One egg, many baskets

How load balancing is helping deliver on the promise of application virtualization.

From systems and storage to networks, virtually every nook and cranny of the IT environment these days is being virtualized. Applications, of course, are no exception, and for good reason. By isolating applications from the underlying operating system and from other applications, then streaming them from a centralized location into an isolated environment on a laptop or other target device to be executed, virtualization makes it a snap to run applications on different computers – not to mention, previously incompatible applications can now be run side by side.

In other words, application virtualization is a game changer in terms of increasing compatibility and manageability. It also:

  • uses fewer resources and saves hardware and software costs
  • simplifies operating systems migrations
  • accelerates application deployment through on-demand application streaming
  • improves security by isolating applications from OS
  • simplifies license usage tracking

Optimizing application performance and ensuring security.

But of course, as with almost any technology such as this, application virtualization has its own set of potential pitfalls, a big one being that by removing applications from the physical device and having them reside on an application server somewhere, you run the risk of that server becoming a single point of failure when, say, too many users try to access the application at the same time or a nasty application-layer bug infects the server and wreaks havoc across your organization. In other words, the old too-many-eggs-in-one-basket dilemma.

Load balancing helps mitigate those sorts of risks by intelligently and dynamically distributing and optimizing incoming traffic among servers hosting the same application content. By balancing application requests across multiple servers, particularly during a surge in traffic, load balancing prevents that single point of failure nightmare scenario and ensures that virtualized applications are always available and responsive. Load balancing even monitors the health, or availability, of servers so as to avoid sending request to servers that are overloaded or unable to respond. It’s also a pretty straightforward way to scale out an application server infrastructure when the time comes so that, as application demand increases, new servers can be easily added to the resource pool and load balancing can automatically start sending traffic to them in an orderly, dependable way.

Load balancing has become so important to the efficient functioning of virtualized environments that the technology has evolved into more powerful solutions commonly called Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs). In addition to their impressive load balancing capabilities ADCs also include useful functionality like data compression, content caching, application firewall security and application performance monitoring.

Related Post: Load Balancing and a whole lot more.

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About Jonathan White

Jonathan is a solutions architect within the Enterprise Architect Group at Softchoice. His main focus is to help customers define and design virtualization solutions.