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What is Load Balancing?

March 31, 2021
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Tanya Valdez is a Technical Writer at Constellix. She makes the information-transfer material digestible through her own transfer of information to our customers and readers. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Whether you’ve been to a carnival or not, you’ve seen clowns walking across a tightrope with a balancing pole. You might have even watched the tightrope walker, Nik Wallenda, cross over Niagara Falls not too long ago. Balance is key to ensuring a successful venture from start to finish—stability is equally important for smooth internet traffic. 

It is the very key to getting the end-user’s query from its originating point to its final destination. 

This blog is designed to provide you with all the basics about load balancing. I call it, “The low down on no down,”—as in downtime. It sounded better in my head, but we’ll go with it anyway.

Constellix Load Balancer

Network availability relies heavily on redundancy. Load balancing is commonly used to manage traffic flow between redundant systems, such as web servers or CDN services. Adding additional resources assists in greater results. 

Think of it in relation to a pit crew at a race track. Each member of the team has a predefined position which is assumed as soon as the driver pulls in mid-race. Precision and timing are everything. 

Having a unit working together to support your domain is mission-critical. Incoming traffic is shared, or balanced, amongst the configured systems to secure connectivity. Since they are always “live,” they are ready to take on traffic from a server that may be unavailable or unreliable. The load balancing service literally responds like a traffic director for the internet and points it in the direction of least resistance—the healthiest, available resource. The result? A smooth ride with zero transition impact for the end-users.

Constellix offers the ability to configure the service based on your organization’s specific needs. You can apply rules that optimize traffic flow based on resource performance, cost, and network infrastructure. Constellix also allows you to write your own rules based on the querying client’s location or network.

How does load balancing work?
How load balancing works

How DNS Load Balancing Works

Load balancing is basically the distribution of network traffic across multiple servers. This allows for evenly shared traffic so that one server does not become overwhelmed. Thinking back to the tightrope example, what would happen if weights were hung on one end of the balancing pole? Exactly. It’s no longer evenly distributed and that slight disproportion will make a big difference in trying to get to the final destination. In regards to network load balancing, the query traffic is dynamically distributed across multiple resources based on availability and performance.

Configuring DNS load balancing to your domain allows faster connections because it eliminates extra third-party lookups. This means that all of the action happens through your authoritative DNS provider. Your records essentially designate traffic to specific resources by cycling it through all of the IP addresses in your DNS configurations.  

Load Balancer Benefits

Load balancing is essential to maintaining a domain’s uptime and keeping query connections healthy and secure. If a system becomes unavailable, the load balancer will stop sending traffic to it and redirect it to another DNS server. While this can be achieved with Failover services, load balancing does not just use the configured redundant systems. However, both services work harmoniously together with other Constellix services to create a powerhouse of resiliency for your domain’s network.

Importance of a Good Load Balancer

With advances in cloud services and application security, load balancing is a necessity. The load balancer deciphers which DNS server(s) can handle what traffic and directs it as queries come through. The flow of information between the end-user and the server is managed by load balancers. 

Common Use Cases for Load Balancing 

Load Balancing is often used to balance traffic across redundant systems, like web or application servers and CDN services. If one DNS server is unavailable, there are multiple servers ready to take over the traffic load with no appreciable impact on end-users. 

Another common use case is A/B testing. These tests afford the opportunity to see if the changes will impact traffic before deploying new products and services. 

Types of Load Balancing

At Constellix, we offer different types of load balancing to best suit your needs. 

  • Failover - automatically moves your traffic from unavailable resources to healthy ones.
  • Round Robin - distributes requests sequentially across a redundant network of servers.
  • Weighted Round Robin - an advanced round-robin configuration that allows you to prioritize the resources by capacity or responsiveness. This permits higher amounts of traffic to be distributed to the servers that can handle more than the others.
  • Latency Routing (ITO) - a regionally-based solution that utilizes health checks and the round-trip time (RTT) of your configured resources to distribute traffic according to performance and distance from the end user.
  • Regional Load Balancing - allows custom, region-specific content delivery network (CDN) building using your own routing rules based on end-user locations.

See Different Types of Load Balancing for further details on Constellix load-balancing options.

Load Balance Your Network Traffic

Healthy connections start from the inside. Know your network and configure it according to your traffic to ensure a reliable relationship between your domain and end users. 

Constellix helps maintain connections. Book a free demo to see what configurations would best suit your needs in creating healthy, end-user experiences. 

“The customer is the FINAL inspector.” -Steve Jobs

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