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Best Load Balancing Software Shortlist

These are the load balancers I’ve found that address traffic most comprehensively, along with a brief description of what they do best:

  1. IBM Cloud - Best for flexible deployments
  2. Amazon Lightsail - Best for lightweight apps and websites
  3. NGINX Plus - Best for minimal hardware
  4. NodeBalancer - Best for small businesses
  5. Google Cloud - Best for active development teams
  6. Azure - Best for ongoing scaling
  7. AWS Elastic Load Balancing - Best for large-scale apps and websites
  8. Barracuda Networks Software - Best customer support
  9. Citrix NetScaler WAF - Best for stateless applications
  10. Fastly - Best for content-aware routing
  11. SANtricity - Best for automatic load balancing
  12. Kemp Virtual Loadmaster - Best for test-driven development

Finding a reliable load balancing solution that works for the scope of your operations and tech stack can be a hassle for even a reasonably technical person.

In the list below are my picks for the best load balancing software, along with screenshots and the reasons I picked each one. I’ve also included pricing information and the criteria I used to create the shortlist.

What Is Load Balancing Software?

Load balancing software analyzes inbound traffic and distributes it across multiple servers. This provides users with smooth access to websites and applications, and it helps media like video and audio load at their intended quality, even during peak hours.

Overviews of the 12 Best Load Balancing Software

I’ve assessed each tool below in depth based on how robust their feature sets are, their cost-effectiveness, and more. I’ve included my reasons for picking them as well as a comparison chart that summarizes all the information.

Here are my picks for top load balancing services:

1. IBM Cloud - Best for flexible deployments

Using the load balancers in IBM Cloud
Configuring IBM Cloud load balancers for virtual private cloud workloads. (Source)

IBM Cloud offers a variety of load balances depending on your traffic volumes, allowing for scaling. The options are classic and virtual private cloud (VPC) load balancers.

Why I Picked IBM Cloud

I picked IBM Cloud for its support of virtual servers for VPC infrastructure, which creates a hybrid cloud model that allows for more flexible deployments. Companies that want to reap the benefits of public cloud computing but want to keep certain parts of their operations on-premises can implement this approach to load balancing.

IBM Cloud Standout Features and Integrations

Features in IBM Cloud that I liked for hybrid cloud usage include round robin and least connections capabilities for intelligent distribution of traffic. You also get multiple options for deployment, including the built-in interface, an Application Programming Interface (API), and Terraform.

Integrations are available with Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) when you use IBM API Connect.

Pricing: From $0.012/hour

Trial:Free demo available


  • Strong support for hybrid clouds
  • API for custom integrations
  • Several locations to choose from


  • Complex documentation
  • The interface is not beginner-friendly

2. Amazon Lightsail - Best for lightweight apps and websites

Using Amazon Lightsail for load balancing
Configuring and deploying a MySQL database in Amazon Lightsail. (Source)

Amazon Lightsail is part of the AWS family of cloud-native products. There are several other load balancing options within the catalog, but Lightsail makes the most sense for smaller operations.

Why I Picked Amazon Lightsail

I picked Amazon Lightsail because of how its tiers are organized, where the entry-level gives you a virtual server with 512MB of memory running on a single-core processor. For a lightweight app or website, this should be enough to handle most user requests and the occasional spikes.

Amazon Lightsail Standout Features and Integrations

Features that made me recommend Lightsail for lightweight applications that are sill in their early stages include an intuitive management console that makes it easy for beginners to operate and configure the load balancer. There’s a different version called Lightsail for Research that lets you run analytical functions in the cloud with Jupyter, RStudio, and Scilab preloaded.

Integrations are available natively with most other products in the AWS lineup, including Amplify, Beanstalk, Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Lambda, Batch, Local Zones, Outposts, Auto Scaling, Wavelength, and SimSpace Weaver.

Pricing: From $0.025/hour

Trial:Free trial available


  • AWS integrations
  • Beginner friendly
  • Predictable billing


  • Poor customer support on low tiers
  • Hard to deploy with third-party providers

3. NGINX Plus - Best for minimal hardware

Using the NGINX Plus load balancer
Monitoring requests and other metrics with NGINX Plus. (Source)

NGINX Plus is a premium alternative to the open-source NGINX, both of which are developed and maintained by the same core team. Plus, however, brings additional perks with its price tag, most notably customer support.

Why I Picked NGINX Plus

I picked NGINX Plus because it’s lightweight, making it a suitable choice for on-premise deployments running minimal hardware. With customer support at your fingertips, you can comfortably maintain a private server and not worry about putting out every fire by yourself.

NGINX Plus Standout Features and Integrations

Features include the same things you get with NGINX, which I’ve found leaves a very small footprint on hardware, along with some enterprise-grade additions like active health checks that give you insight into the state of your servers. You also get DNS service discovery and an API that purges caches.

