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WAN Link Load Balancing

Posted on 2006-12-01
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Last Modified: 2012-08-14
What are people's suggestions on load balancing dual WAN links? I have a T1 and a business class DSL with different carriers. My initial research into this issue points me either towards using a router and BGP or using a link load balancer hardware device. There are ~70 users on the network. I am interested in people's opinions and experience with this type of scenario. If you have any product suggestions, I am interested too. Please comment if you need more information.
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Question by:Vespa72
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8 Comments
 
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by:Freya28
ID: 18056588
what type of links.  frame, ATM, vpn,internet?
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by:kcg-witchdoctor
ID: 18056773
I would suggest an additional router that has at least two wan ports. So that you can converge the two wan links. Also you would then only have to adminster one device that couls handle the load balancing. I used a sonicwall wall device to acomplish this. I was able to specify a limit on bandwidth usage for the first wan connection and have it spillover to the second connection. Certain machines however were only allowed to use one connection i.e. mail and web servers  since changing the connections invalidated some of our DNS information. Also it is important to test how SSL connections behave. When utilizing the two links. The SSL can break if the workstation switches wan connections. Just something to think about. I think there are settings that cache ip connections so that they will be maintained. Someone who handles multiple wan links may be able to offer a better suggestion.
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by:Vespa72
ID: 18056905
I have a Sonicwall 2040 with enhanced OS and it has load balancing, but it does not seem to do a very smooth job, hence the search for a better solution. The links are both internet.
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by:lrmoore
ID: 18057415
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by:lrmoore
ID: 18057420
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by:Vespa72
ID: 18059807
@lrmoore, thanks for these links. I have spoken with the people at peplink before, but I am most interested to hear what people's experiences have been with these types of products?
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lrmoore earned 1500 total points
ID: 18059914
I've had some experience with Fatpipes products. They are geared more toward enterprise "industrial strength" applications and their prices typically reflect that. The old adage "you get what you pay for" usually rings true.

There's a testimonial about the Peplink on that link "Dual WAN Router Review", but of course it must be biased or they would not post it so prominantly on their web site.

At the lower end you might look at Linksys RV0x2 series. I've had several reports from users that were quite happy with them.

Any dual wan router has limitations. It's not an easy thing to do especially if you have inbound traffic like email and your own web server. Unless you get T1 service from 2 ISP's, get your own IP subnet and BGP AS number and advertise your subnet to both ISP's then you have to rely on something that is nothing more than a workaround at best. Not even "Business class" DSL will play BGP.

Load-balancing is also challenging in that you have to nat to 2 different public IP's, travel through 2 totally different routes and packets can become out of sequence rapidly. Your performance may actually decrease.

Load 'sharing' may be a better use. Business applications can be sent over T1 while normal web traffic, streaming media and lower priority traffic gan be sent out the DSL line. I'm not sure how low-end products do this, but it is rather simple with Cisco products using route-maps. True load-balancing over diverse ISP's without using BGP is something that Cisco doesn't do well.

Do you monitor the utilization of either link regularly? How do you know the health of either one? Are you overutilizing the T1? What kind of traffic limitations do you put on users? Is it free-for-all anything they want, or do you restrict Internet use to business purposes only? Are users happy with it now? Is the primary purpose of a redundant link to increase productivity or to reduce potential downtime? How much money does downtime cost? How much are you willing to spend to provide the bandwidth? Lots of questions that you really have to ask yourself before you come up with a solution that works best for you.
 
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Expert Comment

by:fahim
ID: 24071026
Guys, would the same assumptions and observations hold good if we are looking at load balancing WAN links that are of MPLS VPN nature , not Internet but only facilitating my Inter office connectivity across three countries.

The two WAN links are terminated in my premises on two 1800 routers that are maintained by two diffrenet ISPs. No BGP/OSPF/ GLBP there and I want to keep away from these cisco complexities.
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