ADCs, the Next Generation Load Balancers
Applications are the lifeblood of enterprise operations and many are so critical that any small issue can
lead to business disruption and limited productivity. Hence, it is highly necessary to ensure that the
applications must cost-effectively scale without sacrificing reliability or the end-user experience. That is
where server load balancing comes useful. Wikipedia defines load balancing as "a computer
networking method to distribute workload across multiple computers or a computer cluster, network
links, central processing units, disk drives, or other resources, to achieve optimal resource utilization,
maximize throughput, minimize response time, and avoid overload."
Server load balancing ensures application performance by providing scalability and high availability for
applications, web sites and cloud services by monitoring the health of servers, evenly distributing loads
across servers and maintaining session persistence and a seamless user experience in the event that one
or more servers become overburdened or unresponsive.
However, the advent of virtualization, public and private clouds, the explosion in mobile traffic and the
move towards new standards including IPv6 and 2048-bit encryption, has led to a shift in demand. The
demand is for a new solution that offers much more than simple server load balancing and that comes
armed with a richer feature set, increased functionality and greater focus on effective application
delivery. According to Gartner "The era of load balancing is long past, and organizations will be better
served to focus their attention on improving the delivery of applications."
Hence, they wanted a solution that provided performance and scalability in line with the demands of
mobile and cloud computing and the agility to extract maximum efficiency and ROI from application
infrastructure. This led to the evolution of application delivery controllers (ADCs). Regarded as "next-
generation load balancers", application delivery controllers help enterprises and service providers to
address challenges in the areas of application and cloud service delivery. According to Gartner, "ADCs
provide a set of functions to optimize enterprise application environments. The market evolved from the
load-balancing systems that were specifically developed to ensure the availability and scalability of
websites. Enterprises use ADCs to optimize reliability, end-user performance, data center resource use
and security for a variety of enterprise applications."
Compared to server load balancing solutions that perform a basic set of functions, such as load
balancing, basic health checks, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) offload processing and so on, ADCs offer
features such as compression, cache, connection multiplexing, content manipulation, application layer
security, advanced routing strategies, SSL offload, and content switching combined with basic server
load balancing and highly configurable server health monitoring.
Thus, application delivery controllers combine cutting-edge performance and scalability with
transformative features to deliver unmatched value and ROI as compared to alternative solutions.
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