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Foundry Networks: Load Balancing For The Masses

It's easy to talk about load balancing, but how many people have written a book about the topic? We caught up with Chandra Kopparapu, vice president and general manager of the service provider and multi-layer switching business unit at Foundry Networks, to talk a bit about load balancing and why it matters to enterprise networks. (Foundry's ServerIron switches compete with offerings from Cisco, F5 Networks and others in this space.)

Networking Pipeline: I trust as the author of a book about the subject, you have a few things to say about load balancing.

Chandra Kopparapu: Well, we didn't invent rocket science here. Load balancing has existed in the networking space for a long time. Routers do load balancing every day, and clustering has been around since the days of Tandem, IBM and DEC. What's new about load balancing is that it's being brought to commodity computing. Instead of building a supercompter for a million dollars, you take commodity computers worth tens of thousands, and make them work like a supercomputer.

Networking Pipeline: What are the benefits of load balancing for the midsize or smaller enterprise customer?

Kopparapu: It's about scalability, high availability, and it can also be a security gateway. You can view load balancers as a bridge between a network and a service. One one side it speaks networking protocols, on the other side it understands server applications and APIs. By occupying that confluence, a load balancer can bring along benefits besides simple scalability.

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