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Power-performance optimization is a relatively new problem area particularly in the context of server clusters. Power-aware request distribution is a method of scheduling service requests among servers in a cluster so that energy consumption is minimized, while maintaining a particular level of performance. Energy efficiency is obtained by powering-down some servers when the desired quality of service can be met with fewer servers. We have found that it is critical to take into account the system and workload factors during both the design and the evaluation of such request distribution schemes. We identify the key system and workload factors that impact such policies and their effectiveness in saving energy. We measure a web cluster running an industry-standard commercial web workload to demonstrate that understanding this system-workload context is critical to performing valid evaluations and even for improving the energy-saving schemes.