Microsoft Windows is associated with a variety of different applications, many of which can benefit dramatically from the use of load balancing technology. Load balancers can provide significant improvements in terms of responsiveness, speed, and overall performance. But this leaves many wondering “How can I load balance Windows applications?” and “What’s the process for Windows app load balancing?”
Load balancing can be deployed for any server-reliant technology, which opens the door on numerous Windows apps including — but not limited to — Microsoft Azure, Azure Stack, SharePoint, ADFS, and System Center VMM (also known as SCVMM). It is also possible to load balance other Microsoft Windows infrastructure and components, such as the Always On VPN.
Many use the Windows DirectAccess server array as the basis of their load balancing architecture. But there are a number of other options available for the numerous Windows apps.
The Advantages of Load Balancing Windows Applications
By taking the time to deploy a load balancer for your Windows applications, you’ll enjoy a broad variety of benefits. Load balancers work by intercepting incoming server traffic at a centralized hub server — the load balancer. This server evaluates the incoming server client requests and then distributes them to servers in a server pool according to a prescribed formula, also known as a load balancing algorithm.
This process results in greater speed and reliability since you won’t have a large cluster of server requests overwhelming a single server. Server overload can result in slowness or even crashes that result in that ever-dreaded downtime.
Many load balancing systems also perform server “health checks” prior to dispatching client requests. If a server is queried for a health check and the hub server detects an issue, that server will be flagged for maintenance and temporarily removed from the server pool. This server health check process improves user experience by dramatically reducing the number of error messages that tend to arise when a server is malfunctioning or otherwise askew.
Geographic load balancing involves calling upon load balancing infrastructure in data centers that are situated in a variety of different geographic locations. By distributing load balancers across a vast distance, you effectively reduce the risk that a single event such as a natural disaster, power outage, or other adverse event will affect your technology. If one data center’s load balancers go offline, the system will route incoming server requests to the next closest and unaffected data center. This form of load balancing ensures that mission critical systems remain online, even when adverse events occur. This Windows app load balancing option is also suitable for backup and recovery.
The Options for Load Balancing Windows Applications
The exact process for load balancing applications for Windows will vary somewhat from app to app. Here is a look at the options for implementing load balancing for Windows applications.
- In-Built Load Balancing – In most cases, there is an in-built load balancing solution available for the diverse range of Windows applications. In these cases, it is usually a matter of logging into the admin portal or application management panel where the load balancer can be activated and configured to suit the user’s needs. The in-built load balancers tend to be rather easy to implement and deploy, although the configuration options tend to be far more limited than what you may find with a third-party load balancing service. As such, there may be cases where the in-built Windows load balancers may not be suitable, resulting in the need for a third-party solution.
- Third-Party Load Balancers – Third-party load balancing options abound, there is no shortage of options when it comes to this load balancer option for Windows applications. There are many different third-party load balancers available with a vast array of different configuration options. Implementation and deployment tends to be a bit more challenging when compared to the in-built Windows load balancers, but these third-party solutions are a suitable option when a Windows application has load balancing needs that cannot be met with the available in-built technology.
- On-Prem Load Balancing – The third and perhaps least commonly-used option is an on-premises load balancer. These load balancers are hosted in your own data center, providing advanced controls for security, amongst other things. Due to the costs associated with maintaining your own data center, on-premises load balancing for Windows applications is rarely the best option. But in cases where a company already maintains a data center or has unique load balancing needs that simply cannot be met by an in-built Windows load balancer or a third-party load balancer service, an on-prem load balancer may represent the ideal solution.
The version of your Windows application also plays a role and must be considered when selecting a load balancer. In some cases, users may be best served by a migration to the latest version of a Windows application since some load balancing options and configurations — particularly the in-built LBs — are only available for the most current app versions.
Choosing and Deploying Windows Application Load Balancing
There are many different types of load balancers, including software load balancers, application load balancers, and network load balancers to name a few. To make the load balancing landscape even more complex, service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) offer a number of elastic load balancers that scale and adjust in order to accommodate ever-changing server workload and demand.
Finding the right third-party platform to load balance Windows applications can be a challenge due to the numerous types of load balancers and algorithms. For this reason, it is important to seek out a service provider that can provide consultation to ensure that a specific load balancer will meet your needs, whether you are seeking to load balance Azure, SharePoint, a Windows Server or another Windows app.
In cases where an organization requires a third-party load balancing service for a Windows application, the team at Resonate is available to assist. We provide reliable, cost-effective, scalable, and high-performance load balancers that can be used in conjunction with a variety of different Windows apps, amongst other technologies. Simply contact the Resonate team to discuss your needs and we’ll help you find the best load balancer for your Windows application or other server-reliant platform.