Load Balancing in the Cloud

Arthur Cole
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Six Questions You Should Ask Your Cloud Provider

Employ a carefully defined risk analysis of IT systems and procedures before deciding which cloud technology and service is best for your organization.

The beauty of the cloud is that it puts an end to IT's constant struggle to provide adequate resources to meet current and expected data loads.


But since data has a way of spiking with little or no notice, even the most state-of-the-art cloud environment will be of little use without a highly robust, automated load balancing component.


Many of the top public cloud services have made load balancing a priority, primarily as a means to distinguish themselves as full-service solution providers rather than mere adjuncts to internal data center infrastructure. Amazon, for example, recently incorporated the Zeus Simple Load Balancer into the EC2 platform with an eye toward drawing in more small- and mid-sized customers. The idea is to tap into Zeus' installed base of nearly 1,500 customers in such a way that load balancing can easily shift between internal and external resources according to data requirements. The best part is the Amazon version is available at only 21 cents per hour. Hosting.com is pursuing a similar strategy with the addition of Coyote Point's Dedicated Load Balancing solution, which is expected to improve application response time and availability as well.


Rackspace is also hot on the load balancing trail, having just released a beta version for its Cloud Server stack. The system supports most of the popular protocols, including HTTP/HTTPS, LDAP/LDAPS, FTP and SMPT, and incorporates a number of load balancing algorithms like round robin, weighted round robin and random. It also supports user-defined connection throttling. As a beta release, however, it is not yet supported by the Rackspace Cloud Control Panel.


For many development firms, load balancing over the cloud is the next logical step for their virtualization platforms. Racemi, for instance, has gained a sizable following with its Dynacenter platform, which easily transfers virtual servers across ESX, Xen and Hyper-V environments. The company is slated to launch a new version of the software this week that incorporates both hybrid and public cloud services like EC2 and Rackspace. The company says it can provide server image flexibility regardless of operating system, application software or physical, virtual or cloud architecture.


The cloud is the most advanced technology the enterprise has ever seen. But all the technology in the world doesn't amount to a hill of beans if functionality is lacking. Now that seamless load balancing is in the mix, the cloud can start shedding its "gee-whiz" factor and start delivering real performance gains.



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