What is Load Balancer as a Service?

Load Balancer as a Service (LBaaS) is a technology wherein application and network teams can quickly spin up or down load balancers without going into the technical nitty-gritty. Load Balancer as a Service (LBaaS) abstracts the complexity involved in provisioning load balancers and presents load balancing as a readily deployable service.

Why LBaaS?

To deploy a load-balanced application traditionally, the application team raises a ticket in their ITSM tool with the server pool details. The network engineer logs into the IPAM system to get a free IP for the virtual server, logs into the ADC to make the necessary configuration changes, updates the ticket, gets approval, implements the change, and closes the ticket.

The traditional approach described above suffers from the following drawbacks:

  1. The surge in low-code application development platforms and CI/CD practices has enabled DevOps teams to develop applications at breakneck speeds. Raising hundreds of tickets a day for network engineers to provision load-balancers and the ensuing long wait-times can stagnate the business.
  2. Most enterprises use ADCs from multiple vendors and have their applications deployed in a variety of environments – on-prem, private cloud, multi-cloud, and so on. The set of procedures and parameters involved in configuring load balancers is unique for every vendor and environment, requiring specialization in each of the vendors and environments and also increases the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
  3. The above diversity in architecture leads to disjointed control and blind spots in management. Visibility and remediation become an issue.

How LBaaS platforms help overcome the above problems (technical benefits)

  1. LBaaS platforms abstract the underlying infrastructure complexity by automating load-balancer provisioning end-to-end. They use APIs to communicate with the different systems such as ITSM, IPAM, and the ADCs themselves, eliminating the need for engineers to log-in to each of these devices and configure them manually.
  2. They autofill the parameters which are unique to each deployment environment and automatically trigger provisioning workflows from APIs.
  3. As load balancer provisioning is orchestrated end-to-end, application teams can self-service load balancer provisioning and deploy it on an ad-hoc basis with minimal inputs. This reduces the reliance on network teams – helping application teams deliver applications to production much faster while dramatically bringing down network tickets – a win-win for both application and network teams.
  4. LBaaS platforms are independent of ADC vendors and environments – they support both homogeneous (single vendor, single environment) and heterogeneous deployments. This is especially beneficial for multi-cloud and hybrid environments – application and network teams can deploy load balancers for application instances across multiple environments at one go.
  5. LBaaS platforms offer a centralized management and automation pane, from where you can view, deploy, and manage load-balancers from the external cloud, internal cloud, legacy systems, etc. The platform unifies data and workflows from multiple sources – devices, monitoring systems, and tools – to provide a one-stop solution for all load-balancing needs.

Business benefits of LBaaS

  • 90% faster TTV (Time To Value) for applications (based on our customers’ data). Since the time to provision load balancers is reduced from days to minutes, applications can be brought into production much faster.
  • TCO remains constant even when your application footprint goes up. With LBaaS, application teams can self-service load-balancing, which eliminates the need for specialists. You can expand your application footprint without enlarging your workforce, thereby keeping TCO at bay.
  • Applications become more available and perform better than ever. Quick, context-aware load-balancing improves overall application performance, and availability.
  • Enterprises are not locked into a vendor or environment: Since LBaaS is platform-agnostic, enterprises have the flexibility to choose multiple vendors and deployment options, which in turn leads to greater agility.

Benefits of LBaaS over elastic load-balancing for multi-cloud environments

In load balancing, the load balancer distributes incoming application traffic across server pools according to the load balancing algorithm that’s configured on it, based on server parameters such as connection status, capacity, health, etc.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) further provides elastic load balancing (ELB) for its EC2 instances, which scales up or down resources based on application traffic.

ELB, however, is a function that is native to AWS. For other cloud services, virtual machines need to be configured separately by the traditional method described above. In a multi-cloud or hybrid scenario, where you may have AWS as one service and, say, Azure as another, ELB doesn’t work.

This is where LBaaS takes over. LBaaS offers auto-scaling that is platform-agnostic – you can spin up or down resources in minutes irrespective of your environment. LBaaS ensures high application deployment speeds, performance, and availability across diverse environments.

More on Load Balancers:

Maximize Application Availability with Policy-Based Load Balancer Automation
Unused Virtual IPs: Why Optimizing Your Load Balancer Configuration Matters
Software-Based Load Balancers Must Be Managed Too