Load balancing is an "old concept" that "hasn't changed much," Demorcy says, but using the global feature to quickly give people access to their email during an emergency has reinvigorated the technology. "That's the part that makes it worthwhile. The global part is where you benefit the most if you want to do DR."
Market Shift Pushes Load Balancing Into Application Delivery Controllers
The first flowering of load balancing coincided with the rapid rise of Internet properties, which found a need to distribute workloads from one Web server to another as traffic dramatically expanded. Software and appliance-based load balancers became mainstay tools for business seeking scale and high availability.
More recently, however, load balancing to some degree has been morphed into the newer technology category of application delivery controllers (ADCs). Those devices provide load balancing as part of a broader set of features that may include compression, traffic management, network and application protocol optimization and Layer 7 content switching. Secure Sockets Layer offload is generally an ADC function but can also be found in more traditional load balancers.
Heman Tailor, director of IT at SCAinteractive, a company that provides interactive promotions such as customer loyalty programs, cites the additional features as a plus. The company currently uses the Coyote Point E450GX appliance. ( Fortinet acquired Coyote Point Systems earlier this year.) The technology manages the Web server cluster in SCAinteractive's network operations center, which the company uses to run its promotions.
"Using a load balancer is very typical of running a Web cluster - or any other cluster, for that matter," Tailor says. "There are many solutions out there, but what makes it stand out is features such as hardware compression and SSL offloading, and Layer 7 routing and load balancing."
Those features, Taylor says, "reduce the load significantly on our end, along with making the management of the servers behind the clusters much easier."
As for future developments, Tailor points to the incorporation of global load balancing as most server farms add second and third sites to boost reliability.
Load Balancing's Enduring Qualities Work Well for Failover