The importance of load balancing in a digital economy

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CacheFly Team

Date Posted:

July 29, 2010

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As a business professional, you likely deal with customers from various regions. The Internet has allowed companies to conduct business on a scale never before seen; however, scaling your website to handle such exposure can be a difficult process for even the most experienced teams. Fortunately, by embracing load balancing and a content delivery network (CDN), you can greatly increase your digital prescience without worrying about managing an internal server farm.

Overview of the technology
Although load balancing is often associated with high-end server networks, the technology simply boils down to spreading Internet traffic between multiple servers. In practice, load balancing is used for many purposes. It can allow you to get extra use from older servers or enable your business to cope with sudden spikes in traffic. As a rule of thumb, if you have multiple servers handling your website, you will likely need a balancer to ensure that all the servers function properly.
One of the most practical applications of load balancing—even for small websites—is using a content delivery network. A content delivery network is a network of servers located across varying regions, in most cases nationally and globally, designed to serve files based on the location of a visitor.

A simple fix for many problems
If you are using a web host in Texas and a customer from New York visits your website, he will have a slightly longer load time than a visitor located in Texas. CDN systems solve this problem of varying load times by hosting your website files on multiple servers within their network of data centers. In many cases, these networks span the globe; however, businesses are often able to select specific regions in order to stay within their budget. CDN systems ensure that when a visitor comes to your website, he will get the files from the server closest to him. This allows a visitor in New York to experience the same load times as a visitor in Texas.
In addition to improving website speeds, CDNs and load balancing are also vital for improving the reliability of websites. Because images, videos, and other website files can require lots of power to distribute, high amounts of traffic can easily bring a server down. CDNs solve this problem by providing a simple way to have content spread across a network of servers to ensure that no one server is overwhelmed by traffic.
While CDN systems are commonly associated with high-performance environments, today the costs of load balancing technology have reached a point where virtually any company can afford a quality CDN service. While having your website files stored on dozens of servers might sound expensive, storage costs have plummeted over the years, making CDNs one of the most practical solutions for any business owner to increase site performance.

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