Azure Cloud Migration and Load Balancing

Migrating applications to the Azure Cloud presents multiple challenges ranging from technical issues such as application cloud readiness through to operational issues such as maintaining data security. It makes sense to eliminate or minimize challenges where possible and one such opportunity for reducing risk and complexity is in the area of load balancing. By using cloud-native versions of on-premises load balancers, existing architectures and processes can be retained thus lowering the effort and risk.

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The Azure Load Balancer is a Layer 4 (Transport Layer UDP/TCP) service that balances incoming traffic between real server resources using round-robin as a scheduling method. Session affinity (sending the all client traffic to the same real server) is achieved using the source IP of the client or a hash of the source IP/Port + dest IP/Port and the protocol. Real server health is established using either a guest agent, HTTP probe or a TCP port probe. It does not support load balancing Azure Basic Tier server instances which are less expensive than the required Standard Tier options.

The biggest drawback with Azure Load Balancer is that is a Layer 4 service and does not have the payload visibility needed to perform basic load balancing functions such as SSL offloading, URL rewriting and content caching and completely lacks any security features such as authentication and web application firewall services.

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