Set up cross-region load balancing for Microsoft IIS web servers

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This tutorial describes how to use HTTP(S) Load Balancing to distribute traffic to Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) web servers running on Compute Engine VMs that are provisioned in different regions.

Objective

This tutorial shows you how to load balance traffic for the site www.example.com and ensure that:

  • Incoming requests are routed to the closest region.
  • If an instance fails or reaches its capacity, the load balancer routes requests to other responsive instances in the same or a different region.

The configuration for this scenario uses an external HTTP(S) load balancer that takes requests through a single global IP address. This IP address can route each incoming request by connection type—that is, HTTP or HTTPS. For HTTPS requests, the load balancer implements SSL/TLS encryption between the client sending the request and the load balancer.

The following diagram shows the load balancer architecture:

Cross-region load balancing.

Note that the load balancer includes several components for maximum configurability. For a description of what each component does, see the HTTP(S) Load Balancing overview.

This tutorial shows you how to complete the following tasks to reach your objective:

  • Set up the backend instances.
  • Create and configure the load balancing service.
  • Send traffic to the backends.
  • Restrict access to the backends.
  • Simulate an outage.

Costs

This tutorial uses the following billable components of Google Cloud:

  • Compute Engine virtual machine (VM) instances
  • Compute Engine persistent disks
  • (Optional) Google-managed SSL certificate
  • Windows Server 2016 machine images

To generate a cost estimate based on your projected usage, use the pricing calculator. New Google Cloud users might be eligible for a free trial.

When you finish this tutorial, you can avoid continued billing by deleting the resources you created. For more information, see Clean up.

Before you begin

  1. Sign in to your Google Cloud account. If you're new to Google Cloud, create an account to evaluate how our products perform in real-world scenarios. New customers also get $300 in free credits to run, test, and deploy workloads.
  2. In the Google Cloud console, on the project selector page, select or create a Google Cloud project.

    Go to project selector

  3. Make sure that billing is enabled for your Cloud project. Learn how to check if billing is enabled on a project.

  4. Enable the Compute Engine, BigQuery, and Cloud Firestore APIs.

    Enable the APIs

  5. Install and initialize the Google Cloud CLI.
  6. In the Google Cloud console, on the project selector page, select or create a Google Cloud project.

    Go to project selector

  7. Make sure that billing is enabled for your Cloud project. Learn how to check if billing is enabled on a project.

  8. Enable the Compute Engine, BigQuery, and Cloud Firestore APIs.

    Enable the APIs

  9. Install and initialize the Google Cloud CLI.
  10. Alternatively, you can use Cloud Shell on Google Cloud console to interact with Google Cloud, in which case you don't have to install the Google Cloud CLI.
  11. Install a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client. For more information, see Microsoft Remote Desktop clients. If you already have an RDP client installed, you can skip this task.
  12. Decide the zones and regions where the you want to provision your resources. The architecture diagram shows resources deployed in the different zones in the US and EU regions. This is just for reference. You can deploy your resources in any regions/zones of your choice.
  13. (Optional) Read and understand the HTTP(S) Load Balancing overview.

Set up your backend instances

In this section, you create two backend services in different regions. Each backend service includes two backend instances, each running a Microsoft IIS web server on Windows Server 2016. To avoid laborious manual configuration of each server, create a disk image from one server instance, and then use this image to create your other server instances.

Create and configure a Compute Engine instance

To create the instance to use as a source image:

From Google Cloud Marketplace, launch an instance of Windows Server 2016 running Microsoft IIS on Compute Engine in a zone of your choice, and set up firewall rules to allow external HTTP, HTTPS, and RDP traffic to your source image instance:

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the ASP.NET Framework Cloud Marketplace page.

    Go to Cloud Marketplace

  2. Click Launch.

  3. In the Deployment name field, enter src-img.

  4. In the Zone field, select a zone that you want to deploy the image in.

  5. In the CPU Platform and GPU section, select 2016 as the Windows Server OS Version.

  6. In the Networking - Firewall section, select only the following options:

    • Allow HTTP traffic
    • Allow HTTPS traffic
    • Allow RDP traffic

  7. Accept the terms of service and click Deploy.

  8. Wait for the Compute Engine instance to be created.

Configure your source image instance

To configure your new source image instance, create a new Windows user on the source image instance and establish an RDP connection:

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the VM instances page.

