April 16, 2024

Azure Standard Load Balancer vs Azure Basic Load Balancer

9 min read
Discover the differences between Azure Standard Load Balancer and Azure Basic Load Balancer in this informative article.
Two cloud-based load balancers

Two cloud-based load balancers

In the world of cloud computing, load balancing has become an essential concept for maintaining high availability and scalability of applications. Azure Load Balancer is an essential load balancing service offered by Microsoft Azure, and it comes in two flavors – Azure Standard Load Balancer and Azure Basic Load Balancer. While both variants share some similarities, there are significant differences. In this article, we examine the differences between the two and offer insights into how to choose the variant that best suits your application needs.

Understanding Load Balancing in Azure

Before delving into the differences between Azure Standard Load Balancer and Azure Basic Load Balancer, it is essential to understand what load balancing is and how it works within the Azure ecosystem. Essentially, load balancing distributes incoming traffic across a set of backend instances or servers, thereby ensuring that the application can deliver reliable service to a large volume of clients. A load balancer can improve availability and scalability of applications by directing traffic to available backend instances while also monitoring the health of backend servers and routing traffic only to healthy instances.

Load balancing in Azure is achieved through the use of virtual IP addresses (VIPs) and backend pools. A VIP is a unique IP address that is assigned to a load balancer and is used to route traffic to backend instances. Backend pools are collections of backend instances that are grouped together for load balancing purposes. When a client sends a request to the load balancer, the load balancer selects a backend instance from the backend pool and forwards the request to that instance.

There are two types of load balancers in Azure: Standard Load Balancer and Basic Load Balancer. Standard Load Balancer provides more advanced features such as multiple front-end IP addresses, custom health probes, and outbound connections. Basic Load Balancer, on the other hand, is a simpler and more cost-effective option that is suitable for basic load balancing scenarios. When choosing between the two, it is important to consider the specific needs of your application and select the load balancer that best meets those needs.

What is Azure Load Balancer?

Azure Load Balancer is a highly available, scalable, and fault-tolerant load balancing service that is essential to ensure that applications running on Azure are always available. The Load Balancer operates at the transport layer or layer 4 of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model and routes incoming traffic to backend virtual machines, virtual machine scale sets, or PaaS services. Azure Load Balancer is used to automatically distribute incoming traffic to healthy backend instances while also supporting high availability by monitoring the health of backend instances.

One of the key benefits of Azure Load Balancer is its ability to handle large amounts of traffic without any downtime. This is achieved through its ability to scale horizontally by adding more virtual machines or virtual machine scale sets to the backend pool. Additionally, Azure Load Balancer supports both inbound and outbound scenarios, making it a versatile tool for managing network traffic in Azure.

What is the difference between Standard and Basic Load Balancer in Azure?

Azure Load Balancer comes in two flavors – Standard and Basic. The primary difference between the two is in their level of sophistication and customization. The Standard Load Balancer, designed for complex networking scenarios, offers more features and options than the Basic Load Balancer, which is best suited for simple networking requirements. The Standard Load Balancer is based on Azure Resource Manager, making it more customizable and better suited to enterprises. It offers better integration with other Azure services such as Application Gateway, ExpressRoute, and VPN Gateway.

One of the key features of the Standard Load Balancer is its ability to handle traffic across multiple virtual networks and availability zones. This makes it ideal for large-scale applications that require high availability and fault tolerance. Additionally, the Standard Load Balancer supports inbound and outbound network address translation (NAT), which allows you to map public IP addresses to private IP addresses and vice versa. This feature is not available in the Basic Load Balancer.

Features of Azure Basic Load Balancer

The Azure Basic Load Balancer is a simple and low-cost option that supports load balancing between virtual machines and customers running basic workloads. It operates at layer 4 and distributes network traffic evenly among multiple servers by forwarding incoming requests to the backend virtual machines. The basic load balancer is ideal for applications that do not require high-performance network traffic and is compatible with virtual machines running Windows or Linux. It is important to note that the Azure Basic Load Balancer does not support endpoints for Azure Virtual Network, custom probes, or outbound scenarios.

One of the advantages of using Azure Basic Load Balancer is that it provides high availability for your applications by distributing traffic across multiple virtual machines. This ensures that if one virtual machine fails, the traffic is automatically redirected to the remaining virtual machines, ensuring that your application remains available to users.

Another feature of Azure Basic Load Balancer is that it provides a simple and easy-to-use interface for managing your load balancer. You can easily configure and manage your load balancer using the Azure portal, PowerShell, or the Azure CLI. This makes it easy for you to set up and manage your load balancer, even if you have limited experience with load balancing.

Features of Azure Standard Load Balancer

The Azure Standard Load Balancer, which is a more advanced and customizable variant than the Basic Load Balancer, supports more complex networking scenarios, providing more extensive features and options. This load balancer is designed for complex networking scenarios and integrates better with other Azure services. The Standard Load Balancer supports both inbound and outbound traffic, custom SLA, health probes, and endpoint traffic management. It also supports virtual network endpoints, availability zones, and cross-region scenarios, making it a more comprehensive and versatile option for enterprise customers on Azure.

