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Load Balancers

Cloud Load Balancers distribute traffic between a pool of your servers, allowing you to scale your systems and have automatic fault tolerance. The balancer runs continuous health checks and removes any unresponsive servers from the pool until they recover.

Load Balancers are of course completely configurable via our API, and therefore also via our CLI tool.

This guide will show you how to create a new Load Balancer, add some servers and test it out. For more in-depth documentation, see the Cloud Load Balancer Reference.

Creating a new balancer

You manage Load Balancers using the brightbox lbs command. We’re going to create a new balancer called test that will balance between two web servers. It balances ports 80 and 443 by default, so we don’t need any other options:

$ brightbox lbs create -n "test" srv-hrmmb srv-h4lxv
Creating a new load balancer

 id         status    created_on  cloud_ips  nodes                 name
 lba-c76a7  creating  2011-01-25             srv-hrmmb, srv-h4lxv  test

If we view the details of this new balancer, we can see that it is listening on port 80 in http mode and port 443 using tcp mode by default and each of those listeners is health checking on port 80 with an http request. If three http requests to the backend servers fail in a row then the server will be taken out of the pool until it recovers. Both listeners have an inactive connection timeout of 50000ms (50 seconds):

$ brightbox lbs show lba-c76a7
         id: lba-c76a7
     status: active
       name: test
 created_at: 2011-01-25T17:48:20Z
     policy: least-connections
      nodes: srv-hrmmb, srv-h4lxv
  listeners: 80:80:http:50000, 443:443:tcp:50000
healthcheck: {"threshold_down"=>3, "port"=>80, "timeout"=>5000, "type"=>"http", "request"=>"/", "interval"=>5000, "threshold_up"=>3}

Mapping a Cloud IP to a Load Balancer

Once the balancer is created, we now map a Cloud IP to make it available via the Internet:

$ brightbox cloudips map cip-tqg43 lba-c76a7
Mapping cip-tqg43 to load balancer lba-c76a7

 id         status  public_ip       destination  reverse_dns
 cip-tqg43  mapped  lba-c76a7    cip-109-107-35-157.gb1.brightbox.com

Cloud Balancing in action

Now that our balancer has an IP, we can use curl to see it in action:

$ curl
I am server srv-hrmmb

$ curl
I am server srv-h4lxv

$ curl
I am server srv-hrmmb

$ curl
I am server srv-h4lxv


By default, each Load Balancer is created with two listeners: one listening on port 80 in http mode and another listening on port 443 in tcp mode.

You can specify your own listeners in the format in-port:out-port:type:timeout (you can comma separate multiple listeners).

  • in-port is the port that the Load Balancer listens on for incoming connections
  • out-port is the port the load balancer will connect to on your back end servers - this will usually be the same as in-port
  • type is the mode, currently http, https or tcp
  • timeout is the time (in milliseconds) after which inactive connections will be closed. It defaults to 50 seconds if not specified.

In http and https mode, HTTP requests get a X-Forwarded-For header added as they pass through the balancer, so your back-end servers can see the user’s IP address. TCP mode doesn’t modify the request at all, so it can be used for SSL and other types of connections (like MySQL or SMTP).

In http mode, Load Balancers can handle standard HTTP traffic and WebSockets traffic over the same port, the timeout will be applied to standard HTTP traffic, whilst WebSockets connections will be given a fixed timeout of 1 day.


If you want to change your balancer to handle your mail servers you could change the listeners for IMAP and SSL IMAP:

$ brightbox lbs update -l 143:143:tcp,993:993:tcp lba-c76a7

If you want your site available on multiple ports 80, 90 and 100, you’d use:

$ brightbox lbs update -l 80:80:http,90:80:http,100:80:http lba-c76a7

All of these options can be set at creation time too.

Health Checks

By default, the cli will set up a health check based on your first listener. So if your first listener is tcp port 25 (SMTP), then the health check will be a tcp connect to port 25 on your back end servers.

If your first listener is a http listener than the health check will be a HTTP request expecting a HTTP 200 response.

You can, of course, specify your own health checks.

To make a http health check request for /status.html on your back end servers:

$ brightbox lbs update --hc-type=http --hc-port=80 --hc-request="/status.html" lba-c76a7

To make a tcp connect check on port 22:

$ brightbox lbs update --hc-type=tcp --hc-port=22 lba-c76a7

The options --hc-down and --hc-up set how many consecutive health checks need to fail or succeed for the back end server to be considered down, or up.

The option --hc-timeout specifies how long the balancer will wait for a successful response to a health check. If your back end server doesn’t respond in this time then the health check is considered a failure.

All these options can be set at creation time too.

Last updated: 17 May 2022 at 15:23 UTC

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