Load Balancer: increase performance with smart load balancing among servers

Players of the digital market (brands, large e-commerce platforms...) now compete on the field of user experience and consequently with one of the factors that determines it the most, speed. The load balancer plays a key role in the intelligent balancing of loads between servers.

Optimizing infrastructure for a satisfying experience

The first step to success, therefore, becomes optimising the infrastructure so that you can offer your potential customers a rewarding experience. Load balancing is a fundamental tool in this ideal architecture: it makes the network faster, more scalable and secure, with significant benefits in terms of cost and UX quality.

Load Balancer: speed above everything

Aside being a technical aspect, the loading time is a particularly important feature of a website. This is true both for Google – which considers it a determining factor for ranking – and for users, who, while the wheel keeps spinning, can decide to leave your site and switch to that of your competitor.

To reduce loading times and provide fast navigation even where there is a large fluctuation in traffic and therefore in the use of resources (think of a big company’s website or an e-commerce with thousands of products), it therefore becomes essential to play all the cards that technology offers today. Load balancing is one of them and it is also among the processes that your infrastructure should be managing. Let us see the reasons behind this.

Load Balancer : what is it?

Load balancing – that is balancing loads on available resources – is the distribution system of web content created to better manage loads.

Each website is subject to variations in traffic flows at various times of the day or year and this is crucial when the fluctuations are significant. For sites of strategic importance for the business, it is therefore essential to constantly monitor all the metrics related to the use of resources and manage highs in order to guarantee these two requirements:

  • Prevention from server overload, which reduces service quality;
  • Maximum performance of content delivery with minimal latency.

Physical and virtual Load Balancers (hardware/software)

Load balancing can be carried out at a physical level, i.e. by installing servers dedicated to this function, or at a virtual level, through software management. In the first case, we are dealing with a static infrastructure with high costs, while in the second case we have an infrastructure capable of adapting in real time to the actual traffic.

  • A static infrastructure can face two possible problems: if it is oversized it may entail unnecessary costs, if it is undersized, it may run the risk of providing a slow service in the event of overloads, up to even crashing the servers and interrupting the service, causing disastrous consequences both in terms of image and turnover.
  • A scalable infrastructure, on the other hand, allows the addition of more servers to the delivery cluster at the time of need, thus maintaining speed performance. Another advantage adding to its reliability is flexibility: before assigning a client’s request to a server, in fact, the system checks the correct delivery and transfers the request to another server cluster in the event of faults, thus guaranteeing service continuity.

Load Balancer: How it works and how to balance loads

Load balancers can be configured with various modes of routing requests; in any case, the structure acts as a single interface between the client and the various servers to which it distributes, usually located in different geographical areas. Here is the generic operating scheme (each system can have different features, at the level of sorting rules, management of IP addresses, etc.):

  • After receiving a request from the DNS server, the load balancer, based on its configuration, assigns it to a server;
  • Before transmitting the request, it checks the health of the selected server by querying the TCP port 80 using the http protocol;
  • If the outcome is positive, the request is transferred, otherwise should the server be too slow or out of service, it returns an error and the load balancer forwards the request to the next server, until it finds one that responds positively.

The priorities according to which the software assigns the requests that reach it to the various clusters depend on the logic of the algorithm used. There are four main algorithms used:

  • Round Robin
  • Weighted Round Robin
  • Least connections
  • Weighted Least Connections

 Without going into details, we can say that the main differences consist in giving different priority to four fundamental factors:

  • Order of requests
  • Number of queueing requests
  • Weight of the requested resource
  • Server capacity

Load Balancer: main implementation benefits

The advantages of an infrastructure supported by a balancing solution are many. Let’s summarise them schematically here: 

  • Speed: a flexible load management system ensures faster response times. Servers in the network share client requests, thus preserving the resources available for high-performance work.
  • Scalability: the structure automatically sizes itself according to the number of requests it receives, avoiding unnecessary and costly oversizing or, conversely, risky overloading.
  • Service continuity: a load balancing system, in the event of a server fault, can isolate the problem server by diverting traffic to functioning delivery chains, avoiding service interruptions and ensuring business continuity.

The Load Balancer as part of an infrastructure optimised for speed and security

In a delivery system aimed at maximising performance and security, load balancing represents one of the modules of a more complex infrastructure, in which it is located at the first level of interaction with the user.

As shown, the integration of a load balancing system represents an important contribution in many respects: in optimising resources, in terms of security and increasing loading resources performance. An infrastructure designed to provide a fast and reliable web service cannot therefore be separated from the implementation of a load balancer.

iSmartFrame integrates the load balancer with management of customizable sorting policies into its distribution infrastructure. Each data centre has its own load balancers controlling the content delivery chain, with hubs distributed all over the world. Before showing an HTML page, over 100 optimisation tasks are performed, with enormous advantages for speed and, consequently, for the user experience and positioning on search engines.