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Businesses today rely heavily on information technology, from automated production in the manufacturing process to shared data and resources in the office, and even through to websites or online shops. As a business grows, resources can be stretched which may impact productivity. At this stage, it only makes sense to add more resources to meet the demand; that can mean the hiring of more staff, the purchasing of more equipment, the expansion of premises and changes in the way the business uses computers and the internet. This where load balancing comes in.

In simple terms, this is done by taking the work that one computer would do and distributing that work between two or more computers so that efficiency and productivity can be increased. Load balancing can be done using software, hardware or a combination of both depending on the needs of a business. It’s a common strategy by businesses which offer online purchases, whose websites have a high volume of traffic. If one server was used, the volume of traffic could be such that visitors to the website could find the website slow to load at best or may not be even to see the website at all if the server crashes. For example, 40% of people will abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load, while a delay of 1 second can cause a 7% loss in conversion.

By sharing the traffic among multiple servers, the business can make sure that there is no disruption to guests visiting their website and potentially losing out on the custom that these visitors can generate. Because load balancing uses more than one server, it is typically combined with services that prevent failure such as backup and failover protection. One way this can help is by having servers in multiple geographic locations so if for example there is a power failure in one location there is still at least one other available.

It is not only in that way that load balancing can benefit a business. Load balancing has the added ability to making scaling up much easier simply by adding more servers as needed either locally or online. Load balancing systems are highly programmable, allowing a business to customise how traffic is routed to and from the servers, which is hugely beneficial when it comes to security as well as efficiency. For example, if your business is only using one server to host its website and that server falls foul of a malicious cyber-attack, then your whole website could be down until the problem is resolved. On the contrary, having your website running from multiple servers can help keep the website up and running whilst the attack is being neutralised.

In late 2016, a series of DDoS attacks from a botnet engulfed the internet connections of Dyn, a DNS provider for companies such as Twitter, Spotify and Amazon. The attack came in three waves lasting hours and affected over 150 websites. According to the CEO of Dynatrace, a company that monitored the attacks, up to $110 million was lost in sales. One way of fighting against these types of multi-pronged attacks is to use a layered or multi-dimensional defence model. This model incorporates multiple defence solutions or protection methods in different points in the network. The way this works is that if an attacker penetrates one level of defence or exploits a weakness or flaw in the first layer, then the second layer can compensate with a different form of protection and so on with the subsequent layers of defence. This is where load balancers excel as they are built to work within a network with layered security.

With the advent of cloud computing and the promise it holds for the future of Information Technology, load balancers can also help prepare the business world utilise cloud computing effectively and securely. The obvious benefit of this is that the business can operate at all times, which can be very important if the business trades internationally working with clients in multiple locations in today’s global market.


 
 
 

 
 

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