Application Delivery Blog

Multi-Cloud Load Balancing: Separating Fact from Fiction

Chris Heggem
Posted on Jul 11, 2018 10:02:54 AM

We now live in a multi-cloud world. And it makes sense. Enterprises need highly available applications that can support customers all over the globe. Hybrid and multi-cloud environments, the concept of managing multiple infrastructure environments together as one, give businesses choice and flexibility with their infrastructure. Why would you lock themselves into a single data center or a single cloud?

Should you run in a data center or cloud?! Should you use AWS or Azure!?


The idea of multi-cloud is great on paper; however it becomes increasingly complex when you try to move to production — especially when you need application services like load balancing and WAF. Here are some of the common pitfalls we help enterprises overcome with multi-cloud load balancing.


Opinionated Solution vs. Agnostic Solution

Multi-cloud, by its very definition, means that applications and supporting services need to be agnostic to the underlying infrastructure. Any application should receive any service in any cloud. But that’s not how most load balancers work. Most load balancers are opinionated about how and where they work.

Some load balancers, like AWS's ELB, are native to the vendor's cloud. It is an integrated solution that can be used with applications running in an AWS environment. But if you move your application to another cloud or to a data center, ELB won’t be able to follow. Pretty straight forward.

Traditional load balancers are a bit more confusing. They have various products and services depending on the underlying infrastructure. For example, these vendors will encourage you to use hardware load balancers in a data center. If you want to deploy applications in a cloud then you will have to use a virtual appliance. That virtual appliance needs to be uniquely configured for each cloud or data center it operates in. Multi-cloud load balancing with a traditional vendor takes a lot of consideration and limits much of the flexibility and choice that drew you to multi-cloud infrastructure in the first place.

Avi Networks’ software load balancer is platform agnostic. Avi runs on bare metal, virtual machines, and containers in any data center or cloud. It is the same solution for all of your applications in any environment.


Multiple Clouds vs. Multi-Cloud (“In” vs. “Across”)

My mother always told me that language matters (she was an English teacher so she is woefully biased), and in the context of multi-cloud load balancing language matters a lot.

Traditional load balancing vendors claim they work in any cloud. And they do. You can spin up a VM, deploy a virtual edition of their appliance, and — voilà (my mother also spoke French) — it is running in the cloud.

In” is not good. This means that this virtual appliance is locked in to that particular cloud. Want a load balancer in a second cloud? You can spin up another VM, and deploy another virtual edition of their appliance in a second cloud. There is no control, connection, or communication between these two appliances. You have two separate clouds that your teams need to manage separately. There is a significant difference between multiple clouds and a multi-cloud environment. Language matters.

Software load balancers, like Avi Networks, aren’t confined to appliances so they work across clouds and are managed from a centralized controller. For example, deploying in VMware, Azure, or AWS is as simple as a few clicks. Here, I’ll show you in 33 seconds.

And managing applications across these instances is just as easy.




“Deploy as many, manage as one” is a mantra you’ll hear at Avi Networks. As you can see these applications are running across Amazon, Azure, and several private environments. Avi’s service engines are deployed per-app or per-tenant and managed from within a single platform portal. Nobody else offers multi-cloud load balancing like this.


Automation at Scale vs. Manual Inputs at Scale

Use of IT resources is growing faster than ever before. The number of applications and number of end-users are growing exponentially, which is a driving force for cloud and multi-cloud adoption. In addition to these new cloud environments, IT teams are using automation to scale with demand and provide developers with self-service resources.

With automation you’re only as strong as your weakest link. And traditional load balancers are very weak links.

We often have conversations with enterprise customers who tout their automation efforts. “Now when a developer requests a VM they can get the resources in a matter of minutes.” But when we ask about load balancing we are told “that still requires a ticket and can get provisioned in a couple days.” Yikes!

The cloud is built for automation and elastic scale. Your applications and your business depend on it. You can’t afford to let your load balancer be the weakest link of your multi-cloud environments.

Avi Networks has native integrations with private and public cloud providers to provide intent-based application services — declare your desired outcome and let Avi Networks do the rest. In addition, Avi Networks has deep integrations with Ansible and Terraform to provide zero-code multi-cloud automation. This means that Avi's load balancer will never be the weak link throughout the application lifecycle.

The Avi load balancer scales with the application in any cloud. No custom scripting. No manual inputs. The system knows how to perfectly provision load balancing regardless of where the app runs. Watch our multi-cloud autoscaling demo. Can your existing load balancer do that?


Multi-cloud Load Balancing - In Summary

Two clouds are better than one, as long your applications are able to get the services and resources they need to thrive. Enterprises can’t afford to have opinionated load balancers compromising their multi-cloud initiatives. Find a load balancer that is agnostic to the underlying infrastructure, runs across any environment, and embraces automation so your applications can move at the speed of your business. 

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Topics: Software Load Balancer, multicloud traffic management, Multi-Cloud, intent-based load balancer, Multi-cloud Load Balancing

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