Integrations include native support for Kubernetes, AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Azure, and major versions of Linux like Ubuntu, Oracle, Alpine, and Redhat.

Pricing: From $0.425/hour

Trial:Free trial available


  • Strong customer support
  • DNS service discovery
  • Active health checks


  • Difficult initial configuration
  • Licensing model

4. NodeBalancer - Best for small businesses

Using NodeBalancer for load balancing
You can view a summary of each active NodeBalancer if you’re using multiple. (Source)

Linode, a cloud service company that provided virtual machines, servers, and infrastructure, introduced NodeBalancer as a load balancing solution. Akamai acquired Linode in 2022 and integrated it into its own offerings the following year, but NodeBalancer is still available.

Why I Picked NodeBalancer

I picked NodeBalancer because of how well the company behind it lays out what it means to switch to the solution, so you have a clear idea of what you’re getting into. Aside from pricing information, you also know the kinds of servers available and aren’t locked in, making it easy for a small business to feel it out.

NodeBalancer Standout Features and Integrations

Features that I believe small businesses will love include sticky sessions that have your NodeBalancers send all requests through the same back end, allowing for sessions to work more smoothly. Throttling sets a restriction on a NodeBalancer to prevent misuse and protect resources on your back end.

Integrations are available natively with Terraform, Pulumi, Rancher, and Ansible, as well as other products from the Akamai Connected Cloud.

Pricing: From $0.015/hr

Trial:Free demo available


  • Transparent pricing
  • Built-in throttler for resource protection
  • Integrations with Akamai and Linode services


  • Slow customer service
  • Future uncertain with Linode acquisition

5. Google Cloud Load Balancing - Best for active development teams

Using the load balancing features in Google Cloud
Configuring background services for the HTTP(S) balancer in Google Cloud Load Balancing. (Source)

Google Cloud Load Balancing is a fully distributed part of the Google Cloud platform with more than 80 distinct locations. It can balance HTTP(S), TCP/SSL, and UDP traffic.

Why I Picked Google Cloud Load Balancing

Google Cloud Load Balancing stood out to me because it takes a different approach from the competition by going to great lengths to keep its different load balancer types in one place rather than split them into separate services.

When you get started with the platform, you’re presented with a detailed flowchart that you can follow to find a load balancer that you think might work, and if it doesn’t, it’s very easy to switch over to a different one because of the way they’re set up.

This makes it ideal for teams that are constantly iterating upon their product with requirements that change frequently.

Google Cloud Load Balancing Standout Features and Integrations

Features that I believe help active developers work smarter include Cloud Armor integration, which provides advanced security capabilities that protect you against application and DDoS attacks with strong web application firewall (WAF) functions. High-fidelity health checks ensure you know the status of your service and can act on issues early before they become serious. It’s also built on the same infrastructure that serves the front end of Google, meaning it can support up to 1 million requests per second.

Integrations are available natively with Google Cloud Content Delivery Network (CDN) and Google Cloud Armor.

Pricing: From $0.025/hour

Trial:Free demo available


  • Strong collaborative features
  • Easy to set up
  • User-friendly interface


  • Complex documentation
  • Slow customer support

6. Azure Load Balancer - Best for ongoing scaling

Using Microsoft Azure for load balancing
Creating a new load balancer in Azure Load Balancer. (Source)

Azure Load Balancer is one of four load balancing options available on the Microsoft Azure platform. It operates on Layer 4 of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model.

Why I picked Azure Load Balancer

I picked Azure Load Balancer because it has three sub-units, namely Standard, Basic, and Gateway, all of which serve different situations with targeted pricing, scaling capabilities, and other features. This makes it an attractive choice for businesses looking to scale upward or downward because they don’t have to relocate their operations as they cross thresholds.

Azure Load Balancer Standout Features and Integrations

Features that I think will help you scale operations include support for millions of flows on all UDP and TCP applications while maintaining high latency and low throughput. Health probes let you automate status monitoring, so it’s easy to scale upwards.

You can also take more control of your platform if you configure rules that determine how the load balancer distributes inbound traffic. With High Availability (HA) ports, you can use one rule to distribute UDP and TCP flows for increased scale and availability within virtual networks for network virtual appliances (NVAs).

Integrations are available with Azure Virtual Machine Scale Sets, Microsoft Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Azure Virtual Machines, and Valtix.

Pricing: From $0.025/hour

Trial:Free demo available


  • Health probes
  • Support for millions of flows
  • Comprehensive Layer 4 coverage


  • No SLAs on Basic
  • No Layer 7 balancing

7. AWS Elastic Load Balancing - Best for large-scale apps and websites

Using the AWS ELB for load balancing
Setting up an Elastic Load Balancer within Elastic Beanstalk. (Source)

Elastic Load Balancer is one of the load balancers available within the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform. It splits its main features across four levels: Application, Network, Gateway, and Classic Load Balancers.

