Cloud load balancers have seen a rather dramatic rise in popularity in large part thanks to the surge in cloud technology adoption. Load balancers are a critical component of any reliable, well-performing IT infrastructure since they work to identify regions of especially high network traffic and then distribute those requests across multiple servers with better availability. This reduces demand on any single server, which in turn, improves performance and responsiveness.
As is the case for other forms of load balancing, cloud load balancers deliver a high level of reliability. The cloud-based nature of these load balancers also bring best-in-class scalability and improved performance, which gives this technology a leg up over non-cloud alternatives.
These advantages of cloud load balancing are appealing to be sure, but it begs the question: how much does it all cost? And does cloud load balancing bring the cost savings benefit that you tend to see when switching to other cloud technologies?
How Much Does a Cloud Load Balancer Cost?
Cloud load balancer cost is a rather difficult figure to calculate because pricing is formulaic. As such, you must have access to several variables in order to accurately determine pricing. Fortunately, most vendors offer their own calculation tools to help potential customers determine what to expect. Those who do not offer a calculation tool usually offer individualized consultations (which are often quite comprehensive, offering a great deal of insight into what to expect.)
Load balancer cost calculators can offer a general idea of pricing, giving you a solid point of comparison for the different vendors that you are considering. Here is one example of a cloud load balancing cost calculation formula; one that is fairly representative of the industry average:
- $0.025 per hour for the first 5 forwarding rules;
- $0.010 per hour for every additional forwarding rule beyond the first 5;
- $0.008 per GB for the ingress data that is processed by the load balancer.
These vendor-specific price calculation formulas can be very helpful for determining cloud load balancer cost with a high degree of accuracy. But coming up with a price is far more challenging if you lack key figures such as GB and hour estimates. In these cases, you may need to work with the vendor to come up with a more accurate price quote — something that falls outside the realm of a vague “guesstimate.”
Notably, today’s cloud-based load balancers are offered on a SaaS type of basis, with monthly billing. And as with most cloud solutions, the customer pays for the resources they utilize — nothing more and nothing less. This pay-as-you-go approach is highly scalable and budget-friendly. It also represents a departure from the old ways which involved on-premise hardware and proprietary software that had to be purchased outright. This is one shift that has made load balancing far more economical.
What Factors Determine the Cost of Cloud Load Balancing?
The cost of a cloud load balancer varies according to a number of different factors, including the following.
The sophistication of the load balancing algorithm and software – The more advanced your technology happens to be, the higher the price tag. Algorithms and software are an area where you get what you pay for. A more sophisticated, high-quality load balancing algorithm takes time and resources to develop; this translates into a higher development cost that is subsequently passed along to the consumer.
Your choice in vendor – Each cloud load balancer developer is going to price its offerings a bit differently. When determining price, they will usually consider the overall quality of their algorithm, the cost of ongoing development and updates, along with support costs. The more reputable and mainstream vendors tend to offer more comprehensive support and updates, which are highly-desirable points to consider when choosing a cloud load balancer.
The number of available servers and traffic volume – The number of servers and the overall volume of requests will have an impact on load balancing costs. The more traffic and servers that you add to the equation, the more expensive load balancing becomes. This is true whether you have a cloud-based load balancer or a non-cloud alternative. The location also plays a factor as it relates to availability zones.
The cost of cloud load balancing is often hard to calculate because each vendor has its own unique formula. Much of the pricing is determined on an hourly basis — the number of cloud load balancer hours utilized — with other variables included in the formula such as the time of day and availability zones. On top of all this, you have different methods of load balancing to consider as part of the equation and this too will have an impact on cost.
Additionally, cloud load balancer cost is also affected by the network service tiers that are often in place. It is not uncommon to have a premium tier with a higher per-hour rate, while a lower standard tier may be more economical in terms of pricing.
Service providers may offer additional bells and whistles such as “health checks” and cloud logging. These features can and should be considered when pricing a cloud load balancer. Cloud logging, for example, documents all of the balancing requests. This data can be exported and analyzed in conjunction with server data, providing more comprehensive insights into your traffic.
One feature that you should absolutely seek in a cloud load balancer is auto-scaling. Scalability is one of the major benefits of the cloud, yet some vendors up-charge for auto-scaling. Therefore, you’ll want to determine if this is included or whether you’ll need to pay extra for the feature. Auto-scaling automates the process of allocating additional resources as demand rises; conversely, resource allocation is reduced as demand decreases. This is a major advantage because traffic surges can be difficult to manage. They happen randomly, at all times of the day or night and they can be dramatic — all while carrying a major impact on user experience. Managing this manually is difficult to say the least and auto-scaling is the ideal solution. Therefore, this is one feature that you want to be sure you have on-board. As such, you need to know whether auto-scaling is included or whether you can expect to pay an additional fee.
Finding the Right Load Balancer for Your Needs
There are many types of load balancers and numerous load balancing methods. This is one technology where there is no one-size-fits-all solution, although cloud load balancing is a great example of a one-size-fits-most option. Finding the right solution is no small task, but that is where an experienced consultant can help. Resonate offers cutting-edge load balancing solutions, including cloud load balancers, and we maintain a team of expert consultants to help advise potential clients as they seek out the right technology for their unique requirements. We invite you to contact the team at Resonate to learn more about our innovative cloud load balancing technology with a demo.