Businesses worldwide depend on Microsoft Exchange for a variety of communications applications from email services and collaboration tools to calendars. To ensure the performance of these critical business applications, Microsoft Exchange needs to be highly available to withstand outages, prevent downtime, and protect the system during maintenance and upgrades. It also often requires geographically redundant deployments for disaster recovery and the ability to fail over to backup sites if the system falters.
To achieve high availability for your Exchange deployment, load balancing is essential. But what should you look for in a load balancer? Below we’ve highlighted the top four features your load balancer needs to keep your Exchange apps up-and-running and performing optimally.
1. Layer 7 Health Checks
Why do you need it? It’s essential to thoroughly and regularly examine the status of your servers to spot potential problems and optimize performance. You need a complete and accurate view of system health. While a simple port check might show that a port is open, it would not be able to tell you if users are unable to log in to the Exchange server. To understand what’s really going on in your system, you need granular insight.
What does it do? Layer 7 health checks provide a more accurate assessment of the health of an Exchange server than a port check. By testing protocols including HTTP, SSL, LDAP, Redis and MySQL, the health checks deliver a complete picture of how your system is performing. Ideally your load balancer will also allow you to customize the health checks to meet your specific performance requirements by setting parameters for frequency and the rise and fall counts (i.e., how many good or bad responses to health checks are required before determining a server is up or down).
What are the benefits? Layer 7 health checks minimize downtime for Exchange users. When a health check triggers a warning or error, you can send users to a server that is online or to one that is performing faster if their current server is overloaded.
2. Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB)
Why do you need it? Many businesses deploy MS Exchange at more than one data center. This is sometimes due to capacity demands – as businesses grow, they add more Exchange servers in multiple locations. Most often, multi-site deployments are for disaster recovery reasons – if one site goes down, another site in a different geographic location takes over so that there is no downtime or service degradation.
What does it do? GSLB enables businesses to reroute traffic to another data center site in the event of a total failure in a data center. In provides geographic redundancy and intelligently routes traffic globally.
What are the benefits? Simply, your MS Exchange will always stay online. If a site fails, GSLB ensures users are not impacted by sending traffic to other sites.
3. Support for Exchange 2010, 2013 and 2016
Why do you need it? It’s likely that you’re running an older version of Exchange and have plans to upgrade to a new version in future. You’re not going to want to update your load balancer as well. You need to a load balancer that can support multiple versions of Exchange.
What does it do? A load balancer designed to support Exchange 2010, 2013 and 2016 provides flexibility and a future-proofed solution.
What are the benefits? No matter what version of Exchange you’re using, or when you decide to upgrade, your load balancer will have you covered.
4. Backup Support
Why do you need it? If a server slows down or goes down, you’ll need designated backup servers to fail-over to. The backup servers might be in a different location (as described above for GSLB) or within the same data center.
What does it do? This feature allows you to fortify your primary servers with backup servers that are available when needed in the event of a failure. The load balancer redirects traffic to the backup servers, whether it’s over-the-wire (i.e., across the internet or a WAN connection) or to another physical location.
What are the benefits? With a robust backup solution, your system will always stay online.
An Exchange outage of any duration will have a nearly instant impact on employee productivity. These four must-have load balancing features will ensure your Microsoft Exchange deployment is protected against failures and your communications apps are uninterrupted.
Snapt is a software-based Microsoft Exchange load balancer that supports these key features and many more.
To learn how Snapt is ideal for Microsoft Exchange, try it out for free or book a demo.