Additionally, the Azure Standard Load Balancer offers advanced security features such as SSL offloading, which allows for secure communication between clients and servers. It also supports integration with Azure Firewall, providing an extra layer of security for your applications. The Standard Load Balancer also offers more granular control over traffic distribution, allowing you to configure routing rules based on source IP, protocol, and port. This level of control ensures that your applications are always available and performing optimally, even during high traffic periods. Overall, the Azure Standard Load Balancer is a powerful tool for managing complex networking scenarios and ensuring the security and availability of your applications.

How to choose between Azure Standard and Basic Load Balancer

The choice between Azure Standard or Basic Load Balancer ultimately depends on the application’s networking requirements. If you have basic networking requirements for your application, the Azure Basic Load Balancer is a cost-effective and straightforward option. On the other hand, if the application involves complex networking scenarios, such as outbound scenarios or virtual network endpoints, The Azure Standard Load Balancer is the better option. It provides more features and options than the Basic Load Balancer, making it a more versatile choice for enterprise customers on Azure.

When choosing between Azure Standard and Basic Load Balancer, it’s also important to consider the level of support you require. Azure Standard Load Balancer comes with a higher level of support, including 24/7 technical support and a service level agreement (SLA) for uptime. This level of support may be necessary for critical applications that require high availability and minimal downtime.

Another factor to consider is scalability. If your application is expected to grow rapidly, the Azure Standard Load Balancer may be the better choice. It offers more scalability options, including the ability to scale up to 1000 virtual machines and support for multiple IP addresses. The Basic Load Balancer, on the other hand, has more limited scalability options and may not be suitable for larger applications.

Performance comparison of Azure Standard and Basic Load Balancer

Performance is also a consideration when choosing between Azure Standard and Basic Load Balancer. Although both variants offer high performance for most applications, the Azure Standard Load Balancer offers more comprehensive features and options, making it faster and more efficient in complex networking scenarios. With the Standard Load Balancer supporting both inbound and outbound traffic, cross-region scenarios, and virtual network endpoints, it is better positioned to handle high-performance demands than the Basic Load Balancer. However, performance is subjective and dependent on the application’s specific requirements.

Cost comparison of Azure Standard and Basic Load Balancer

The cost of Azure Load Balancer varies depending on the variant. The Azure Basic Load Balancer is significantly cheaper than the Azure Standard Load Balancer. Basic Load Balancer is priced at $20 per month, while the Standard Load Balancer is priced at $100 per month. While Azure Basic Load Balancer offers cost savings, the Standard Load Balancer’s functionality and versatility make it worth the extra cost for enterprise customers with complex networking requirements. The decision on cost should be based on the application’s networking requirements and budget considerations.

How to configure Azure Standard Load Balancer for your application

Configuring Azure Standard Load Balancer for your application involves several steps. Firstly, you need to create a resource group and virtual network. Next, you deploy two backend virtual machines or virtual machine scale sets in different availability zones. After creating these, you then create a health probe, load balancing rule, and backend pool for your application. Once the configuration is complete, you need to test the setup. It is essential to consult Microsoft documentation to ensure that you configure all necessary settings correctly.

How to configure Azure Basic Load Balancer for your application

The process of configuring Azure Basic Load Balancer is a lot simpler than that of the Standard Load Balancer. It involves establishing a backend pool, creating a load balancing rule, and testing the setup. The Basic Load Balancer’s configuration is straightforward, making it a good choice for customers that require a basic load balancing service.

Best practices for using Azure Load Balancer

When using Azure Load Balancer, it is essential to follow best practices to ensure that the application performs optimally. Firstly, it is recommended to use Standard Load Balancer for mission-critical applications that require reliable, fault-tolerant, highly available, and scalable load balancing functionality. Secondly, it is recommended to leverage Azure Traffic Manager or Azure Application Gateway to achieve more advanced features such as geo-distribution or web application firewall.

Common use cases for Azure Standard and Basic Load Balancers

The use cases for both Azure Standard and Basic Load Balancers vary depending on the application’s networking requirements. Basic Load Balancer is best suited for basic networking requirements and is an essential load balancing service for applications that don’t demand high-performance network traffic, such as single region stateless web applications. On the other hand, Standard Load Balancer is a versatile choice for enterprise customers with complex networking requirements such as cross-region scenarios, virtual network endpoints, and outbound scenarios.

Troubleshooting common issues with Azure Load Balancers

Despite their high reliability and efficiency, Azure Load Balancers may encounter issues that require troubleshooting. Some common issues with load balancers include backend VM health issues, improper configuration, suboptimal routing, and network connectivity problems. It is essential to consult Microsoft’s troubleshooting documentation for guidance on how to fix these and other issues that may arise during the operation of the Load Balancer.

Future developments for Azure Load Balancers.

As the demand for high-performance, reliable, and scalable cloud computing services continues to grow, Microsoft will undoubtedly continue to improve the functionality and capabilities of Azure Load Balancers. The future development of Azure Load Balancer is likely to feature more advanced features such as multi-cloud support, advanced networking scenarios such as service mesh integration, and enhanced automation capabilities.

In conclusion, choosing between Azure Standard and Basic Load Balancer depends on the specific networking requirements of the application. The Standard Load Balancer offers more advanced features and is best suited to complex networking requirements such as virtual network endpoints, cross-region scenarios, and outbound scenarios. The Basic Load Balancer, on the other hand, is more economical and provides a simple, low-cost option for basic networking requirements. Following best practices and consulting Microsoft documentation is essential to ensure the effective operation of the Load Balancer.

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