Ensure a load-balancer failover in a virtualized environment

Know what types of load balancers you need to avoid disaster

Load balancing is the sort of technology that you don't want people to notice. Similar to an offensive lineman, if there's a lot of chatter about your load balancer, something has probably gone wrong.

Perhaps you remember when Google had a load-balancing error in 2012 that knocked out Gmail for 40% of its users and affected other applications, such as Google Drive and Google Calendar. It's a good bet that the folks over at Google don't need reminding.

The IT world doesn't look the same now as it did when Google had its calamity five years ago, and the types of load balancers on the market reflect that. Load balancers have to react to a more virtualized environment, and that means load balancing is more complex than ever. As Jim O'Reilly writes in this handbook, it's no longer good enough for a load balancer to be a fixed, single-function appliance. Modern ones must be dynamic and react at a moment's notice to surges and deviations in frequency.

That is how load balancing has evolved up to now. What comes next will be even more complex. Anticipatory response could make load-balancer failover even more valuable to businesses and eliminate the fear of latency. Look for load balancers to get more involved with software-defined technologies in an effort to reduce bottlenecks.

Businesses won't struggle to find vendors with many types of load balancers that can offer all sorts of options. But if your business leans into modern technologies, such as virtualization and the cloud, make sure your load balancer can keep up with you. The folks at Google can offer a reminder of what happens if your choice fails you.