Amazon Announces Application Load Balancer for the Cloud

Load balancers have been part of the networking landscape for decades, more often than not in recent years being lumped together under the category of Application Delivery Controllers (ADC). Various load balancing services have been available in the cloud, but this week Amazon announced a significant new entrant – the Application Load Balancer for Elastic Load Balancing.

The new Application Load Balancer was announced during a keynote by Amazon CTO Werner Vogels at the AWS Summit on August 11. Vogels said for AWS users with multiple web traffic targets, there is a clear need for a load balancer.

The way the Elastic Load Balancer had typically worked in the past was that network traffic would be sent to all of the nodes in an AWS target group that was running. Vogels noted that AWS customers wanted to do fine-grained, application-level load balancing but haven’t been able to do so.

“I’m happy to announce that we’re launching a new load balancer called the Application Load Balancer that gives you complete control over how to send traffic to individual components within your system,” Vogels said.

With the Application Load Balancer, Vogels said that all code doesn’t need to run on all systems in a cloud cluster. Instead, a more fine-grained approach can be taken to enable a micro-services approach for load balanced applications.

“You can have very fine-grained, content-based routing to where the different components of your system live,” Vogels said.

The Application Load Balancer also works for web sockets and streaming, providing a new model for real-time delivery of content. Additionally, Amazon provides detailed logging of what traffic is going where for each of the application components targeted by the Application Load Balancer.

“What we heard from some of our customers that were in the private beta for the Application Load Balancer is that it’s not only faster than the classic load balancer, there is also a significant reduction in cost,” Vogels said. “Typically it’s 30 percent or more.”

There is also an integration with the new Application Load Balancer and the Amazon Container Service for Docker containers.

“You can now send specific content-based traffic directly to containers, instead of having to go through a more awkward strategy,” Vogels said. “This really helps to build fine-grained routing in your application and makes it easier to share load balancers.”

The combination of Application Load Balancers with ECS (EC2 Container Service) is just going to be magic,” Vogels said. “It makes it easier for you to build your container based applications.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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