Are Internet Load Balancers Here to Stay? Two Opposing Arguments, You Decide

Where are Internet load balancer going strategicallyWhy and when do you need more than one of something? For example, if you need storage, would you not go for a single storage device that has enough capacity versus a RAID based storage solution where several storage devices are brought together with an intelligence layer that manages the storage devices to present a single interface to the higher layers?

Similarly, why would you need more than one computing core in a CPU? Shouldn’t you go for a single-core CPU that is fast enough for your needs, or should you consider a multi-core CPU where the cores are intelligently managed?

One can easily see where I am going with this: if you need more bandwidth, shouldn’t you simply get a faster Internet connection from your service provider and not care about having more than one Internet connection?

One argument is that if the service provider has the ability to fit the quality of service, reliability and target value price points, there should never be a need for a secondary Internet line for connectivity to the Internet.

Yes, in theory, that argument makes sense. But how about the observations that support the counter point, i.e. why have the RAID based storage solutions, multi-core CPUs and multi-WAN Internet load balancers turned out to be the winners throughout the technology trends, compared to their single resource counterparts such as non-RAID, single-core, single WAN technologies? The answer lies in the fact that when the ultimate objective is to get high performance, high reliability at a lower cost, to achieve the better value proposition, technologies that intelligently combine and optimize underlying resources seem to have enjoyed the upper hand over unsophisticated single-source approaches.

In other words, not needing a secondary WAN resource But is a much over-simplified argument, and when practical, real-world issues are considered, the situation changes dramatically. ISPs do not have absolute control of their network health and internet traffic bottlenecks and network brownouts and blackouts occur regularly. And these performance issues are completely unpredictable – so if you’re running a critical application or performing a critical file upload/download you cannot afford to rely on a single internet connection. A network load-balancer, intelligently managing traffic flow among two or more independent internet connections, seems like a no-brainer.

The fundamental question to consider is this: can you intelligently combine several of something, to get a better end result? With the wide diversity of WAN services available today, from cellular to MPLS, from DSL to fiber, from low cost best effort, to expensive dedicated services, it is not surprising that technologies that can intelligently combine these resources and cater to the specific needs of the user will always have an advantage.

Cahit Akin, CEO, Mushroom Networks, Inc. 

Mushroom Networks is the provider of SD-WAN (Software Defined WAN) and NFV solutions capable of Broadband Bonding that enables self-healing WAN networks that route around network problems such as latency, jitter and packet loss.


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