Microsoft unveils new version of Azure Load Balancer

Microsoft recently unveiled a new version of its Azure Load Balancer platform. This new Load Balancer is designed to be more efficient and advanced than users may have been used to in past versions. Basically, Microsoft is bringing a whole new set of abilities for users to manage their customer workloads within the new Standard Load Balancer. Here are some of the major changes and what they mean for users.

What’s new with Azure Load Balancer?

One of the most noticeable additions to the new platform is a simplified and more predictable outbound port allocation algorithm. Deployments within Azure use one or more of the platform’s three available scenarios for outbound connectivity. The scenario or scenarios chosen depend on your deployment model and the resources utilized and configured. To enable those scenarios, Azure uses Source Network Address Translation (SNAT), which is one of the main reasons behind the platform’s new improvements.

New SNAT Algorithm

The previous version of SNAT port allocation that Azure deployments used was designed to be dynamic. It allocated 160 ports per instance of outbound ports to start with and then followed an on-demand model from there. Now, the Azure Load Balancer platform is introducing a more robust port allocation algorithm that’s a bit simpler and easier to predict. In this new model, all the available ports are pre-allocated and distributed evenly throughout the backend pool of the Load Balancer, with the exact number of each group depending on the overall pool size. For now, all existing deployments in Azure will continue to use the older SNAT allocation system, while new deployments will use the new method.

How to make use of the new Azure Load Balancer

These updates are already rolling out to all Azure users automatically. If you’re looking to learn more and make a smooth adjustment to the new system, you can check out the scenarios and patterns described in Azure’s Managing SNAT port exhaustion guide. Because this is a platform level change, no exceptions will be granted to users. However, Azure Support is available to help and ensure that you don’t experience any disruption to your services.

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