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What Is Load Balancing? | @CloudExpo #IoT #M2M #API #Cloud
Intent of load balancing is to create a system that virtualizes the ‘service’ from the physical servers that run that service

The entire intent of load balancing is to create a system that virtualizes the “service” from the physical servers that actually run that service. A more basic definition is to balance the load across a bunch of physical servers and make those servers look like one great big server to the outside world. There are many reasons to do this, but the primary drivers can be summarized as “scalability,” “high availability,” and “predictability.”

Scalability is the capability of dynamically, or easily, adapting to increased load without impacting existing performance. Service virtualization presented an interesting opportunity for scalability; if the service, or the point of user contact, was separated from the actual servers, scaling of the application would simply mean adding more servers or cloud resources which would not be visible to the end user.

devcentral_basics_article_banner

High Availability (HA) is the capability of a site to remain available and accessible even during the failure of one or more systems. Service virtualization also presented an opportunity for HA; if the point of user contact was separated from the actual servers, the failure of an individual server would not render the entire application unavailable. Predictability is a little less clear as it represents pieces of HA as well as some lessons learned along the way. However, predictability can best be described as the capability of having confidence and control in how the services are being delivered and when they are being delivered in regards to availability, performance, and so on.

A Little Background
Back in the early days of the commercial Internet, many would-be dot-com millionaires discovered a serious problem in their plans. Mainframes didn’t have web server software (not until the AS/400e, anyway) and even if they did, they couldn’t afford them on their start-up budgets. What they could afford was standard, off-the-shelf server hardware from one of the ubiquitous PC manufacturers. The problem for most of them? There was no way that a single PC-based server was ever going to handle the amount of traffic their idea would generate and if it went down, they were offline and out of business. Fortunately, some of those folks actually had plans to make their millions by solving that particular problem; thus was born the load balancing market.

In the Beginning, There Was DNS
Before there were any commercially available, purpose-built load balancing devices, there were many attempts to utilize existing technology to achieve the goals of scalability and HA. The most prevalent, and still used, technology was DNS round-robin. Domain name system (DNS) is the service that translates human-readable names (www.example.com) into machine recognized IP addresses. DNS also provided a way in which each request for name resolution could be answered with multiple IP addresses in different order.

dns lb1

Figure 1: Basic DNS response for redundancy

The first time a user requested resolution for www.example.com, the DNS server would hand back multiple addresses (one for each server that hosted the application) in order, say 1, 2, and 3. The next time, the DNS server would give back the same addresses, but this time as 2, 3, and 1. This solution was simple and provided the basic characteristics of what customer were looking for by distributing users sequentially across multiple physical machines using the name as the virtualization point.

From a scalability standpoint, this solution worked remarkable well; probably the reason why derivatives of this method are still in use today particularly in regards to global load balancing or the distribution of load to different service points around the world. As the service needed to grow, all the business owner needed to do was add a new server, include its IP address in the DNS records, and voila, increased capacity. One note, however, is that DNS responses do have a maximum length that is typically allowed, so there is a potential to outgrow or scale beyond this solution.

This solution did little to improve HA. First off, DNS has no capability of knowing if the servers listed are actually working or not, so if a server became unavailable and a user tried to access it before the DNS administrators knew of the failure and removed it from the DNS list, they might get an IP address for a server that didn’t work.

Proprietary Load Balancing in Software
One of the first purpose-built solutions to the load balancing problem was the development of load balancing capabilities built directly into the application software or the operating system (OS) of the application server. While there were as many different implementations as there were companies who developed them, most of the solutions revolved around basic network trickery. For example, one such solution had all of the servers in a cluster listen to a “cluster IP” in addition to their own physical IP address.

cluster lb1

Figure 2: Proprietary cluster IP load balancing

When the user attempted to connect to the service, they connected to the cluster IP instead of to the physical IP of the server. Whichever server in the cluster responded to the connection request first would redirect them to a physical IP address (either their own or another system in the cluster) and the service session would start. One of the key benefits of this solution is that the application developers could use a variety of information to determine which physical IP address the client should connect to. For instance, they could have each server in the cluster maintain a count of how many sessions each clustered member was already servicing and have any new requests directed to the least utilized server.