    Go to VM instances

  2. Click the name of your source image instance (src-img).

  3. Click Set Windows password.

  4. In the Set new Windows password dialog, add your username and click Set to create the user account on your instance.

  5. Copy the provided password and close the dialog.

  6. Click the RDP dropdown and select the Download the RDP file option to download the RDP file for your instance. Use this file to connect to the instance using an RDP client. For more information, see Microsoft Remote Desktop clients.

After you establish an RDP connection with your source image instance, add a default homepage in the IIS default web directory:

  1. On your source image instance, open PowerShell as an administrator.

  2. Create a new homepage in the default IIS web directory C:\inetpub\wwwroot:

    Echo '<!doctype html><html><body><h1>Hello World!</h1></body></html>' > C:\inetpub\wwwroot\index.html
    

Verify that your source image instance can serve content

In the Google Cloud console, go to the VM instances page.

Go to VM instances

Click the external IP address of your instance to verify that it is serving the homepage you created earlier.

Create a reusable Windows Server 2016 image from your source image instance

After verifying that your source image instance is properly configured and able to serve content, create a reusable disk image from the instance's root persistent disk:

  1. On your source image instance, open PowerShell as an administrator.
  2. Run the following command to prepare your system for cloning:

    GCESysprep
    

    When the GCESysprep operation completes, you are automatically disconnected from your RDP session.

  3. On your local machine, run the following command to delete your source instance while retaining its root persistent disk:

    gcloud compute instances delete src-img \
       --keep-disks=boot \
       --zone=INSTANCE_ZONE
    

    Replace INSTANCE_ZONE with the zone of your source instance.

  4. After the instance is deleted, create a new image from the root persistent disk you retained:

    gcloud compute images create win-be-img \
       --source-disk=src-img \
       --source-disk-zone=IMAGE_ZONE
    

    Replace IMAGE_ZONE with the zone that you want to create your source image in.

Create an instance template using your source image

Use the disk image from your configured Windows server as the source image for an instance template. Later, you'll configure two managed instance groups to use this template for new instances.

On your local machine, run the following command to create an instance template that uses win-be-img as the source image and rdp-tag and www-tag as instance tags:

gcloud compute instance-templates create win-be-tmpl \
    --tags=rdp-tag,www-tag \
    --image=win-be-img

Create a managed instance group for each region

In each region, create managed instance groups. After you create each instance group, the group automatically populates with two identical instances based on the instance template you defined earlier. Later, you'll configure your load balancer to treat these instance groups as backend targets.

To create your managed instance groups:

  1. On your local machine, run the following command to create a new managed instance group in the zone that you created the image in and automatically populate it with two identical instances:

    gcloud compute instance-groups managed create MANAGED_INSTANCE_GROUP_NAME_1 \
       --base-instance-name=BASE_INSTANCE_NAME_1 \
       --size=2 \
       --zone=ZONE_1 \
       --template=win-be-tmpl
    

    Replace the following:

    • MANAGED_INSTANCE_GROUP_NAME_1: your managed instance's name
    • BASE_INSTANCE_NAME_1: your base instance's name
    • ZONE_1: the zone that you want to deploy your managed instance in
  2. Create a managed instance group in the second zone:

    gcloud compute instance-groups managed create MANAGED_INSTANCE_GROUP_NAME_2 \
       --base-instance-name=BASE_INSTANCE_NAME_2 \
       --size=2 \
       --zone=ZONE_2 \
       --template=win-be-tmpl
    

    Replace the following:

    • MANAGED_INSTANCE_GROUP_NAME_2: your managed instance's name
    • BASE_INSTANCE_NAME_2: your base instance's name
    • ZONE_2: the zone that you want to deploy your managed instance in

Verify that your backend instances are running

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the VM instances page.

    Go to VM instances

  2. Click the external IP address of each backend to verify that the backend is serving the homepage you created earlier.

Create and configure your load balancing service

The Compute Engine load balancing service includes several components. In this section, you'll create these components and connect them together.

