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Locally distributed Web server systems represent a cost-effective solution to the performance problems due to high traffic volumes reaching popular Web sites. In this paper we focus on architectures based on layer-7 Web switches because they allow a much richer set of possibilities for the Web site architecture, at the price of a scalability much lower than that provided by a layer-4 switch. In this paper we compare the performance of three solutions for layer-7 Web switch: a two-way application-layer architecture, a two-way kernel-based architecture, and a one-way kernel-based architecture. We show quantitatively how much better the one-way architecture performs with respect to a two-way scheme, even if implemented at the kernel level. We conclude that an accurate implementation of a layer-7 Web switch may become a viable solution to the performance requirements of the majority of cluster-based information systems.
Date of Conference: 16-18 April 2003