The Load Balancer Router was born from a need to correct the less than perfect Internet access that ISP (Internet Service Providers) provide. For one reason or another, an ISP Internet connection is never perfect. Some times the reason is the transport technology not being mature (remember the early DSL days?), some times it is related to poor infrastructure, some times it is misconfiguration, some times it is cross-traffic / work load in the backend or some times it is simply an unexpected event (such as construction cutting off a line). No matter the source, Internet reliability can’t be perfect unless you engineer the reliability into your network. This may not be a necessity for your home Internet, but for your office network, a load balancer router was the answer.
Legacy load balancer routers had the ability to use two or more WAN links and spread the Internet flows coming in from the LAN side of the network over the several WAN links. Over time, load balancing algorithms evolved to include weighted round robin and others until Broadband Bonding and SD-WAN brought a new perspective to load balancer router implementations.
Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SDWAN) and Broadband Bonding brought a fresh and brand-new approach to load balancer routers. With the ability to create overlay tunnels, i.e. VNFs (Virtual Network Functions), the load balancer router was now able to make per packet routing decisions as well as perform pre-routing and/or post-routing processing of the packets to optimize the connectivity.
As an example, through VNFs such as our VOIP Armor, a load balancer router is capable of sending a VOIP packet over the WAN link that optimizes the MOS (Mean Opinion Score) for the VOIP call, and further, protecting the up-time of that flow by being able to switch path mid-stream. Similarly being able to spread packets over multiple WAN links result in true Broadband Bonding for the load balancer router the ability to utilize the sum of all the available bandwidth, even for single flows.
So from an end-user perspective, what does this mean to you? In other words, how does having an SD-WAN enabled load balancer router impact the end-user experience? The answer is 4 fold:
- If you have many branch locations that the load balancer router will be used, there is great news: installation, management and monitoring of the devices are significantly easier, more automated and more hassle-free than ever before.
- If you have special traffic types such as VOIP, video conferencing, other real-time applications, cloud based chatty applications, or large file transfers, you can easily configure your load balancer router to have the applications optimized over the WAN network for performance and reliability.
- Down-time and unscheduled urgent support tickets are few and far between. ISP related networking problems can be shielded from your applications and can be dealt with in a maintenance schedule that fits your business and your team.
- Cost savings – in a majority of the locations, you will be able to bring in different flavors of ISP links (cable, fiber, DSL) with various performance and cost associated. By intelligently managing traffic flows over these ISP resources, it is quite easy and therefore can bring the effective cost-per-bit down compared to a similar SLA single carrier transport.
It is fair to say that SDWAN and Broadband Bonding have reinvented load balancer routers and how WANs are managed for businesses.
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.