  1. On your local machine, run the following command to create a new health check. Your load balancer uses this check to check the responsiveness of your backend instances:

    gcloud compute http-health-checks create basic-check
    
  2. Create a backend service:

    gcloud compute backend-services create BACKEND_SERVICE_NAME \
      --protocol=HTTP \
      --http-health-checks=basic-check \
      --global
    

    Replace BACKEND_SERVICE_NAME with a name for the backend service.

  3. Add your instance groups as backend targets for your backend service:

    gcloud compute backend-services add-backend BACKEND_SERVICE_NAME \
       --instance-group=MANAGED_INSTANCE_GROUP_NAME_1 \
       --instance-group-zone=ZONE_1
    
    gcloud compute backend-services add-backend BACKEND_SERVICE_NAME \
       --instance-group=MANAGED_INSTANCE_GROUP_NAME_2 \
       --instance-group-zone=ZONE_2
    
  4. Create a default URL map that directs all incoming requests to all of your instances:

    gcloud compute url-maps create lb-map \
       --default-service=BACKEND_SERVICE_NAME
    
  5. Create an SSL certificate resource. Your load balancer uses this resource to encrypt and decrypt traffic.

    If you already have a private key and an SSL certificate from a certificate authority, you can use them to create a new SSLCertificate resource by running the following command. Otherwise, you can create and use a Google-managed SSL certificate or a self-signed certificate for testing. For more information, see SSL certificates.

    Run the following command to create your SSL certificate resource:

    gcloud compute ssl-certificates create www-cert \
       --certificate CRT_FILE_PATH \
       --private-key KEY_FILE_PATH
    

    Replace the following:

    • CRT_FILE_PATH: your certificate's local file path
    • KEY_FILE_PATH: your private key's file path
  6. Create target HTTP and HTTPS proxies to route requests to your URL map. The proxy is the portion of the load balancer that holds the SSL certificate for HTTPS load balancing, so you also load your certificate in this step:

    gcloud compute target-http-proxies create http-lb-proxy \
       --url-map=lb-map
    
    gcloud compute target-https-proxies create https-lb-proxy \
       --url-map lb-map \
       --ssl-certificate SSL_CERT
    

    Replace SSL_CERT based on the following:

    • If you've created an SSLCertificate resource with your SSL certificate and private key, then replace SSL_CERT with www-cert.
    • If you're using a Google-managed or a self-signed SSL certificate, then replace SSL_CERT with the name of your certificate.
  7. For your load balancer to reliably receive traffic, you need to assign a global static IP address to the load balancer's global forwarding rule.

    To create a global static IP address resource, run the following command:

    gcloud compute addresses create lb-ip \
       --global \
       --network-tier=PREMIUM
    

    Take note of the IP address.

  8. Create two global forwarding rules to handle incoming HTTP and HTTPS requests. Each forwarding rule sends traffic to one of the target proxies you created depending on the IP address, IP protocol, and port specified.

    • For a global external HTTP(S) load balancer, use the gcloud CLI command with load-balancing-scheme=EXTERNAL_MANAGED. This setting offers advanced traffic management capability.
    • For an global external HTTP(S) load balancer (classic), use load-balancing-scheme=EXTERNAL.
    gcloud compute forwarding-rules create http-fwd-rule \
       --load-balancing-scheme=LOAD_BALANCING_SCHEME \
       --network-tier=PREMIUM \
       --address=lb-ip \
       --global \
       --target-http-proxy=http-lb-proxy \
       --ports=80
    
    gcloud compute forwarding-rules create https-fwd-rule \
       --load-balancing-scheme=LOAD_BALANCING_SCHEME \
       --network-tier=PREMIUM \
       --address=lb-ip \
       --global \
       --target-https-proxy=https-lb-proxy \
       --ports=443
    

After you create the global forwarding rules, it can take several minutes for your configuration to propagate. To check the progress of the propagation, you can either monitor your configuration in the Google Cloud console or run the following command on your local machine:

gcloud compute backend-services get-health BACKEND_SERVICE_NAME

Send traffic to your backends

Now that you've configured your load balancing service, you can start sending traffic to the forwarding rule and watch the traffic be dispersed to different instances.

