Load Balancing & The New User Experience

Most people don't spend a lot of time on the nuances of load balancing but if you're responsible for managing or optimizing the digital experience of a company or brand it could prove useful to understand what they are, how they work, and why they are such an integral part of building a better Web presence.  

A load balancer is a device that distributes network or application traffic (any workload and computing resource really) across several servers, increasing the number of concurrent users (the capacity) that can be supported. Load balancers use various algorithms (e.g., Round Robin) to distribute the traffic or workload based on the number of requests being managed at a particular server or the amount of latency.

The end result, in general, is that online businesses can provide a more reliable experience to their users. The increased scalability, redundancy, performance and flexibility in general that come with applying best of breed approaches to load balancing can dramatically help improve a business's' digital experiences (they are faster in general) and there are some exciting solutions emerging. 

Fastly's Layer 7 Load Balancer, for example, is an infrastructure agnostic solution designed for companies looking to more efficiently manage traffic across multiple infrastructure-as-a-service providers, data centers and hybrid-clouds, making it possible for companies to auto-scale their applications without modifying existing infrastructure.

Fastly customers, including content discovery and advertising platform Outbrain (which serves 250 billion native ads to over 550 million unique visotrs each month), will be able to route traffic based on various request aspects such as geographic location, language, cookies, device type or HTTP headers. 

Another interesting feature of the new Fastly load balancer is that it provides visibility into traffic patterns through real-time log streaming. That is useful for those instances when trying to determine what might be driving a poor user experience. 

"In today's modern web economy, the most successful businesses are hyperfocused on customer loyalty," said Tyler McMullen, CTO at Fastly. "Delivering reliable, secure, and scalable experiences is the first, and most critical, step to earning that loyalty; over 1,000 brands are currently load balancing with Fastly to ensure optimal performance."