
It forwards client request to each connected server in turn. On reaching the end, the load balancer loops back and repeats the list again. The major benefit is its ease of implementation. The load balancers check the system heartbeats during set time intervals to verify whether each node is performing well or not.
What are the advantages of Cloud Load Balancing?
a) High Performing applications
Cloud load balancing techniques, unlike their traditional on-premise counterparts, are less expensive and simple to implement. Enterprises can make their client applications work faster and deliver better performances, that too at potentially lower costs.
b) Increased scalability
Cloud balancing takes help of cloud’s scalability and agility to maintain website traffic. By using efficient load balancers, you can easily match up the increased user traffic and distribute it among various servers or network devices. It is especially important for ecommerce websites, who deals with thousands of website visitors every second. During sale or other promotional offers they need such effective load balancers to distribute workloads.
c) Ability to handle sudden traffic spikes
A normally running University site can completely go down during any result declaration. This is because too many requests can arrive at the same time. If they are using cloud load balancers, they do not need to worry about such traffic surges. No matter how large the request is, it can be wisely distributed among different servers for generating maximum results in less response time.
d) Business continuity with complete flexibility
The basic objective of using a load balancer is to save or protect a website from sudden outages. When the workload is distributed among various servers or network units, even if one node fails the burden can be shifted to another active node.
Thus, with increased redundancy, scalability and other features load balancing easily handles website or application traffic.
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