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To avoid major Web application rework and redesign, you should from the very beginning of your development process consider cluster-related programming issues, as well as critical setup and configuration decisions in order to support intelligent load balancing and failover. Finally, you will need to have a management strategy to handle failures.
Read the whole "J2EE clustering" series:
Building on the information in Part 1, I'll impart an applied understanding of clustering. Further, I'll examine clustering-related issues and their possible solutions, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each choice. I'll also demonstrate programming guidelines for clustering. Finally, I'll show you how to prepare for outages. (Note that, due to licensing constraints, this article will not cover benchmarking.)
During cluster setup, you need to make important decisions. First, you have to choose a load balancing method. Second, you must decide how to support server affinity. Finally, you need to determine how you will deploy the server instances among clustered nodes.
You can choose between two generally recognized options for load balancing a cluster: DNS (Domain Name Service) round robin or hardware load balancers.
DNS is the process by which a logical name (i.e., www.javaworld.com) is converted to an IP address. In DNS round-robin load balancing, a single logical name can return any IP address of the machines in a cluster.
DNS round-robin load balancing's advantages include:
Its disadvantages include:
In contrast, a hardware load balancer (like F5's Big IP) solves most of these problems through virtual IP addressing. A load balancer presents to the world a single IP address for the cluster. The load balancer receives each request and rewrites headers to point to other machines in the cluster. If you remove any machine in the cluster, the changes take effect immediately.