Load balancing options

WholesaleBackup servers can be load balanced for environments where you either wish to (a) serve more backup clients than a single server can handle or (b) be able to take a single server offline for maintenance without affecting availability to your backup clients.  You can use (1) round-robin DNS settings; (2) a dedicated load balancer device, whether it is a commercial device from a manufacturer such as f5, an open-source device running pfsense, a homebrew box running openbsd (and using pf); or (3) using Microsoft’s server-based load balancing.

How it works

Load balancing basically involves having your WholesaleBackup Server traffic serviced by a pool of servers.  For this to occur, there needs to be a “load balancer” to direct incoming WholesaleBackup TCP  traffic to a particular server and each server needs access to every account’s data folders and so are usually configured identically except for their internal IP addresses.

Round-robin

DNS round-robin rotation is by far the simplest way to spread traffic over your servers.  This could be configured with your DNS provider for your FQDN (sending your clients to different public IP addresses), via your firewall (if it supports it), or internal to your LAN (behind your firewall) by directing traffic (see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc787484(v=ws.10) for example).

Microsoft-based load balancing

In addition, Microsoft has implemented a sophisticated framework for load balancing among clusters of servers and created a “Network Load Balancing Technical Overview” which introduces and describes all the needed technical concepts where you can access this document at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb742455.aspx as well as another overview (originally written for Windows 2003) at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc756878(v=ws.10).aspx.  In addition, Microsoft provides a “Network Load Balancing Deployment Guide” which can be accessed at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc754833(v=ws.10).aspx.

Our opinion

From our experience, utilizing DNS round-robin or a separate load balancing device, such as one running the free utility pfsense (which can also be used as your firewall) is easier to install and manage for IT professionals who are not immersed in Microsoft’s server technology, network load balancing, and advanced network switch configurations.

Whatever load balancing technology you choose to implement, all you are doing is (a) directing TCP traffic for the port your WholesaleBackup server listens on to a WholesaleBackup server listening on that TCP port, (b) being sure each server has WholesaleBackup server installed and configured to share the same WSBU.db and WSBU.csv (and if used WSBU.bat WSBU_CC.bat files) on a network share, and (c) being sure the network path to each WholesaleBackup client’s data is identical across each server.

The essential thing

In failover or load balancing scenarios, it is essential that the file WSBU.db is resident on a file system that fully implements Microsoft’s file system locks, such as NTFS.  Most NAS devices use Linux SAMBA which does not adequately implement Microsoft’s file system locks so do not place WSBU.db on such NAS devices to share among your WholesaleBackup Servers.

Please contact our sales department if you wish to engage our consulting services team in assisting you in choosing, configuring, and managing network load balancing.

How can we help?

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