The Role of WAN Clustering in Load Balancing

Posted by Stefanie Kober Wed, 18 Jun 2014 13:08:00 GMT

In one of our last blog posts, we introduced the concept of WAN clustering (the use of multiple redundant computing resources housed in different geographical locations that form, what appears to be, a single, highly-available system), and its role in disaster recovery and business continuity. Part II takes a deeper dive into WAN clustering and its role in load balancing.

The Need for Load Balancing
In the Internet Age, the networking (connecting) of enterprise IT infrastructure to its customers or suppliers has become mission critical. Data centers full of server farms were created by the proliferation of servers for diverse applications. The complexity and challenges in scalability, manageability, and availability of server farms is one driving factor behind the need for intelligent switching. It is unacceptable for a network to fail or exhibit poor performance, as either will virtually shut down a business in the Internet economy. In order to ensure scalability and high availability for all components, load balancing emerged as a powerful tool to solve many of the issues associated with network failure and poor performance.

Load balancing is the division of computer/server/network workload amongst two or more computers/servers. Load balancing can be implemented with hardware, software or a combination of both.

In the case of load balancing Web traffic, there are several options. For Web serving, one option is to route each request to a different server host address in a domain name system (DNS) using the round-robin technique. Usually, if two servers are used to balance a work load, a third server is needed to determine to which server work is assigned. Another option is to distribute the servers over different geographic locations.

Benefits of Load Balancing
This technique offers a number of important benefits, including increased network utilization and maximized throughput; minimizing the load on individual systems and decreasing response time; improved user satisfaction, reliability and scalability.

Generally, load balancing is the primary reason IT teams opt for a clustering architecture. Companies whose websites receive large volumes of traffic also commonly select clustering architecture, so as to avoid a situation where a single server becomes overwhelmed. Workload balancing of cluster servers facilitates the system to attain optimum performance, resulting in faster data access. 

Additionally, the process also prevents failover, which occurs when a user cannot access a database in a cluster, due either to inability to access the database itself or inability to access the database server. 

VPN Technology
Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology is also critical to an effective load balancing strategy. A fast, safe and secure transfer of critical business data among servers optimizes the user experience, while simultaneously giving employees/users anytime, anywhere access to critical information.

As implementation of web applications grows and user bases become more geographically diverse, load balancing becomes increasingly less of an option, and more of a requirement in IT planning and provisioning. Load balancing enables organizations to run uninterrupted operations when WAN clustering is supported by reliable, well-managed VPNs.

If you would like to learn more about WAN clustering, and explore how VPNs can help you to create an optimal WAN clustering solution for your needs, download this free eBook:
Effective WAN Clustering Relies on High-Quality VPNs

Author: Hazel Farrugia

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