Chris Heyn

Chris Heyn is General Manager of KEMP Technologies Italy

KEMP leads the industry in driving the price/performance value proposition for application delivery and load balancing to levels that our customers can afford. Our products’ versatile and powerful architecture provide the highest value, while enabling our customers to optimize their businesses that rely on Internet-based infrastructure to conduct business with their customers, employees and partners.

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Your Company Is Too Small To Need Load Balancers, Or Is It?

Chris Heyn

May 09, 2012

5.0/5.0 (5 votes total)

I clearly remember standing outside a hosting company in Modena Italy when I received a call from a multinational European Distributor that I was trying to recruit.  Peter, the CEO, called me and said “Chris we have talked to Microsoft here in France and they say load balancing is very important -- but only if you have 2,000 employees or more!” Carefully I explained to Peter that this was a misconception based on the assumption that a single load balancer could cost at least $30,000. I concluded the call by telling him that I was stepping into a company of 90 staff members that had three load balancers and were about to buy two more at a total cost of $12,000, so perhaps his friends in Microsoft should review the market again.

Small business owners know the risk

Today, even SMB companies know that their web servers as well as their application servers are an integral part of their business. Some companies rely on web servers for their e-commerce sites; for others, the company email and unified communications systems form the lifeblood of their business. Even for SMB companies, the thought of losing access to email is even more of a danger than the loss of web content servers or the company video and audio services. Should this happen, sales teams cannot communicate with clients, purchasing departments cannot place orders and the technical support team lose its ability to support clients should the servers go down.

Is Throwing Hardware at the Problem a Solution?

One approach to deal with this problem of server failure is to buy additional, bigger and more expensive web servers, hoping that throwing server power at the problem is the solution. However, the reality is that this is the wrong road to follow.  Expert IT consultants agree that load balancers provide the power that web sites need. The load balancer provides a vital service balancing traffic across multiple servers that host a single application. If the traffic peaks steeply, the application can be overrun and then crash if the traffic cannot be diverted to servers that have spare capacity.

While load balancing is essentially a straightforward technology that should produce good results, the simplicity is belied by good planning and thorough research. Take time out to search for reliable content about planning your load balancing solutions for SMB organizations.. In sum, when you have two or more servers you should consider using load balancing. The load balancer takes on the task of deciding how the traffic should be channeled and protects each server from running the risk of being overloaded.

Virtual load balancing or appliances flexibility

You can use hardware or software based load balancers. The good news for the IT manager is that some load balancing vendors offer both solutions, such as KEMP Technologies. In some cases, the GUI and functionality of both software and hardware based load balancers is identical. Load balancers are platform and protocol independent and by their nature they are agentless. No special configuration is therefore necessary, because the load balancers are not part of the server clusters, but rather they sit in front of them. 

A quick check list before preparing to acquire and install load balancers is strongly recommended. Decide on what applications need to be load balanced and how much traffic should you expect. Make sure your network is correctly configured. Make any modifications before you implement your load balancers. Talk to your colleagues, read white papers and visit the specialist blogs. Don’t just rely on the vendors; of course their product is the best. They would say that, wouldn’t they?

Look out for vendor load balancers that address a particular application. For example if you are planning to load balance your Microsoft Exchange 2010 servers look for vendors who state that they directly address this application. Finally, one of the most important requirements for the SMB is that the load balancer vendor has a field service structure using its own staff or trained reseller technicians who can help you in planning, implementation and post-sales support.


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