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Network load balancing (NLB) is the management of traffic across a network without the use of complex routing protocols such as Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). NLB distributes workload across multiple CPUs, disk drives and other resources in an effort to use network resources more efficiently and avoid network overload. Load balancing may be accomplished through software or hardware.
This term is also known as vector routing, which is a form of NLB.
Network load balancing is an efficient and cost-effective solution designed to enhance the availability and scalability of Internet applications by allowing system administrators to build clusters, which are load balanced with incoming client requests. During NLB, clients cannot distinguish the cluster from a single server. Server programs are also unaware that a cluster is running.
As a result of this setup, NLB allows for greater overall control, including remote cluster management from any network point. Administrators can tailor clusters to services with port-defined controls. Cluster hosts and software may be modified without service interruption.
NLB sends regular messages, allowing all cluster members to monitor the other hosts’ presence. Host failures and recovery are handled automatically and quickly. NLB’s software implementation requires extremely low overhead to handle network traffic. The process delivers excellent performance scaling, which is limited only by subnet bandwidth.
NLB also provides network redundancy in the event of a network link failure. This is done by providing secondary link access.