Apr 09, 2012

What is a good choice for a hardware load balancer?

We have been using software load balancers for load balancing between servers used for web hosting, but with mixed results. While we have seen the benefits of speed increases, stability has been less than optimal. My question is two part: Do hardware load balancers generally offer better stability than software, and what hardware load balancers have you found to be the most effective and reliable?

You might want to check out this article, it covers some of the best load balancing hardware:


"Best Load Balancing Hardware: A load balancing hardware is a device utilized for splitting the amount of network loads across different servers, somewhat the same way a software load balancer is used. It controls computers to respective servers in a network, built on conditions such as utilization of server processor, the number of server connections, and the total server capability. By using a load balancing hardware, one can reduce network downtime, effectively manage traffic prioritization, apply end-to-end application monitoring, supply user authentication, and provide protection or security against malicious attacks.

Load balancing works by sending network traffic to a shared IP (often called virtual IP or VIP), which is an address connected to the load balancer. The load balancer will decide on where to send the request from the VIP. The decision making is usually administered by a load balancing method or strategy, a server health check, and a rule set (in the case of a next generation device). The request is then sent to the associated server and will response if successful. The response will be relayed either back to the load balancer or straight back to the end-user relying on the kind of the device."

A10 Networks' AX series has a good reputation for stability, and A10 has been in business for a long time, and they also has a good reputation for customer service.  We use an AX 1030, and it has been great.  It supports IPv6, which I would insist upon if I were buying a hardware platform.  It ran around $20K, by the way.  There are other choices, but I would give A10 a good look. 

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