Top 12 Network and Application Load Balancers - CentLinux - Installation Guides & HowTos


Thursday, 25 March 2021

Top 12 Network and Application Load Balancers


This article enlists the top 12 network and application load balancing devices. The list includes hardware, software and cloud load balancers.


Table of Contents:


What is a Load Balancer?:

Load balancer is a device that acts as a reverse proxy and distributes network or application traffic across a number of servers. The device is used to increase capacity (concurrent users) and reliability of applications. They improve the overall performance of applications by decreasing the burden on servers associated with managing and maintaining application and network sessions, as well as by performing application-specific tasks.

Load balancing devices are generally grouped into two categories: Layer 4 and Layer 7. Layer 4 load balancers act upon data found in network and transport layer protocols (IP, TCP, FTP, UDP). Layer 7 load balancers distribute requests based upon data found in application layer protocols such as HTTP.

Requests are received by both types of load balancers and they are distributed to a particular server based on a configured algorithm. Some industry standard algorithms are:

  • Round robin
  • Weighted round robin
  • Least connections
  • Least response time

Layer 7 load balancers can further distribute requests based on application specific data such as HTTP headers, cookies, or data within the application message itself, such as the value of a specific parameter.

Load balancers ensure reliability and availability by monitoring the "health" of applications and only sending requests to servers and applications that can respond in a timely manner.

A Network Load Balancer makes routing decisions at the transport layer (TCP/SSL). Whereas, an Application Load Balancer makes routing decisions at the application layer (HTTP/HTTPS), supports path-based routing, and can route requests to one or more ports on each container instance in your cluster. Application Load Balancers also support dynamic host port mapping.


GCP (Google Cloud Product) Load Balancer:


Cloud Load Balancing allows you to put your resources behind a single IP address that is externally accessible or internal to your Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) network.

By using Cloud Load Balancing, you can serve content as close as possible to your users on a system that can respond to over one million queries per second.

Cloud Load Balancing is a fully distributed, software-defined managed service. It isn't hardware-based, so you don't need to manage a physical load balancing infrastructure.

Google Cloud offers the following load balancing features:

  • Single IP address to serve as the frontend
  • Automatic intelligent autoscaling of your backends
  • External load balancing for when your users reach your applications from the internet
  • Internal load balancing for when your clients are inside of Google Cloud
  • Regional load balancing for when your applications are available in a single region
  • Global load balancing for when your applications are available across the world
  • Pass-through load balancing (see also direct server return (DSR) or direct routing)
  • Proxy-based load balancing (as an alternative to pass-through)
  • Layer 4-based load balancing to direct traffic based on data from network and transportlayer protocols, such as IP address and TCP or UDP port
  • Layer 7-based load balancing to add content-based routing decisions based on attributes, such as the HTTP header and the uniform resource identifier
  • Integration with Cloud CDN for cached content delivery


Amazon ELB (Elastic Load Balancer):


Elastic Load Balancing automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple targets, such as Amazon EC2 instances, containers, IP addresses, Lambda functions, and virtual appliances. It can handle the varying load of your application traffic in a single Availability Zone or across multiple Availability Zones. Elastic Load Balancing offers four types of load balancers that all feature the high availability, automatic scaling, and robust security necessary to make your applications fault tolerant.

There are several ways to get started with the Elastic Load Balancing. You can set up an Application Load Balancer, Network Load Balancer, or Gateway Load Balancer with APIs, AWS Command Line Interfaces (CLI), or through the AWS Management Console.

When you use Elastic Load Balancing with Auto Scaling, you can build highly available, fault-tolerant applications which automatically scale capacity up or down based on fluctuations in demand.


Microsoft Azure Load Balancer:


With built-in application load balancing for cloud services and virtual machines, you can create highly-available and scalable applications in minutes. Azure Load Balancer supports TCP/UDP-based protocols such as HTTP, HTTPS, and SMTP, and protocols used for real-time voice and video messaging applications.

Azure Load Balancer automatically scales with increasing application traffic. Without you needing to reconfigure or manage it, your applications provide a better customer experience.

  • Instantly add scale to your applications
  • Load balance Internet and private network traffic
  • Improve application reliability via health checks
  • Flexible NAT rules for better security
  • Directly integrated into virtual machines and cloud services
  • Native IPv6 support


BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager:


BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager manages network traffic so applications are always fast, available, and secure.

Keep your apps up and running with BIG-IP application delivery controllers. BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) and BIG-IP DNS handle your application traffic and secure your infrastructure. You’ll get built-in security, traffic management, and performance application services, whether your applications live in a private data center or in the cloud.


Nginx Plus:


Modern app infrastructure and dev teams love NGINX Plus. More than just the fastest web server around, NGINX Plus brings you everything you love about NGINX Open Source, adding enterprise‑grade features like high availability, active health checks, DNS system discovery, session persistence, and a RESTful API.

NGINX Plus is a cloud native, easy-to-use reverse proxy, load balancer, and API gateway. Whether you need to integrate advanced monitoring, strengthen security controls, or orchestrate Kubernetes containers, NGINX Plus delivers with the five‑star support you expect from NGINX.


Nginx Web Server:


Nginx is a high performance web server for Linux based platforms. Although the primary function of Nginx is to provide web service, but you can also configure it as a software load balancer.

See Also: Configure Nginx as HTTP Load Balancer in CentOS / RHEL


Apache Web Server:


Apache is the most commonly used web server for PHP based applications. Apache web server software provides the features to configure it as a software load balancer.

See Also: Configure Apache as HTTP Load Balancer in CentOS / RHEL


HAProxy Load Balancer:


HAProxy is a free, very fast and reliable solution offering high availability, load balancing, and proxying for TCP and HTTP-based applications. It is particularly suited for very high traffic web sites and powers quite a number of the world's most visited ones. Over the years it has become the de-facto standard opensource load balancer, is now shipped with most mainstream Linux distros, and is often deployed by default in cloud platforms.

See Also: Install HAProxy Load Balancer on CentOS / RHEL


Varnish Cache Load Balancer:


Varnish Cache is a web application accelerator also known as a caching HTTP reverse proxy. You install it in front of any server that speaks HTTP and configure it to cache the contents. Varnish Cache is really, really fast. It typically speeds up delivery with a factor of 300 - 1000x, depending on your architecture.

See Also: Install Varnish Cache Load Balancer on CentOS / RHEL


KEMP LoadMaster Load Balancer:


Kemp load balancers provide a complete high-performance application delivery solution with SSL offload, content switching, URL rewriting and compression in a secure and highly-available platform that is easily deployed and managed.

Provide additional protection with user pre-authentication, Web Application Firewall (WAF) and Single Sign-on (SSO).

Manage traffic with GSLB (Global Server Load Balancing) for disaster recovery, hybrid cloud and multi-site environments.

Simplify L4/L7 load balancing with pre-defined application templates that make it easy to configure and manage.

See Also: KEMP Technologies LoadMaster 3000


Citrix ADC:


Citrix ADC is the most comprehensive application delivery and load balancing solution for monolithic and microservices-based applications. Which means you can deliver a better user experience, on any device—anywhere.

See Also: Basic Setup and Securing of Citrix NetScaler ADC


A10 Load Balancing Solution:


A10 server load balancing solutions will help you meet availability demands, ensure security, and enhance user experience in today’s application-centric world.

With the rise in user mobility and demand, application service infrastructures no longer reside in data centers alone. Modern apps are increasingly housed in public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds, forcing application traffic management to evolve for better user experience.

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