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Here in the "Learn More" section, you will find up-to-date articles about some of the technology concepts behind the equipment and services we sell. Click on an article to read more.

NOTE: Expert BIGIP and 3DNS Consulting from Tractionet is now available! Please Click here to contact us to discuss your BIG-IP consulting needs!


Quick Reference Glossary

Load Balancing
Server
SLB Terminology

The Low-down on Load Balancing

What is load balancing?

Load balancing, in its simplest terms, is a way to divide the work a server has to do between two or more servers. If your business operates its own web site, for example, you may benefit financially and structurally from having more than one middle-grade server, as opposed to one high-end server to handle all requests.

A good analogy I once heard was that load balancers work like checkout lines in a store. Just as customers automatically go to the checkout line with the least number of people waiting, visitors to your site should automatically go to the least burdened server.

Load Balancing diagram

With a single server (or checkout line), visitors have to wait in line until everyone before them gets served. There are several potential problems with this structure. Firstly, what happens if the checker goes on break or has a heart attack? Secondly, there is a limited number of improvements you can make to the checkout line before you simply can do no more. By distributing traffic across multiple servers, however, you allow people to get served faster, and if Joe server has to leave for lunch, the folks in Joe's line disperse among the remaining open servers.

There are several different kinds of load-balancing methods out there, each with strengths and weaknesses. Some methods rely on the Domain Name Server (DNS) to consult a list of servers for a particular IP and farm out visitors to the next server on the list, returning to the first server on the list when it reaches the end. Some methods handle the dispersion of visitor requests server-side by a ?dispatcher? that determines which server should handle each request based on a variety of factors.

Why use load balancing?

Save on costs: Rather than purchasing the biggest, fastest, most resilient and expensive server you can find, you can invest the same amount into several middle-grade servers that have greater combined power.

Redundancy: By only having a single server applied to your server requests, there is a single point of error. If the hard drive fails or you need to upgrade, you will of necessity need to shut down the server. By load-balancing across multiple servers, each with the same information, the failure of one will not put your site out of commission. In addition, with most load balancing systems, you can upgrade without taking the system down.

Expansion: By load balancing, you have the ability to expand your server cluster indefinitely. In contrast, there is only so much you can upgrade on a single server before your reach the limits.

I think I need a load balancing solution, can you help?

Yes! Not only do we offer fairly-priced quality equipment, our staff is highly trained in implementing load balancing solutions. Give us a call or use our online contact form and we would be glad to offer a solution.

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