Load balancing can be done with an hardware load balancer or with software. Software solutions tend to be a fair bit cheaper. Applications would typically connect to a database cluster by opening connections on one of the nodes in order to run transactions. If the database node fails, the client would need to reconnect to another database node before it can continue to serve requests.

Load Balancing is often implemented as an extra layer:

The application connects to the load balancer via the network and the load balancer connects to the database via the network. The load balancing can be implemented on the application machines to get rid of the extra layer, this is better for latency (each layer adds latency) and as each application server has it’s own load balancer it can also remove bottlenecks. The drawback are that you’ll lose a single point of control and with multiple load balancers the number of health check queries will probably increase. The two-layer setup is often used with Connector/J and haproxy.

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