One thing about 2020 is certain: it has fundamentally changed the way we think about work, and those changes will be permanent. One survey found that almost all – 88 per cent – of organisations encouraged or required employees to work from home as lockdowns and social distancing was enforced through the year. A recent S&P study found that two-thirds – 67 per cent – of organisations were planning on leaving these policies in place permanently or for the long-term.
The shift to such a decentralised work environment has far-reaching implications for everything from security to how applications are consumed, and the on-going resilience for the business relies on its ability to rapidly shift to make this new way of working robust and reliable. Enterprises are looking to their channel partners to develop strategies to handle both the transition and the long-term stability of the organisation’s IT environment.
And for that, IT experts are turning to a surprisingly old technology.
(Re)introducing load balancing
Load balancing is a term to describe the process of distributing network traffic across multiple servers, and by doing so, it ensures that no single server ends up overloaded with too much demand.
By distributing this workload evenly, a load balancer can deliver several critical benefits to the organisation:
- Optimized application responsiveness and speed, with no bottlenecks slowing down traffic and end-user interactions.
- Unified distributed environments, as load balancers can be software-defined and act as the glue to operate applications across a hybrid of physical and virtualized server environments.
- Consistent security policies, by providing the organisation with a solution to common attack vectors, including denial-of-service, or DDoS attacks, and (most significantly), data theft. Research shows that on average data breaches cost enterprises $US3.68 million, across the raw costs of dealing with the data loss, fines, reputational costs, and so on..
Each of these benefits to having effective and well-managed load balancers in the environment provides the organisation with resiliency against this new way of working, allowing employee and customer interactions over a disperse, hybrid environment.
“Businesses and IT organisations have become more aware of the deficiencies in their IT environments for the changing IT conditions.” Kemp Technologies’ principal application experience architect, Frank Yue, said. “IT teams are scrambling to retool these architectures to meet the business expectations for this new normal. Load balancing is needed to ensure the availability, scalability, and flexibility of these environments.”
“It is not acceptable to shut down a business for any given amount of time, but if there is an IT disruption to these services, that is essentially what happens. The core load balancing functions of availability, scalability, and flexibility ensure that there is no point of failure that will cause a business to be negatively impacted.”
Load balancing in action
One recent example of the benefit that load balancing can bring to an organisation can be seen with MidCoast Council, a NSW government organisation of three local councils that merged to create a large operation of over 900 employees, spread across 70 locations. This immediately created a logistical challenge, as the new organisation needed to ensure that there weren’t any bottlenecks created during periods of peak demand across the five datacentres, as well as private and public cloud environments. In addition, the newly formed organisation was planning on rolling out Skype for Business to allow better communication across all locations, but which would cause large spikes in bandwidth use.
By purchasing Virtual LoadMaster appliances from Kemp, MidCoast council was able to mitigate against surges of traffic. Furthermore it was able to install and configure the solution in less than half a day.
Channel partners play a direct and critical role in the success of any load balancing implementation project. Though the technology has existed since the mid-1990s, effective load balancing solutions need to be tailored to the environment. With the dynamic shifts in how organisations and IT environments are structured, load balancing and the solutions it delivers to the organisation can – and should – underpin all strategic engagements that a partner has with their customers.
“All of this is being driven from the business at the top,” Yue said. “Organisations are looking at their changing needs and ensuring that there is a business continuity plan and driving that process through the IT organisation. ”
“Load balancing is an essential technology to enable the benefits of the cloud specifically, elasticity and agility. Elasticity is the ability to breathe based on demand or scale up and scale down. Agility is the ability to change/add/remove applications and infrastructure in these environments. Load balancers are designed to deliver these functions.”
“IT organisations are looking for load balancing to enhance the solutions they did not properly build out pre-2020 because they were not business critical functions. VPN was a ‘nice to have’ before the working from home trend, but now it is an essential service. The same is true for many services that were side projects previously, or even not implemented at all.”
For more information on load balancing solutions, and how Kemp Technologies can assist in delivering resilient, diversified IT environments for the modern decentralised working environment, click here.