Load Balancing Design

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One of the objectives of the Internet Platform and Operationsgroup in testing and hosting Windows SharePoint Services was tovalidate that the popular software and hardware load balancingsolutions work well with Windows SharePoint Services in a serverfarm. To achieve that objective, the group set up load balancing onthe server farm by using common solutions.

Choosing Solutions

As a software load balancing solution, the Internet Platform andOperations group chose the Network Load Balancing (NLB) technologyin Microsoft Windows Server 2003 after testing NLB in variousintranet and extranet scenarios and verifying that it works wellwith Windows SharePoint Services.

F5 Networks and Cisco Systems are two common providers of loadbalancing hardware. F5 BIG-IP devices were selected because theywere readily available and provide the needed load balancingfeatures with a friendly user interface. In addition to basic loadbalancing, BIG-IP controllers provide more features, including areporting feature and IP address filtering. The reporting featureprovides an interface that allows administrators to monitor thecurrent and maximum connections to the system, a pool, or a server,and to monitor bits moving in or out at the server and pool level.Using BIG-IP IP address filtering allows administrators to denyconnections going to or coming from specific IP addresses.

The following sections provide information about how theInternet Platform and Operations group configured load balancing byusing the BIG-IP solution they chose. The principles describedshould be useful to your deployment, even if you do not choose thesame solutions. For information about configuring load balancing byusing other solutions, see the documentation for the specificsoftware and hardware solutions you choose.