Aliyun’s recent announcement to set up a cloud data centre in Singapore and its $1 billion investment in its cloud data centres point to the increasing demand for cloud-related data management services worldwide. Structure Report estimates that Singapore’s data centre location market will surpass $1.2 billion next year.
If you are expanding your business regionally or globally, you understand the importance of keeping performance consistent for your online customers. Global load balancing (GLB) allows you to manage your traffic to and from your data centres and cloud service providers around the world, making it easier to create the best end-user experience possible.
On-premise vs. Cloud
With GLB, there are two approaches: using on-premises hardware and software, or cloud-based services. Both have the same end goal, but different processes and costs. Using in-house load balancers to route traffic between data centres adds overhead and maintenance costs as well as risks and performance degradation. With cloud-based GLB services, you can ensure your website visitors are routed to the best possible data centre, so they enjoy rapid, reliable access to your services while you minimise costs and enjoy greater flexibility.
Here are four reasons businesses are taking their GLB to the cloud instead of using appliances:
1. Lower Capital and Operating Expenses
With cloud-based GLB, you are leveraging the service provider’s infrastructure, such as their
global Points of Presence and Tier 1 connections, allowing you to eliminate your GLB equipment and maintenance costs. With no capital expense and a monthly subscription covering nearly all operating expense, you have immediate access to GLB that optimally routes Domain Name System (DNS) queries the first time.
The differences in the costs between GLB done on-premises and through a cloud-based service are emphasized as you add more data centres. Your capital expenses and operating expenses for on-premises GLB step up as you add data centres and incur more equipment, licensing, and support costs.
For businesses planning data centre expansion to accommodate increasing volume, additional services, or to support failover, purchasing GLB options for your on-premises appliances might not be your most cost-effective option.
2. Flexibility of Service
With a cloud service, it is easier to swap out providers to ensure that you are getting the best price, without needing to make major changes to the load balancing aspect of the service. It allows you to choose, and later change, whatever local load balancer meets your requirements and price point—whether that’s a different appliance or move to a software solution. You can expand your infrastructure quickly as you move into new markets or regions.
Flexibility also extends to your staff and time. Since IT teams don’t have to spend the time maintaining infrastructure, they have the time to optimise other areas of the business.
Engaging cloud-based GLB can typically be done in less than an hour.
3. High Availability and Performance
When you engage with a service provider, you are leveraging their infrastructure and Internet expertise. The most experienced GLB service providers have designed and maintain global networks for rapid and reliable DNS resolution the first time through any cast networks.
Different than unicast topologies, which GLB appliances typically rely, anycast networks provide a one-to-many relationship between IP addresses and their associated name servers. The service provider, rather than the customer, makes the investment in time and expertise required to set up and maintain an anycast network—an ongoing investment that would be beyond the means of most enterprises.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are one of the biggest risks faced by enterprise IT teams. Some companies purchase GLB appliances to protect against application-level attacks—but DNS layer DDoS attacks are very different. Given its vantage point serving a global customer base, an experienced cloud-based GLB service offers an extremely high level of expertise in DDoS protection—and the staff to perform a level of monitoring that is beyond most companies’ IT teams.
Anycast networks also improve performance. The service provider focusing on the DNS layer and employing an anycast network means users get the best connection the first time, faster and more reliably than a GLB appliance dragging around a “unicast delegation” across multiple data centres and correcting it later with a geo IP lookup.
4. Visibility into Internet Traffic
When it comes to traffic information, GLB appliances connected to local load balancers from the same vendor can provide greater detail on sessions after connections have been resolved. They do not, however, provide a broader, DNS-level visibility of what’s impacting your traffic out on the Internet, especially during the initial attempts at connection.
Managing traffic outside enterprise perimeters, including between data centres, involves the architecture and protocols of the Internet—visibility that an on-premises solution cannot provide. Through portals with intuitive graphical user interfaces and application programme interfaces that let you automate your everyday processes, cloud-based services can make it easy to monitor and make decisions about traffic management in real-time when needed.
Experienced service providers may also share additional information that helps to monitor the impact of the Internet on your business, through sensor grids, global geolocation analysis, and real-time Internet connection mapping. You might also know a lot more about what’s happening elsewhere on the Internet that will help you make better decisions about your application traffic and infrastructure planning.
What It All Comes Down To
In the end, the real purpose of putting time, money, and effort into a GLB solution is to improve your customer experience. With a cloud solution, you can offer customers a better experience received from GLB, while focusing on other areas of your business with the time and resources saved from using an on-premises appliance.
Saving money should never be at the expense of your customers, because in the end, without them there is no revenue to begin with. With a cloud GLB service, you can rest assured that not only are you spending your money efficiently, but you are creating loyal customers due to your great online experience.
Martin Ryan is the VP and MD, Asia Pacific, Dyn