Why I picked AWS Elastic Load Balancer

I chose AWS Elastic Load Balancer for its ability to distribute traffic across a variety of targets, such as virtual machine instances, containers, IP addresses, Lambda functions, and appliances, to single or multi-availability zones. This ensures that overall capacity can scale upward or downward depending on demand and increases your system’s availability.

AWS Elastic Load Balancer Standout Features and Integrations

Features I like in ELB for large-scale operations include health checks that automatically distribute incoming traffic to healthy targets. High throughput accounts for traffic patterns that are prone to sudden changes, while Amazon CloudWatch monitors and logs metrics like error and request counts, types, and latency.

Integrations include native support for other AWS services such as Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Instances, Elastic Container Service (ECS), Certificate Manager, CloudWatch, and AWS Web Application Firewall.

Pricing: From $0.0225/hour

Trial:Free plan available


  • High potential for scalability
  • Health checks that ensure availability
  • Strong AWS integrations


  • Limited control and customization options
  • Gets expensive fast

8. Barracuda Networks Web Application Firewall - Best customer support

Using the Barracuda Networks load balancing software alternative
Configuring the Barracuda Networks web application firewall in Azure. (Source)

Barracuda Networks provides physical load balancers but also has a software alternative in the form of its Web Application Firewall for more flexible deployments. It’s a cloud-native solution that protects web apps and gives you insights into their performance as well as granular control all in one place.

Why I picked Barracuda Networks Web Application Firewall

I chose Barracuda Networks because it has a very strong approach to customer service with a responsive department. The company has dedicated lines for major regions such as EMEA, Australia, China, Japan, and India and says that all requests for assistance go straight to a live person.

Barracuda Networks Standout Features and Integrations

Features that complement the customer service team include adaptive profiling, which samples traffic from reliable hosts to let admins implement whitelist rules on vulnerable sectors to reduce threats. It also protects against bots to keep scraping, inventory hoarding, spam, and similar types of attacks at bay, which all teams can benefit from in my opinion.

There’s also a built-in engine that automates the creation and maintenance of configurations on complex applications by analyzing traffic to provide recommendations.

Integrations are pre-built for third-party platforms like Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and AWS.

Pricing: Pricing upon request

Trial:Free trial + free demo


  • Strong customer support
  • Easy integration with hardware load balancers if needed
  • User-friendly interface


  • Limited third-party integrations
  • Steep learning curve for in-depth features

9. Citrix NetScaler WAF - Best for stateless apps

Managing load balancers within Citrix NetScaler Web Application Firewall (WAF)
Managing virtual servers on Citrix NetScaler WAF with no downtime. (Source)

Citrix NetScaler is an application delivery controller (ADC) that provides Layer 4 and 7 balancing as well as identity management, security, and other functions. The version I’m going to discuss is a software alternative to the hardware option from the same company, also under the NetScaler brand.

Why I Picked Citrix NetScaler WAF

I picked NetScaler because of its built-in Remote Desktop Policy (RDP) proxy that also allows for stateless configuration. When you set this up, you can use the Citrix Secure Ticket Authority (STA) server to manage the short-term requests that are typical of stateless applications.

Citrix NetScaler WAF Standout Features and Integrations

Features that really stand out to me include support for both Layer 4 and Layer 7 balancing, making for a comprehensive solution. The native RDP proxy also ensures that users’ sessions aren’t affected by outages, even at higher traffic levels, making stateless applications more reliable. Granular analytics lets you detect misuse and attacks early and take action.

Integrations include pre-built support for Azure Active Directory (AD), Okta, Duo, CyberArk, and Zendesk Blumira.

Pricing: Pricing upon request

Trial:Free demo available


  • User-friendly interface
  • Flexible
  • Wide range of configuration options


  • Complex initial configuration
  • Sparse documentation

10. Fastly - Best content-aware routing

Using Fastly for load balancing
Configuring user agent blocklists for load management within Fastly. (Source)

Fastly is a cloud platform that allows users to improve their services’ speed, scale, and security, and one of its products is a Layer-7 load balancer.

Why I Picked Fastly

I picked Fastly because it manages inbound HTTP and HTTPS requests with in-depth content-aware routing decisions to allow you to set rules for how you want traffic redirected. With these rules, you can improve responses before they go out and provide a strong foundation for your infrastructure.

Fastly Standout Features and Integrations

Features I love include the ability to instantly scale up to several terabits per second (Tbps), allowing for smooth, rapid growth. It also offers granular control over both content-aware and other routing decisions for streamlined scaling and visibility.

Integrations include native support for Google Cloud, Azure, and AWS.

