In order to get started we need to first define some terminology as it applies to this service:

  • The load balancer is a logical grouping of listeners on one or more virtual ip addresses (VIP).

  • A listener is the listening endpoint of a load balanced service. It requires port and protocol information but not an IP address.

  • The pool is associated with a listener and is responsible for grouping the members which receive the client requests forwarded by the listener.

  • A member is a single server or service. It can only be associated with a single pool.

  • As members may go offline it is possible to use health monitors to detect their state and divert traffic away from members that are not responding properly. Health monitors are associated with a pool.

High availability

The load balancer service is highly available by default. Two software load balancer instances are clustered using VRRP, allowing them to fail-over connections between the load balancers in around five seconds.

Load balancing algorithms

The following load balancing algorithms are available and can be used to decide the behaviour of the load balancer:

  • Round Robin The algorithm chooses the server sequentially in the list. Once it reaches the end of the server, the algorithm forwards the new request to the first server in the list.

  • Source This algorithm selects the server based on the source IP address using the hash to connect it to the matching server.

  • Least Connection algorithm This algorithm selects the server with the fewest active transactions and then forwards the user request to the back end.

Layer 4 vs Layer 7

Load balancers are typically grouped into two categories: Layer 4 or Layer 7, which correspond to the layers of the OSI model. The Layer 4 type act upon data such as IP, TCP, UDP which are protocols found in the network and transport layers whereas the Layer 7 type act upon requests that contain data from application layer protocols such as HTTP.