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Recommendation on IIS Load Balancing

Posted on 2006-07-17
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Last Modified: 2007-11-03
Currently we are trying to justify the use of a hardware network load balancer for our IIS servers.  At this point we have two IIS boxes that are setup with load balancing, but they do not seem to really be load balancing, one of them is doing all of the work.

We need to justify why to spend the money on the (Coyotes load balancing system) when we can just use what is built in.  We need to provide failover (clustering) as well as efficient shared use of system resources (load balancing)  

Can anyone help with this, how easy is it to use IIS 6.0 to get the best of both worlds or would it be easier to justify the $ on the hardware fix?

thank you
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Question by:Brian Marquardt
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kevinf40 earned 125 total points
ID: 17128978
Hi radvibes

The use of network load balancing is generally accepted as the best way to scale and ensure availability within web environments.

have a look here:
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/WindowsServer2003/Library/IIS/0baca8b1-73b9-4cd2-ab9c-654d88d05b4f.mspx?mfr=true

Microsoft’s own document starts with the line:
"The best way to guarantee the scalability and availability of your Internet services is to host your site with more than one computer. Microsoft Windows Server 2003 includes the Network Load Balancing service. Network Load Balancing enhances the availability and scalability of Internet server applications such as those used on Web,<snip>"

Obviously this article is promoting the use of a couple of ISA servers in front of the web servers as ti is an M$ document, but the message is clear - that even M$ believe the use of some form of dedicated load balancing in front of their web servers is the way to go.

Load balancers can also be quite intelligent and balance based on a variety of parameters.  They are also useful for simplifying things like ssl - e.g. host your certificate on one server and have the load balancer forward all ssl traffic to this server and normal http traffic to the other servers.

Load balancers can often understand things like session state - so if your web app uses sessions once a user has been directed to a specific web server they will stay on that server for the duration of their session.

Another benefit is the load balancer understanding whether the application is up, and automatically stopping routing traffic to a server if it fails.

Other - easy scaling - just add more servers and then add them to the load balancer config.  Easy patching - just remove the servers one at a time from the live set in use by the LB - although it takes longer can do this gracefully so as to minimise impact on users (e.g. - no more new sessions go to the server(s) to be patched, but existing ones are not kicked off until most have finished).

I am not familiar with the Coyotes system specifically, but I suspect the above benefits will help justify the cost.

cheers

Kevin
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