As businesses embrace the cloud, hybrid has become their new reality, resulting in a complete end-to-end network infrastructure from the data center to the cloud. Investments in hardware across the data center are still being considered as applications migrate to the cloud.
Load Balancing enables organizations to cost-effectively scale their operations, while ensuring high availability and an outstanding user experience. Providing the bedrock for building flexible networks that meet evolving demands by improving performance and security for many types of traffic and services, including applications.
Several types of load balancing are used, from DNS redirection to the nearest server, spreading load across or within data centers. Using least used-, round-robin and/or specific application health metrics, loads can be redirected and support disaster recovery scenarios.
From SMBs and large enterprises to service providers and cloud operators, organizations are hosting a large and rapidly growing set of mission-critical applications in need of scaling and availability.
We've selected five of the best load balancers to consider for 2019.
1. F5 Networks BIG-IP platforms
Considered as the benchmark for load balancing, many of the world's biggest IT departments use F5. Its appliance-based Load Balancers are designed to enhance application scalability and availability for enterprises whether it is physical, virtual, cloud or disaster recovery (DR).
Its BIG-IP Global Traffic Manager (GTM) is a high-performance DNS server with global load balancing capabilities. Using Layer 3 GSLB methods and application monitoring, GTM lets you route traffic geographically across multiple data centers. If a data center goes down, GTM directs your users to the nearest or best-performing data center.
The BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) supports Layer 7 load balancing among servers, while monitoring the health and performance of individual servers in real time. F5 load balancers can offload handling of SSL certificates, which removes the pressure from web servers and places it on optimized hardware where it belongs.
The BIG-IP product family has a load-balancing solution for almost any budget and application, which can help in the process of cost comparing load balancers across its product line as well as versus other load balancing vendors.
2. A10 Application Delivery & Load Balancer
The A10 Thunder ADC product line of high-performance, next-generation application delivery controllers enable customers’ applications to be highly available, accelerated and secure.
Offering a complete application optimization solution, the A10 Thunder ADC (Application Delivery Controller) processes a complex set of functions simultaneously via the industry’s highest-performing appliances. It integrates advanced L4-7 techniques to ensure server availability, protect vulnerable applications and accelerate content delivery.
Thunder ADC delivers L4-7 load balancing and multiple layers of security via web and DNS app firewalls, single sign-on (SSO) authentication and in-depth support for advanced encryption, including high-performance PFS/ECC.
Built upon A10’s Advanced Core Operating System platform, Thunder ADC delivers application performance and security for any environment up to 220 Gbps of throughput in a single one-rack unit appliance — or 1.7 Tbps of throughput in a cluster — and features the broadest range of form factors, including physical, virtual, bare metal multi-tenant and cloud.
3. Citrix ADC (formerly NetScaler ADC)
Citrix benefits from its platform being the load-balancing ADC that fully integrates into Cisco's unified fabric, leveraging Cisco's APIC (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller) to automate network provisioning and control based on app requirements and policies for data centers and enterprise environments.
Advanced L4-L7 server load balancing make sure that application users access the right resource every time, while intelligent monitoring continuously checks the status of server resources to make sure they're ready to deliver applications on demand.
In addition, an optional Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB) feature enables organizations to deliver applications from multiple geographical locations, and transparently redirects users to a backup data center in the event of failure.
The ADC features software-driven architecture that delivers performance and scale without a heavy reliance on custom hardware, blades, or chassis systems.
4. Avi Vantage Software Load Balancer
Avi Networks is a vendor that attempts to reinvent what traditional infrastructure should look like. Their platform runs on x86 servers, virtual machines or containers and offers a bunch of functionality — all aimed at creating a dynamic pool of resources and then automating those resources for the best outcomes possible.
During one of their tests, Avi Networks’ software delivered 1 million SSL transactions per second (TPS) to a single web application, automatically scaling up services in just 10 minutes from zero to peak traffic, after which it scaled down to normal levels.
The results seem to debunk a common myth that companies must spend lots of money on proprietary hardware load balancers to handle large transaction volumes or high throughput.
5. Radware's Alteon Application Delivery Controller
Alteon is Radware’s next-generation Application Delivery Controller (ADC) and a load balancer that guarantees application SLA. It provides end-to-end local and global load balancing capabilities for all Web, cloud and mobile-based applications.
The Alteon load balancer combines best-of-breed application delivery capabilities, leading SSL performance that supports all of the latest encryption protocols, and advanced services to companies with ongoing application lifecycle management challenges that impact the performance of web applications.
It's the only application delivery controller in the industry built from the ground up to ensure application SLA. Alteon’s load balancing solutions bundles:
- FastView Web Performance Optimization (WPO)
- Application Performance Monitoring (APM)
- AppWall Web Application Firewall (WAF)
- Authentication Gateway
- Advanced Denial of Service (ADoS)
- ITM / bandwidth management
- And maximum SSL + compression capacities.
Radware offers an array of network appliances to suit load balancing requirements. The Radware units are affordable, scalable and smart. Smart goes a long way in contemporary data centers and Radware incorporates numerous technologies like health monitoring and detection, stateful persistency, high availability, redundancy, traffic redirection, global load balancing, DoS mitigation and significant performance optimizations.
Some notable features of Radware devices are easy updates and upgrades, application-aware services, and improved application response time through smart caching.
Trend: From Load Balancers to Application Delivery Controllers (ADC's)
While hardware load balancer devices have evolved into application delivery controllers (ADC) by adding security, offloading of services along with the seamless access to applications, load balancing still remains at the heart of any ADC.
Enterprises and hosting companies rely on ADC devices to distribute traffic to create highly available services and implement disaster recovery scenarios by protecting against single point of failure outages and traffic bottlenecks to systems.
ADCs can additionally help prevent denial-of-service attacks and allow legitimate users uninterrupted access to services.
ADC Deployment categories
Currently there are three deployment categories:
- Hardware appliances
- Virtual appliances
- Cloud-native load balancers.
As computing moves to the cloud, software-based ADCs perform similar services and tasks to hardware and come with added functionality and flexibility. Those services include SSL/TLS offload, caching, compression, intrusion detection and web application firewalls. This creates even shorter delivery times and greater scalability.
Manageability is changing from a few devices carrying multiple gigabits of traffic to tens or hundreds of smaller software based ADC’s. Centralised management of these instances is key to ensuring service availability by highlighting service bottlenecks in-time.
ADC's let an organization quickly and securely scale up its application services based on demand in the cloud or on-premise, when managed properly an absolute must have for any organisation.
4 January 2019