Hardware load balancing is a popular term used in the tech arena. But, what is gaining more popularity these days is software load balancing. Different servers are reached by dispersing the network traffic by software load balancers. Load balancer identifies the nature of the request by examining application traits like IP address. After that, the load balancer seeks the servers and determines which server the request should be sent to.
To truly understand software load balancing, you should know how it is different from hardware load balancing. Software load balancing provides the same features, but you do not need to employ a device. A software load balancer is often run on a virtual server. You can also run it on a standard server, depending on your requirements.
History of Load Balancers
With the advent of cloud technology, the IT field was dominated by the ability to scale and expand the services horizontally. Load balancing is one of the techniques through which horizontal scaling occurs. Load balancers primarily were used to improve the performance of apps by routing traffic to multiple servers. All these servers had to be aligned with the load balancers.
In the initial stages of web development, only one server was present, and it was becoming difficult for just one server to handle a massive amount of traffic. Generally, the traffic exceeded the threshold limit, and it was becoming difficult to maintain a suitable and optimum level of performance. Nowadays there is no such problem due to load balancers. Load balancers enable you to have more than one server, and they all have the same configuration aligned to one load balancer.
It also acts as an inverted proxy that helps to handle the increased traffic. Load balancer solves a plethora of age-old web development. Traffic from external resources is sent to the load balancer, and the balancer distributes the traffic to multiple servers without affecting the quality of performance.
Types and Methods of Software Load Balancing
The load processor transmits four types of traffic when you talk about traffic: HTTP, HTTPS, TCP, and UDP. In HTTP, the standard mechanism of HTTP is used for routing requests. HTTPS work on the same wavelength as HTTP, with the difference being the use of encryption. The apps that aren’t compatible with either HTTP or HTTPS use TCP. Whereas few load balancers have additional support in terms of online protocols. However, the requests and data sent by the loaders should always be active ones. For this function, the health of servers is monitored in the back office using ports. If the server is unable to respond, it will get cut from the pile of servers and would not be able to route any traffic until it again responds to the test.
You can install the software load balancer using the help of a server or acquire it as a service like LBaas. In the LBaas, the service provider himself looks at all the installation, configuration, management, and maintenance. The load balancer could be onshore or offshore. Since load balancers function with servers, they too can be virtual or physical. The physical ones are hardware load balancers, and the virtual ones are software load balancers.
Methodologies Used in Load Balancing
Round-robin: It is one of the easiest methods of load balancing. It works by routing requests through various servers in similar order
Least time: It works on two factors, identifying the minimal busy server or the server with the least workload.
Hash-based: This is a fascinating method of software load balancing. In this, a peculiar key is designated to the source or the recipient’s IP address. So, when you request for the second time around, you will be redirected to the same server used before. The server also stores the data that was transmitted the first time around.
Benefits of Software Load Balancer
It has some advantages over hardware load balancers. The key reason why software load balancing is becoming the talk of time:
Scale: Software load balancers are way more scalable than their hardware counterparts. Software load balancers can work on virtual servers and add or deduct servers according to the situation.
Flexible: Flexibility is also one of the prime advantages of software load balancers. The core reason is that it is relatively more compatible. Software load balancers are complementary to virtual servers, operating systems, the cloud, etc. At the same time, hardware load balancers cannot be compatible with a lot of things.
Cost: Software load balancers are efficient due to cost.
Security: It acts as an added layer of protection between clients and servers. This provides an extra cushion of safety.
Easy deployment: Installation of the hardware load balancer is costly and cumbersome, whereas software load balancers are not only easy to install and configure, but also saves time and energy.
Virtual servers: Software load balancers are run with the help of virtual ones. Hence, they are directly uploaded onto the virtual server. At the same time, hardware load balancers are used with a device and cannot be used with a virtual server or multiple servers.
One of the prominent reasons for software load balancers is the fact that they are highly programmable. It also is an immediate process. The changes made to the software load balancer are immediately incorporated. Also, the changes occur at the same time, unlike the hardware load balancer. Hence, the changes are effective and quick.
You can set up your health checks and change them. And what makes it more unique is that the changes are made on the network level and not only on the application level.
A lot of monitoring can be undergone to investigate the overall health of load balancers. When a deviation is identified, corrective measures can be achieved with the help of automated scripts.
Software load balancers have an edge over hardware load balancers. When deciding what loader to use, IT personnel and companies should take pointers on the benefits of software load balancers against the hardware ones. Web developments evolved as it was becoming burdensome for one server to handle the traffic, often exceeding the threshold.
So, the performance and utility were frequently compromised. There was a need to go towards a technology that could handle multiple servers. Now load balancers are in use. But using hardware or software comes down to business. It all boils down to particular requirements of their business as a different business will require other loaders.
Another critical aspect to include is cost, and it should be realized. Software load balancers are uploaded on virtual servers, and hardware load balancers are used with a single-piece device. There are also various methods of software load balancer naming round-robin, hash-based, and least time. The software load balancer is more scalable than the hardware counterpart as it can also add or deduct more servers. It is also a lot more flexible as it is complementary to virtual servers, clouds, etc. It provides security as a software load balancer acts as a cushion between servers and clients. The ease of configuration and installation saves time and energy.