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What is a load balancing algorithm and how does it work?

How many types of load balancing algorithms there are, and does each algorithm work? Well, let’s see…

A load balancer is a type of software or hardware device that prevents a server from becoming overloaded. A load balancing algorithm is the logic used by the load balancer to distribute network traffic between multiple servers. But how many types of load balancing algorithms there are, and does each algorithm work? Well, let’s see…

What are the different types of load balancing algorithms?

There are two primary approaches to load balancing, dynamic load balancing and static load balancing.

  • Dynamic load balancing – Uses algorithms that consider the current state of each server and distribute traffic accordingly.
  • Static load balancing – Distributes traffic without making these adjustments. Some static algorithms send an equal amount of traffic to each server in a group, either in a specified order or at random.

How does each algorithm work?

Dynamic load balancing algorithms:

  • Least connection – Checks which servers have the least connections open at the time and sends traffic to them. Assumes that all connections require equal processing power.
  • Weighted least connection – Allows admins to assign different weights to each server, assuming some can handle more connections that others.
  • Weighted response time – Calculates the average response time of each server and combines that with how many connections each server has open, determining where traffic should be sent. The algorithm ensures the fastest service for users by sending traffic to the servers with the quickest response time.
  • Resource-based – Distributes load based on the resources available in each server. The load balancer queries a specialized software (called an “agent”), before doing the distribution.

Static load balancing algorithms:

  • Round Robin –Distributes traffic to a list of servers in rotation using DNS.
  • Weighted round robin – Allows admins to assign different weights to each server. Servers able to handle more traffic will then receive it. Weighting can be configured with DNS records.
  • IP hash – Combines the incoming traffic’s sources and destination IP addresses and converts it into a hash through a mathematical function. The connection is assigned to a specific server based on the hash.

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