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Rackspace Introduces Cloud Load Balancers
By: Terri Wells
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    Webmasters challenged by load balancing issues just gained a new option. Rackspace, a managed and cloud hosting provider, unveiled its Cloud Load Balancers offering this week. Meant for use with the web host's cloud hosting, dedicated, and managed server offerings, Cloud Load Balancers reduces the barriers to entry of running a software-based load balancer.

    The offering was in private beta for three months and public beta for another three months before release. Jerry Schwartz, enterprise services product manager at Rackspace, noted that the lengthy beta period gave the company a lot of time to get customer feedback on the product, much of which went into the development of its final version. “We've tried to make it very easy to use,” he explained.

    The advantages of using Cloud Load Balancers over a conventional load balancing solution seem pretty clear. With “a software load balancer...you have to manage another cloud server, which includes configuration, management and patching. It makes it far more difficult and less cost-effective,” Schwartz observed. Cloud load balancing eliminates concerns such as the need to manage an additional operating system or consider the network capacity of a cloud server. “[W]e believe that load balancing is really a fundamental component of hosting applications on the cloud,” said Schwartz.

    There are two main uses for load balancing in the cloud environment, according to Schwartz. If your website is growing quickly, and you need to share its traffic between multiple cloud servers, load balancing can help. It can also help if you run mission critical web applications that simply can't go down, but are used by a lot of people all at once. Such applications need to stay up even if individual components of your architecture fail. In this case, load balancing can help by switching the load to a server that can handle the extra traffic.

    Rackspace built its Cloud Load Balancers offering on solutions from Zeus Technology. It features static IP addresses, built-in functions for high availability,  a broad range of supported protocols and algorithms, access through both API and control panel, and session persistence.

    Rackspace spokesman Jim Battenberg believes that his company's offering is superior to Amazon's Elastic Load Balancing, launched seven months ago. Amazon's offering limits users to round-robin load balancing, which can force customers to build their entire architecture around the load balancer's specific way of handling traffic. Users of Rackspace's Cloud Load Balancers solution, on the other hand, can choose between round robin, weighted round robin, least traffic, weighted least traffic, random and other algorithms for balancing load. These options, Battenberg explained, will allow customers to use the algorithm that works best for the way they've constructed their application.

    Rackspace offers Cloud Load Balancers on a pay-as-you go basis. Each instance of load balancing costs 1.5 cents per hour, plus another 1.5 cents per hour for each 100 concurrent connections.

    For more on this topic, visit http://www.thewhir.com/web-hosting-news/041911_Cloud_Host_Rackspace_Launches_Cloud_Load_Balancers_Offering.

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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