Send traffic to your backends as follows:

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the Load balancing page.

    Go to Load balancing

  2. Select the Frontends tab.

  3. To see your default homepage, click the IP addresses in the Address column.

Restrict access to your backends

After you have verified that everything is working as intended, modify your firewall rules so that HTTP or HTTPS traffic can only come from your load balancing service:

  1. In the Google Cloud console, go to the Firewall page.

    Go to Firewall

  2. Click on the firewall rule that permits external access to port 80.

  3. Click Edit to edit the firewall rule.

  4. In the Source IPv4 ranges field, enter 130.211.0.0/22. This restricts the firewall rule's allowed source IPs to the range 130.211.0.0/22, which is the HTTPS load balancing health check IP range.

  5. Click Save.

  6. In the Google Cloud console, go to the VM instances page.

    Go to VM instances

  7. Click the external IP address of each instance to verify that the instance is now inaccessible.

Simulate an outage

To see how a load is balanced among the responsive instances, you can simulate an outage for one or more instances in a region.

To stop an instance from receiving additional requests:

  1. Establish an RDP connection to the instance.
  2. On the instance, open PowerShell as an administrator.
  3. Run the following command to create a new firewall rule on the instance. This command blocks the health check traffic from the health checker and prevents all new HTTP connections from the load balancer to the instance:

    netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="Outage Test" protocol=tcp dir=in localport=80 action=block remoteip=130.211.0.0/22
    
  4. On your local machine, run the following command to verify that the instance now reports an UNHEALTHY status:

    gcloud compute backend-services get-health BACKEND_SERVICE_NAME
    
  5. After the instance starts reporting an UNHEALTHY status, send a request to your load balancer. Only the responsive instances should respond.

  6. After you've finished simulating an outage, you can restore your instance's connectivity by deleting the firewall rule. After opening PowerShell as an administrator on the unresponsive instance, run the following command to delete the rule:

    netsh advfirewall firewall delete rule name="Outage Test"
    

Clean up

After you finish the tutorial, you can clean up the resources that you created so that they stop using quota and incurring charges. The following sections describe how to delete or turn off these resources.

Delete the project

The easiest way to eliminate billing is to delete the project that you created for the tutorial.

    Delete a Cloud project:

    gcloud projects delete PROJECT_ID

Delete individual resources

You'll need to individually delete all the resources created for the project (images, instance templates, instance groups, health checks, backend services, URL map, http proxy, addresses, forwarding rules). You can't delete the VM instances until you run the following commands.

Run the following commands on your local machine to delete the resources created for the tutorial:

  1. Delete the HTTP/S forwarding rules:
    gcloud compute forwarding-rules delete https-fwd-rule --global
    
    gcloud compute forwarding-rules delete http-fwd-rule --global
    
  2. Delete the global static IP address:
    gcloud compute addresses delete lb-ip --global
    
  3. Delete the HTTP/S proxies:
    gcloud compute target-https-proxies delete https-lb-proxy
    
    gcloud compute target-http-proxies delete http-lb-proxy
    
  4. Delete the SSL certificate:
    gcloud compute ssl-certificates delete SSL_CERT
    
  5. Delete the URL map:
    gcloud compute url-maps delete lb-map
    
  6. Delete the backend service:
    gcloud compute backend-services delete BACKEND_SERVICE_NAME --global
    
  7. Delete the HTTP health check:
    gcloud compute http-health-checks delete basic-check
    
  8. Delete the managed instance groups:
    gcloud compute instance-groups managed delete MANAGED_INSTANCE_GROUP_NAME_1 --zone=ZONE_1
    
    gcloud compute instance-groups managed delete MANAGED_INSTANCE_GROUP_NAME_2 --zone=ZONE_2
    
  9. Delete the instance template:
    gcloud compute instance-templates delete win-be-tmpl
    
  10. Delete the image:
    gcloud compute images delete IMAGE_NAME
  11. Delete the disk:
    gcloud compute disks delete DISK_NAME

What's next