Cloud Load Balancing 101: Definition, Features, and Benefits

middleware team

MW Team

August 23, 2021

Cloud Load Balancing 101: Definition, Features, and Benefits

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If recent cloud computing forecasts and predictions are anything to go by, the world is soon going to witness a booming cloud market that is much more expansive than what we’ve witnessed so far. 

The latest statistics doing the rounds suggest that by 2025, data totaling about 100 zettabytes (one zettabyte is equal to a trillion gigabytes) will be stored in the cloud. 

As far as cloud data centers are concerned (such as the ones owned by Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine, and Microsoft Azure), studies indicate that 94% of all workloads will be processed via said data centers by the end of this year (2021). Of these, SaaS (Software as a Service) processes will make up for 75% of the entire workload. 

A quick dive into how enterprises play a role in these numbers reveal that 50% of them have already invested over $1.2 million yearly on cloud services. So, if there ever was a good time to be a SaaS cloud service provider, that time is now. 

But just like how all good things come with a price, so also is the case with cloud-based applications. Over time, as your application grows, raking in more users from across the globe, the surge in service requests will quite naturally take a toll on cloud applications. This is essentially where cloud load balancing providers work their charm and evenly disperses the workload across servers. 

To get a better idea of the workings of cloud load balancing, let’s first look at how it is defined. 

What is cloud load balancing - definition 

In the simplest of terms, cloud load balancing is defined as the process where the allocation of workload and computing resources in a cloud (service provider) environment is evenly distributed such that cloud applications are able to attain greater efficiency and reliability. 

It is this cloud load balancing that allows enterprises to manage client requests by hosting the distribution of resources between several computers, application servers, or networks. 

The ultimate goal of cloud load balancing providers is to optimize all the resources available to an enterprise while ensuring that the response time provided to users of cloud applications is reduced as much as possible. 

Difference between hardware and software load balancing

Load balancing processes were in existence way back in the 1990s (even before cloud was a thing) and are also referred to as DNS-based global load balancing solutions. 

The solution came into being when websites needed traffic to be distributed between multiple servers (across a single network) via the use of hardware appliances. 

As such, traditional load balancing solutions depended heavily on proprietary hardware stored in data centers. Enterprises needed to hire sophisticated IT professionals to not only install the system but also to tune, maintain and manage it. 

Consequently, only large corporations with enormous budgets allocated to IT services could afford such systems. However, these hardware appliances ensured that websites ran seamlessly, enhanced their performance, and increased their reliability. 

But since the emergence of cloud load balancing software, its hardware equivalent has somewhat lost its relevance and shine. 

This is because firstly, the said hardware appliances do not have cloud support (which is essentially what a majority of enterprises are looking for at the moment). Moreover, cloud infrastructure providers generally do not permit customers or proprietary hardware into their cloud environment. 

Fortunately for cloud service providers and enterprises alike, cloud load balancing software is able to deliver the same results (and more), which are to increase the performance and reliability of cloud applications at significantly lower costs. 

Cloud load balancing - features

Although cloud load balancing’s selling points are its ability to maintain application firmness, expedite application performance and protect cloud applications & services from unprecedented failures, it has several use cases aside from these. Let’s look at them now. 

Seamless Autoscaling

With the aid of cloud load balancers, your enterprise can autoscale its application effectively, allowing it to manage a surge or dip in the workload whenever needed. This feature is entirely cost-effective because it reduces the resources used when cloud application requests, and server requests also decrease. 

All cloud service providers need to do is define their autoscaling policy at the time of initial set up, and the cloud load balancer will permit the auto scaler to perform automatic scaling as per the measured load. 

Supports Several Protocols

Since cloud load balancing software is specifically curated to serve cloud applications, it has support for a variety of the latest protocols, including  HTTP/2, TCP, and UDP load balancing. 

Active health checks

Cloud load balancers are programmed to periodically carry out health checks by sending specific health check requests to each of the cloud application’s servers. This is done so that the health of upstream servers is taken into consideration. At the end of the health check, the load balancer verifies the response as well. 

These regular health checks also ensure that when a cloud application encounters new connection requests, they are load-balanced to backends that are healthy (which means that they’re up and ready to receive more server requests). 

Expedited Performance in the Face of Increased Traffic Volume

Whether the number of requests or traffic your cloud application receives borders on the thousands, hundreds, or millions, cloud load balancing providers will ensure that the workload is evenly distributed in real-time. 

The benefits of cloud load balancing 

If your enterprise is in the business of providing a number of cloud services and infrastructure with visions to scale your organization even further, your need for a cloud load balancing provider duly increases. This is because you would naturally have increased requests coming in from clients across the globe. 

Even if you don’t plan to bring in additional cloud services to your cloud infrastructure, you may come across instances where there’s a sudden seasonal upsurge of workload. In such a case, your cloud application cannot do without a cloud load balancer. Because if you’re unable to respond to server requests at appropriate times, your enterprise will suffer. 

In that vein, let’s look at some of the biggest benefits of using a cloud load balancer.

High Performing Applications

By making use of the right kind of cloud load balancing providers available in the market, your enterprise can scale its services and ensure that increased traffic does not necessarily mean decreased efficiency. Load balancers will intervene and distribute the workload in such a manner that high performance is maintained at all times. 

Ability to Handle Traffic Surges

Instead of employing a sleuth of IT professionals to find ways to solve traffic surges, cloud load balancers manage server requests in a manner wherein each server runs in an efficient and capable capacity. This even distribution allows servers to generate optimum results in the least response time possible. 

Flexibility

Cloud load balancers work in a way such that traffic is routed and dispersed between several servers and network units. As a result, even if one specific node in a chain of linked nodes cannot take the workload, the burden is instantly transported to another node that is also active. With the aid of cloud load balancing, the management of application traffic is taken care of with easy flexibility. 

Cost-Effectiveness

When enterprises utilize an efficient cloud load balancing provider, they’re able to deliver better cloud service performances for all their clients allowing them to become dependable and reliable in the long run. An added bonus is the fact that this is all achieved at significantly lower costs of ownership. 

Because cloud load balancers run on the cloud, even small-time businesses, startups, and medium-sized enterprises can avail of its services. 

Reliability and Increased Scalability 

When it comes to scalability, cloud load balancers can easily match up to surges in traffic and effectively distribute it between the many servers and network devices the cloud application runs on. 

In the event of a cloud service crashing, cloud load balancers are quite efficient in rerouting traffic away from the resource in question such that the workload moves to a different resource within the cloud environment. 

Wrapping up

As evidenced by the increasing demand for cloud service providers, applications, and computing environments in general, cloud load balancing providers are the need of the hour. 

By definition, load balancing allows for a cloud environment that is scalable, cost-effective, and global in nature. As such, platforms such as middleware.io are here to bridge the gap and provide enterprises with SaaS cloud services a solution to their workload balancing needs. 

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