Initially, the scalability of this solution was readily apparent. All you had to do was build a new server, add it to the cluster, and you grew the capacity of your application. Over time, however, the scalability of application-based load balancing came into question. Because the clustered members needed to stay in constant contact with each other concerning who the next connection should go to, the network traffic between the clustered members increased exponentially with each new server added to the cluster. The scalability was great as long as you didn’t need to exceed a small number of servers.

HA was dramatically increased with these solutions. However, since each iteration of intelligence-enabling HA characteristics had a corresponding server and network utilization impact, this also limited scalability. The other negative HA impact was in the realm of reliability.

Network-Based Load balancing Hardware
The second iteration of purpose-built load balancing came about as network-based appliances. These are the true founding fathers of today’s Application Delivery Controllers. Because these boxes were application-neutral and resided outside of the application servers themselves, they could achieve their load balancing using much more straight-forward network techniques. In essence, these devices would present a virtual server address to the outside world and when users attempted to connect, it would forward the connection on the most appropriate real server doing bi-directional network address translation (NAT).

hw lb (1)

Figure 3: Load balancing with network-based hardware

The load balancer could control exactly which server received which connection and employed “health monitors” of increasing complexity to ensure that the application server (a real, physical server) was responding as needed; if not, it would automatically stop sending traffic to that server until it produced the desired response (indicating that the server was functioning properly). Although the health monitors were rarely as comprehensive as the ones built by the application developers themselves, the network-based hardware approach could provide at least basic load balancing services to nearly every application in a uniform, consistent manner—finally creating a truly virtualized service entry point unique to the application servers serving it.

Scalability with this solution was only limited by the throughput of the load balancing equipment and the networks attached to it. It was not uncommon for organization replacing software-based load balancing with a hardware-based solution to see a dramatic drop in the utilization of their servers. HA was also dramatically reinforced with a hardware-based solution. Predictability was a core component added by the network-based load balancing hardware since it was much easier to predict where a new connection would be directed and much easier to manipulate.

The advent of the network-based load balancer ushered in a whole new era in the architecture of applications. HA discussions that once revolved around “uptime” quickly became arguments about the meaning of “available” (if a user has to wait 30 seconds for a response, is it available? What about one minute?).

This is the basis from which Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs) originated.

The ADC
Simply put, ADCs are what all good load balancers grew up to be. While most ADC conversations rarely mention load balancing, without the capabilities of the network-based hardware load balancer, they would be unable to affect application delivery at all. Today, we talk about security, availability, and performance, but the underlying load balancing technology is critical to the execution of all.

Next Steps
Ready to plunge into the next level of Load Balancing? Take a peek at these resources:

ps

Read the original blog entry...

About Peter Silva
Peter is an F5 evangelist for security, IoT, mobile and core. His background in theatre brings the slightly theatrical and fairly technical together to cover training, writing, speaking, along with overall product evangelism for F5. He's also produced over 350 videos and recorded over 50 audio whitepapers. After working in Professional Theatre for 10 years, Peter decided to change careers. Starting out with a small VAR selling Netopia routers and the Instant Internet box, he soon became one of the first six Internet Specialists for AT&T managing customers on the original ATT WorldNet network.

Now having his Telco background he moved to Verio to focus on access, IP security along with web hosting. After losing a deal to Exodus Communications (now Savvis) for technical reasons, the customer still wanted Peter as their local SE contact so Exodus made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. As only the third person hired in the Midwest, he helped Exodus grow from an executive suite to two enormous datacenters in the Chicago land area working with such customers as Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone, uBid, Orbitz, Best Buy and others.

Writer, speaker and Video Host, he's also been in such plays as The Glass Menagerie, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cinderella and others.

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KATZEN
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CenturyLink

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EMC

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Cisco

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Systems Services Inc.

COLLISON
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CodeFutures

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SIOS

WILLIS
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MURPHY
Gridstore

KHABE
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GetClouder

DIETZE
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EnterpriseDB

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WHOA.com

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SEYMOUR
6fusion

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Author

CARTER
IBM

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Cloud Expo Silicon Valley All-Star Speakers

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CodeFutures

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KHAN
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SINGH
Bigdata

BEACH
SendGrid

BOSTOCK
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DE SOUZA
Cisco

PATTATHIL
Harbinger

O'BRIEN
Aria Systems

BONIFAZI
Solgenia

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PROCTOR
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EnterpriseWeb

TEGETHOFF
Appcore

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Cisco

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Esri

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Vormetric

CUMBER-
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Dimension

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Quantum

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Cloudant

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HANNON
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SoftLayer

HOCH
Virtustream

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PAQUIN
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AOL

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Catbird

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Verizon

YEO
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Transparent Cloud Computing

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Transparent Cloud Computing

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GE

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GE

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Databricks

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Pivotal Software


Testimonials
This week I had the pleasure of delivering the opening keynote at Cloud Expo New York. It was amazing to be back in the great city of New York with thousands of cloud enthusiasts eager to learn about the next step on their journey to embracing a cloud-first worldl."
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General Manager of Window Azure
 
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One of the best conferences we have attended in a while. Great job, Cloud Expo team! Keep it going."

@Peak_Ten


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@CloudExpo Blogs
Blockchain. A day doesn’t seem to go by without seeing articles and discussions about the technology. According to PwC executive Seamus Cushley, approximately $1.4B has been invested in blockchain just last year. In Gartner’s recent hype cycle for emerging technologies, blockchain is approaching the peak. It is considered by Gartner as one of the ‘Key platform-enabling technologies to track.’ While there is a lot of ‘hype vs reality’ discussions going on, there is no arguing that blockchain is being taken very seriously across industries and cannot be ignored.
As you have probably heard, the EU commission signed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) back in April 2016. The legislation is designed to help companies handle efficiently the data challenges of the 21st century and give strict guidelines as to how to work with massive flows of digital information. It is set to protect web users (data subjects) from malicious use and loss of their personal info and, also, to give people greater control over how their records are processed.
2017 was the year of ransomware. Ransomware has been around for years, but the victims were typically non-technical consumers: the impact, although serious from the victim's perspective, was limited. In 2017 we've seen huge ransomware attacks close down hospitals and businesses, putting lives and billions of dollars at risk.
It’s conference season and, as you might expect, Jason and I have been on the road covering a bunch of them. It’s always great to see what the disruptive players in the market are doing — and this year did not disappoint. But there is one thing that repeatedly happens that just gets under my skin: transformation-washing. As Jason explained in a Forbes article over a year ago, ‘washing’ is when a vendor (or pundit) applies a buzzword loosely in an overt attempt to attach themselves to its buzz. And transformation-washing is rampant.
We’re seeing an emerging trend in the cloud computing world. I’ve been referring to it as cloud fatigue, but it’s more commonly known as repatriation, or moving workloads from the cloud back to on-prem locations. According to a recent 451 Research report, over 21 percent of organizations have plans to pull back from the cloud and return to an on-prem infrastructure in 2017. Considering the vast growth of cloud adoption over the last several years, what’s behind this trend?
The word polymorphism is used in various contexts and describes situations in which something occurs in several different forms. In computer science, it describes the concept that objects of different types can be accessed through the same interface. Each type can provide its own, independent implementation of this interface. It is one of the core concepts of object-oriented programming (OOP).
How is DevOps going within your organization? If you need some help measuring just how well it is going, we have prepared a list of some key DevOps metrics to track. These metrics can help you understand how your team is doing over time. The word DevOps means different things to different people. Some say it a culture and every vendor in the industry claims that their tools help with DevOps. Depending on how you define DevOps, some of these metrics may matter more or less to you and your team.
The hotel and hospitality industry, enabled with advanced technology and more collaboration with associated businesses, will see some important trends in 2018 as hotel brands reinvent themselves to cater to a new type of clientele. Millennial guests will dominate the landscape, and reshape the industry with demands for more automated options and conveniences and the ability to do everything from a smartphone, and hotels - eager to deliver more conveniences to this younger audience - will forge closer alliances with retailers and community destination
The cloud market is growing at a rate of 30% annually and is expected to reach $130 billion. Analysts predict that service providers are well positioned to be the leading point of distribution for cloud services in light of the scale of their operations and their capacity to offer end-to-end lifecycle management for IaaS, SaaS and PaaS over secure managed networks.
