3 Rules for Outsourcing Network Load Balancing
When balancing external internet traffic, experience is the key to efficient and successful optimization.
While 90% of load balancing is done within a single geographic location and can often be managed in-house, the remaining 10% of geographically dispersed load balancing is an incredibly high risk and often expensive undertaking. And it’s not unusual for companies to need optimization, especially as cost effective data centers are often nowhere near corporate headquarters or satellite offices.
There are any numbers of methods and algorithms to save on latency from hybrid metaheuristic to ant colony and more, in addition to numerous hardware/software options. The biggest problem with any of the approaches is that no one is going to set up a different data center environment for testing because it would be too cost prohibitive, so no matter which you choose, optimization would require downtime and offer a very limited amount of time for testing.
Internet load balancing configuration isn’t something you can work on in the lab, iterate through testing and then roll out, offering a good business case for outsourcing. When downtime can cost $300,000 per minute and so many things can go wrong, even large companies with the in-house talent prefer to work with an outside firm that has particular expertise in large implementations and will bear the burden of risk. With that said, here are three essential rules to follow when considering potential IT agencies that can help optimize your internet network load balancing:
Rule #1: Insist on a live meeting with the IT engineers assigned to your account
Bringing the actual engineers into a meeting is a great way for CIOs to assess the credibility of the team, solidify everyone has a firm understanding of your business needs, and create a level of comfort essential for such a high-risk, high-cost project. It is not unusual for IT agencies to bring only a sales engineer along to sign off on the statement of work, and then assign unfamiliar junior engineers to complete the actual work. Internet load balancing requires strong expertise. If something needs to be tuned or traffic doesn’t go to the right place the downtime costs can be show stopping, especially if you offer a commercial service online. Look for a team that:
- Has the technical skill
- Is completely transparent
- Establishes a system for working with your internal IT staff, not just outside of it
- Brings seasoned project management talent
Rule #2: Evaluate the IT agency’s relationship with the hardware vendor
Your outsourced team should be able to create an alignment between your needs and the technology available, but many service providers have partnered with hardware companies to increase their credibility. Although it can hard to find, choosing an IT agency that is vendor agnostic means you’ll be getting broad expertise and a true assessment of your equipment investment. Perhaps one hardware vendor offers all the functionality you need at a better price. A vendor-agnostic partner can also ensure the hardware isn’t close to the end of its lifecycle. New equipment is typically released every 3 years, so timing is essential to efficiency. If it makes sense to delay your project a couple of months to wait for a new hardware release, you’ll want to know that in advance.
Rule #3: Look for a flexible long-term partner
Evaluate how much support you’ll need based on internal capabilities, logistics, and business goals, but also what kind of support you can get from your outsource IT team. Support contracts often run for 3-5 years and can be outrageously priced, resulting in an upside down ROl just for simple maintenance, but you’ll likely need some level of outside assistance. Plan to partner with an IT agency that can provide flexible and trusted support designed to suit your business objectives.
Considering attempting it in-house? Read Elements of a Successful System and Network Load Balancing Design first.