Global Server Load Balancing - GSLB

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What is GSLB?

Citrix ADC appliances configured for GSLB provide disaster recovery and ensure continuous availability of applications by protecting against points of failure in a WAN. GSLB balances the load across data centers by directing client requests to the closest or best-performing data center, or to surviving data centers if there is an outage.

In a typical configuration, a local DNS server sends client requests to a GSLB virtual server, to which are bound GSLB services. A GSLB service identifies a load balancing or content switching virtual server, which can be at the local site or a remote site. If the GSLB virtual server selects a load balancing or content switching virtual server at a remote site, it sends the virtual server’s IP address to the DNS server. The DNS server sends it to the client. The client then resends the request to the new virtual server at the new IP.

The GSLB entities that you must configure are the GSLB sites, the GSLB services, the GSLB virtual servers, load balancing or content switching virtual servers, and authoritative DNS (ADNS) services. You must also configure MEP. You can also configure DNS views to expose different parts of your network to clients accessing the network from different locations.

Note: To take full advantage of GSLB features, use ADC appliances for load balancing or content switching at each data center, so that your GSLB configuration can use the proprietary MEP to exchange site metrics.

How GSLB works

With ordinary DNS, when a client sends a domain name system (DNS) request, it receives a list of IP addresses of the domain or service. Generally, the client chooses the first IP address in the list and initiates a connection with that server. The DNS server uses a technique called DNS round robin to rotate through the IPs on the list. It sends the first IP address to the end of the list and promotes the others after it responds to each DNS request. This technique ensures equal distribution of the load, but it does not support disaster recovery, load balancing based on load or proximity of servers, or persistency.

When you configure GSLB on ADC appliances and enable MEP, the DNS infrastructure is used to connect the client to the data center that best meets the set criteria. The criteria can designate the following:

  • Least loaded data center
  • Closest data center
  • The datacenter that responds most quickly to requests from the client’s location
  • A combination of those metrics and SNMP metrics.

An appliance tracks the location, performance, load, and availability of each data center. It uses these factors to select the data center to send the client request.

A GSLB configuration consists of a group of GSLB entities on each appliance in the configuration. These entities include GSLB sites, GSLB services, GSLB service groups, GSLB virtual servers, load balancing servers, content switching servers, and ADNS services.

Important Points in GSLB:

What is the process to upgrade the firmware in GSLB configuration?

  • If your GSLB is in Active-Active configuration, you can pick any NetScaler in your GSLB environment and upgrade the firmware. While a particular NetScaler is rebooting, you can go to Traffic Management, GSLB, Sites and check which node is down.

After setting up GSLB, How do we know if it is in Active-Active or Active-Passive configuration?

  • Open GSLB vserver, if backup virtual server is not configured, it is active-active and the GSLB site will be configured as parent site in active-active configuration. Click on your GSLB site to see this parent site or backup parent sites option. If active/passive, site will be configured as backup parent sites.

Should we run any configuration sync command before we start the upgrade?

  • If your GSLB is in active-active mode, sync commands are not needed.

In active-active mode, should we follow any process like, disable GSLB, perform the firmware upgrade, and Enable GSLB again?

  • Not needed in active-active mode.

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