Our cities have been connected since the dawn of urbanization in the Indus Valley and on the plains of Mesopotamia nearly ten millennia ago. Cities exist to gather and connect people, bringing us together into communities and joint ventures that need complex networks of communication. But in recent years the connected city has come to mean something more. Today and in the future, the connected city will not just be about people connecting with people, but people with machines, people with people via machines, and perhaps most importantly, machines with machines.
Decentralization of everything, the great new idea of which the web can’t stop babbling, might still seem a bit utopian if you inspect it closely. Yes, blockchains are likely to reshape our economy, or a huge part of it, and benefit considerably those who are currently unbanked. They might also facilitate the creation of rating/reputation systems that are not controlled by any single entity and thus allow people (say Uber drivers who’d like to work for Lyft) to switch employers without having to establish their credibility anew. They might give users complete control over their assets; prot...
Quantum Computing is becoming quite the hot topic lately. With research being done by Google, IBM, Microsoft, universities, and a number of other players, it’s looking this is really going to happen. In fact, Google may just be weeks away from announcing the Quantum Supremacy milestone. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of Quantum Supremacy yet, it’s basically the point where a quantum computer can complete a computation in a short time where a classical computer can’t complete it at all. This is a big deal. While there are some simple quantum computers out there right now (you can ...
This phrase is new and it originated at Netflix back in 2010. I was listening to Nora Jones, a Netflix engineer at the AWS re-Invent conference few weeks back, where she talked about this. The principle of Chaos goes like this, “Chaos Engineering is the discipline of experimenting on a distributed system in order to build confidence in the system’s capability to withstand turbulent conditions in production.” Distributed systems have too many moving parts and failures can occur at various levels – hard disks can fail, the network can go down, a sudden surge in customer traffic can overload a fu...
Bitcoins are a digital cryptocurrency and have been around since 2009. As a substitute for legal tender, they are becoming the rage for investors and others but because there is no government agency auditing or performing regulatory oversights, you wonder if it is the perfect breeding ground for electronic nanocrime. Since the introduction of the Bitcoin, some competitors have emerged and the whole segment of cryptocurrencies are defined as Altcoins. Altcoins include Dogecoin, Ethereum Feathercoin, Litecoin, Novacoin, Peercoin, and Zetacoin. Some of these cryptocurrencies are considered impro...
Robotic process automation (RPA), a concept that has emerged over recent years, is still in a state of rapid evolution, existing without a clearly defined end-state or direction. As such, vendors are experimenting and pushing their products into uncharted waters - successfully or otherwise. Nonetheless, we can be sure that artificial intelligence and machine learning will continue to develop and impact on automation solutions as whole, even if at the moment these capabilities do not frequently exist within the RPA space.
In a recent post, titled “10 Surprising Facts About Cloud Computing and What It Really Is”, Zac Johnson highlighted some interesting facts about cloud computing in the SMB marketplace: Cloud Computing is up to 40 times more cost-effective for an SMB, compared to running its own IT system. 94% of SMBs have experienced security benefits in the cloud that they didn’t have with their on-premises service
While walking around the office I happened upon a relatively new employee dragging emails from his inbox into folders. I asked why and was told, “I’m just answering emails and getting stuff off my desk.” An empty inbox may be emotionally satisfying to look at, but in practice, you should never do it. Here’s why. I recently wrote a piece arguing that from a mathematical perspective, Messy Desks Are Perfectly Optimized. While it validated the genius of my friends with messy desks, it also generated a barrage of good-natured ribbing from my super-neat friends. Emotions aside, the math is the m...
In this article, we'll cover how you can monitor an application that runs on the Java Virtual Machine by going over some of the critical metrics you need to track. And, as a monitoring tool, we'll use Stackify Retrace, a full APM solution. The application we'll monitor to exemplify these metrics is a real-world Java web application built using the Spring framework. Users can register, login, connect their Reddit account and schedule their posts to Reddit.
The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Microservices being modular these are faster to change and enables an evolutionary architecture where systems can change, as the business needs change. Microservices can scale elastically and by being service oriented can enable APIs natively. Microservices also reduce implementation and release cycle time and enables continuous delivery. This paper provides a logical overview of the Microservices Reference Architecture that highlights various sub systems needed to support Microservic...
The enterprise data storage marketplace is poised to become a battlefield. No longer the quiet backwater of cloud computing services, the focus of this global transition is now going from compute to storage. An overview of recent storage market history is needed to understand why this transition is important. Before 2007 and the birth of the cloud computing market we are witnessing today, the on-premise model hosted in large local data centers dominated enterprise storage. Key marketplace players were EMC (before the Dell acquisition), NetApp, IBM, HP (before they became HPE) and Hitachi. Co...