October 12, 2023
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3
min read

What is global server load balancing (GSLB)?

Karthik Krishnaswamy

Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB) enhances application performance and resilience by steering client traffic to the closest healthy point of presence. Simple, right? 

In essence, GSLB operates by fine-tuning DNS resolution. It makes sure that when clients access your internet endpoints, they are routed to the nearest point of presence, boosting performance. GSLB also enhances resiliency by rerouting traffic away from failing or unavailable points of presence, ensuring uninterrupted service.

So, how does GSLB work to reduce latency?

GSLB’s role is to swoop to the rescue before your server breaks a sweat from too much traffic, thus preventing frustrating delays. It's like having multiple pit stops for your website visitors, ensuring that no single location gets overwhelmed with requests and slows things down.

Imagine a user in sunny Los Angeles trying to access a web service hosted on a server all the way in Paris. That's a long-distance relationship with a lot of "hops" in between, causing serious loading hiccups. Enter GSLB once again. It leverages a global network of servers, ensuring every user connects to a server nearby, within a hundred miles or so. So, in our Los Angeles to Paris scenario, the user would hit a server just around the corner, resulting in a snappier and more enjoyable online experience.

What are the benefits of GSLB?

As we’ve seen, GSLB tackles application sluggishness by cleverly spreading network traffic among numerous interconnected servers situated in various Points of Presence (PoPs) distributed globally. There are two primary benefits (and I think pretty obvious) of global server load balancing:

  1. Elevates application performance: GSLB ensures that end-user traffic is directed to the PoP with the lowest latency/ Speedy service = happy users!
  2. Strengthens resilience and supports high availability: In cases where an entire PoP shuts down, GSLB swiftly redirects traffic to another operational PoP, ensuring uninterrupted service.

How does ngrok support global server load balancing?

I’d love to tell you! In addition to enhancing app performance and resilience, ngrok's GSLB simplifies IT operations when compared to traditional appliance-based GSLBs in the following ways:

  1. Hosted GSLB: It's cloud-based, so no provisioning or ongoing maintenance is needed.
  2. Zero configuration: It auto-selects optimal regions; no setup required.
  3. Origin server protection: Enforces security policies at the edge, blocking unauthorized requests.
  4. Simplified app delivery: ngrok combines GSLB, firewall, and reverse proxy in one solution.
  5. Instant availability of new locations: New services and config changes are immediately available across ngrok's Global Network.

Why not traditional load balancing?

Load balancers operate "in-line" with the traffic, channeling all communication between the client and the applications through them. You need this too, but it’s not enough.

In contrast, GSLBs come into play solely to set up the routing. Once the connection is established, all traffic flows directly between the client and the application without GSLB involvement.

ngrok offers unique advantages compared to traditional GSLB:

  • Global network: ngrok manages a global network of PoPs for you, enhancing app speed even with a single geographic deployment of your upstream service.
  • Automatic routing: Deploying services in new locations? ngrok automatically routes traffic to these locations, eliminating configuration hassles.
  • Secure connections: ngrok forwards traffic securely through its agents, ensuring connections to the nearest PoPs for optimal performance.

GSLB for disaster recovery

During unforeseen events like outages, disasters, or maintenance, ensuring uninterrupted service is crucial. You need GSLB for the vital role it plays in disaster recovery, directing traffic to backup sites when needed. This proactive approach minimizes disruption, prevents revenue loss, and safeguards an organization's reputation. Bottom line? GSLB ensures business continuity even and especially during unexpected challenges.

Learn more about GSLB with ngrok

Interested in diving into GSLB with ngrok? You can dig deeper into our always-on GSLB feature announcement. Or, learn more about how we simplify Kubernetes networking:

Questions or comments? Hit us up on X (aka Twitter) @ngrokhq or LinkedIn, or join our community on Slack.

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