Pricing: From $50/month

Trial:Free demo available


  • In-depth configuration options
  • Future-proofing with HTTP/3 support
  • Strong content-aware routing


  • Opaque pricing
  • Difficult initial setup

11. SANtricity - Best automatic load balancing

Using SANtricity software for load balancing
Managing configurations within the SANtricity System Manager. (Source)

SANtricity, developed by NetApp, is a data management solution that aims to be reliable, simple, and high-performing, with a host of services that include a load balancer.

Why I Picked SANtricity

I picked SANtricity because of its automatic load balancer that reacts dynamically to load changes and corrects imbalances by changing volume controller ownership, taking a load off your team’s shoulders.

SANtricity Standout Features and Integrations

Features include automated proactive health monitoring that catches issues before they cause significant damage. The Grid Manager lets you take more control over your load balancing endpoints, a feature I think is invaluable.

Integrations are built in for other SANtricity products like Secure CLI, Powershell Toolkit APIs, and Performance App for Splunk Enterprise.

Pricing: Available upon request

Trial:Free trial available


  • Ease of use
  • Strong automation capabilities
  • Strong customer support


  • Opaque pricing
  • Limited integrations

12. Kemp Virtual LoadMaster - Best for test-driven development

Using Kemp Technologies' LoadMaster for load balancing
Deploying Kemp Virtual LoadMaster in Azure. (Source)

Kemp is another provider of both hardware and software load balancing solutions, and the one I’m looking at here falls into the latter category; The Virtual LoadMaster.

Why I Picked Kemp Virtual LoadMaster

The Virtual LoaMaster caught my eye with its wide array of preset configurations that you can implement via templates from right within the UI. They’re organized by specific use cases and applications, making them valuable time-saving tools for teams that are still figuring out which direction they want to take their projects.

Kemp Virtual LoadMaster Standout Features and Integrations

Features that stood out most to me include access to Kemp 360, which gives you additional monitoring and diagnostic information on your entire system, useful for test-driven teams. On higher tiers, you also get identity management features like authentication, authorization, and single sign-on (SSO). Round-the-clock customer service is available, along with daily threat updates.

Integrations include native support for IBM Cloud, Azure, VMWare, Citrix, and Oracle.

Pricing: From $0.20/hour

Trial:Free trial available


  • Strong customer support
  • Useful configuration presets
  • Perpetual license available


  • Unintuitive UI/UX design
  • More expensive than most other options

Other Options

I’ve created a list for some other tools that didn’t make the main shortlist but might still be worth a look:

  1. HAProxy - Best open-source option
  2. Scaleway - Best for Europe-based traffic management
  3. Microhost - Best customer service
  4. Traefik - Best Docker management features
  5. Consul - Best service discovery
  6. Gcore - Best Kubernetes management features
  7. Edgenexus - Best user interface
  8. Akamai Ion - Best CDN integration

Selection Criteria for Load Balancing Software

Here are some of the key aspects I was assessing when making my picks for the best load balancing software.

Core Functionality

I looked at each option’s ability to handle the expected levels of traffic for the levels at which I was recommending them, with features such as:

  • How they ensure availability, and how robust the fail-safes are
  • Which protocols they support, a factor that determines which layer they can operate on
  • How many requests they can handle at their highest tiers
  • For companies that also manufacture physical load balancers, how independent are the software alternatives?

Key Features

Each option needed to be future-proof, with features that don’t hold users back, including:

  • Being able to function on a variety of deployments, from on-premise to third-party platforms
  • Security and encryption as traffic gets routed out to different servers
  • Support for modern protocols


I prioritized tools that made sense for the level at which I was evaluating them. For example, if it’s something for a small team with limited technical knowledge, I looked more into tools with an easy-to-navigate user interface that didn’t rely on a command line for the bulk of tasks.

Value for Money

Because load balancing is tied directly to scaling, I looked at products whose performance kept up with the price tag. If I was recommending something for a small company where the starting price seemed steep, the features needed to make a strong case and potentially allow them to save money elsewhere, possibly in development costs.

People Also Ask

If you still feel like you need some more info to really get load balancing down, here are some answers to questions you might have.


The load balancing software you choose should match your operations, both internal and external. If you have a heavy user base, you should look at one that scales but retains a favorable ROI at higher tiers. If you have a small team or one that isn’t able to dedicate a lot of time to back-end management, you should consider one that does as much of the heavy lifting for you as possible.

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Paulo Gardini Miguel
By Paulo Gardini Miguel

Paulo is the Director of Technology at the rapidly growing media tech company BWZ. Prior to that, he worked as a Software Engineering Manager and then Head Of Technology at Navegg, Latin America’s largest data marketplace, and as Full Stack Engineer at MapLink, which provides geolocation APIs as a service. Paulo draws insight from years of experience serving as an infrastructure architect, team leader, and product developer in rapidly scaling web environments. He’s driven to share his expertise with other technology leaders to help them build great teams, improve performance, optimize resources, and create foundations for scalability.