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What is Cloud load balancing

Summary

As the name implies, cloud load balancing is Internet load balancing, performed in the cloud instead of on-premise. “Internet load balancing” means that Internet traffic is coming into a web application (a site, service, API, etc.).

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Summary

As the name implies, cloud load balancing is Internet load balancing, performed in the cloud instead of on-premise. “Internet load balancing” means that Internet traffic is coming into a web application (a site, service, API, etc.).

What is Cloud load balancing

As the name implies, cloud load balancing is Internet load balancing, performed in the cloud instead of on-premise. 

“Internet load balancing” means that Internet traffic is coming into a web application (a site, service, API, etc.). However, clients do not interact directly with the backend server; instead, their requests are routed through a load balancer (LB) first. The LB manages a pool of servers (a “server farm”), and distributes incoming requests across the farm. Ideally, the overall workload is distributed evenly across the available resources. (For more information, see What is Load Balancing? and How Load Balancing Works.)

Cloud LB products are the newest approach to load balancing, but older methods are still being used; many organizations still use hardware or software LBs in their data centers. But the adoption of cloud load balancing has skyrocketed in the last few years, because it has compelling advantages. Among them are lower cost, autoscaling, feature richness, and full integration with the other products from that cloud vendor.

A few years ago, load balancing was challenging to set up and maintain. Today, all of the top-tier cloud platforms provide easy-to-use, reliable load balancing services. AWS offers Elastic Load Balancing, Google Cloud offers Cloud Load Balancing, and Microsoft offers several products, including Azure Load Balancer.

Load balancing on Amazon Web Services

AWS offers Elastic Load Balancing, with three primary options: 

  • Application Load Balancer is Layer 7 (application-layer) load balancing. It routes HTTP/S traffic to targets within Amazon Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs), depending on the content of the individual requests.
  • Network Load Balancer is Layer 4 (network layer) load balancing. It is best used for routing Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) traffic to VPCs, in situations where extreme performance is required.
  • Classic Load Balancer can operate at both the request and the connection level. It provides basic load balancing across multiple Amazon EC2 instances.

AWS load balancing offers many advanced features (especially in the first two options shown above, which are more feature-rich than the Classic Load Balancer). These include URL redirections, user authentication, path-based routing, host-based routing, field-based routing, custom responses, and more. 

Load balancing on Microsoft Azure

Azure offers four primary load-balancing services:

  • Front Door is a load balancing and delivery network for web applications. It offers Layer 7 capabilities such as path-based routing, SSL offloading, caching, and more.
  • Traffic Manager is a DNS-based load balancer. It operates at the domain level.
  • Application Gateway provides application delivery controller (ADC) as a service, providing a number of Layer 7 load-balancing capabilities.
  • Azure Load Balancer provides Layer 4 load-balancing (inbound and outbound) for all UDP and TCP protocols. It is a high-performance service, capable of handling millions of requests per second with low latency.

Load balancing on Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

GCP offers Cloud Load Balancing, a flexible load-balancing service that includes these features:

  • Global multi-region load-balancing behind a single anycast IP.
  • Multi-protocol, capable of handling HTTP(S), TCP/SSL, UDP, HTTP/2 with gRPC (for backends), and QUIC.
  • High performance, capable of handling over a million queries per second.
  • Integration with Cloud CDN.
  • Stackdriver logging. 

Constant improvement

The major cloud providers are always adding new products, and improving their existing ones. Thus, the feature lists above are only rough guidelines; they might not reflect the newest products or features. When considering a cloud platform, you should always check the provider’s website to get the most current information.

Furthermore, the cloud services industry is intensely competitive. If a specific cloud platform does not currently offer a feature that your organization needs, it is probably only a matter of time before it will. 

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