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Balance traffic intelligently by leveraging Application Layer (Layer 7) and DNS Layer (Layer 3) logic

Gaining new customers and retaining existing ones is at the core of every business. In the past few years, two major trends have emerged in this drive towards customer centricity

  • To meet the ever increasing customer demands, most modern digital applications leverage microservice architecture to achieve scalability, agility and reduce time to market. These are ideal for DevOps teams that need continuous deployment workflows. But all this comes at a price, as it increases the complexity of these applications.
  • Many companies are adopting public cloud platforms for their growing infrastructure needs for cost efficiency, agility, scalability and global distribution to serve their customers more easily. But cloud adoption has its own challenges. As you move applications and workloads to the cloud, there must be thoughtful consideration for what supporting services to keep on-premises, what to take with you, and what to replace entirely with a cloud service.

Load balancing is an example of such a supporting service. You need a robust load balancer that maximizes availability, scalability and performance and meets the needs of your complex applications. Load balancing done wrong can even sink the customer experience ship.

Load Balancing Fig1.png

Some companies use on-premise hardware based load balancers, but they are not designed for front-end heavy digital applications or cloud technologies. They are not scalable and are expensive. Gartner notes that the range of use cases and requirements for load balancing technology has undergone a noticeable shift, as work styles have evolved to focus on software accessibility and standard, simpler feature sets, rather than the monolithic load balancing platforms that dominated traditional deployments. To get the most scalability and availability, you need to consider a cloud based load balancer.

Most cloud providers offer their own load balancing solutions, but there are a few things to consider to ensure the solution is right for your business and your applications. For example:

Some cloud provider load balancers utilize DNS layer (layer 3) to balance traffic:

  • This approach is optimal for use cases such as balancing loads based on IP addresses or geography.
  • But they fall short of the expectations of modern applications that need routing based on HTTP (Application Layer i.e. Layer 7) attributes such as specific URLs or actions in the user journey.

Many cloud provider solutions are platform-specific:

  • These solutions are great for balancing traffic on the same cloud platform, where all of the decisions are handled without accessing another provider or your own datacenters.

  • But most architectures today require a hybrid approach - using a mix of cloud and on-premise solutions, or multiple cloud providers - which in turn requires load balancers that can work seamlessly in hybrid environments for operational simplicity.

Your applications and cloud adoption have their own complexities. Akamai has designed a solution that is intended to deal with those complexities and simplify your traffic management.

With Application Load Balancer you can balance traffic across any combination of data sources - both cloud based and on-premise. Since it leverages the Akamai Cloud Delivery Platform, you get the availability, scalability and performance needed to ensure best possible user experiences.

We have built Application Load Balancer specifically for digital applications. It is cloud based and leverages both application layer (Layer 7) and DNS layer (Layer 3) logic, that gives you granular control to balance traffic based on HTTP attributes (cookie value, url path, query string) using weighted and performance based methods. Here are some common use cases, including:

Session Stickiness:

  • In retail, many customers will place items into their shopping carts, and then continue shopping.  To ensure that customers do not lose access to these items, sticky sessions maintain the user's session on the same backend servers for the duration of their session.

  • Application Load Balancer provides you several options for session stickiness, for example, you can set an expiration date for sticky sessions or keep them on permanently. All this can be done with just a few clicks, which makes Application Load Balancer a great fit for any company that does online transactions.  

Routing based on URL:

  • Your backend infrastructure may have data centers or servers that are tuned for specific content types or use cases.
  • For example, traffic to webpages that contain videos could be directed to a data center that is highly optimized for video delivery and traffic to your webstore could be directed to another data center that is optimized for fast checkout process.

Load Balancing Fig2.png

Application Load Balancer is also valuable to maintaining business continuity, providing near instant failover by directing requests to an alternate origin location when there is a failure at the primary origin location. This can be configured across disparate network carriers, public cloud providers, or on-premise environments - giving you a single load balancer to support any hybrid cloud configuration - now and into the future.

With Application Load Balancer, you get the scalability needed to meet any traffic demands - whether planned or unplanned. Thus whether you are dealing with Black Friday traffic or an unexpected DDoS attack, you can be rest assured that your customers will have superior user experiences.

In addition to this, Application Load Balancer ensures high performance by directing traffic to the best available data center by analyzing Internet traffic conditions in real time and avoiding congestion points and outages.

Want to reduce costs and maintenance headaches, while ensuring high scalability, reliability and performance? Try out Application Load balancer free for 60 days! 

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