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Overview

In the early days of the World Wide Web, most users were not terribly concerned with performance or reliability. Sometimes Web sites were slow, and sometimes they did not respond, but this was to be expected. Besides, many users had slow connections to the network, so they hardly noticed if the server was slow. A popular server might have been overloaded for a while, but then it would recover.

Clearly, the expectations have changed, especially for business Web sites. Sites must be available 24 hours a day, because customers, whether they're on the other side of the world or simply up late, may be there at any time. The systems must be fast enough to satisfy increasingly demanding users, because competitive sites are “just a click away.” Customers now have their own high-bandwidth connections, from high-speed corporate networks (if they're in the office) or from their own broadband connections (if they're at home). Moreover, sites must be able to handle high peak loads, because one never knows when a mass of customers may decide that they want whatever is on the site.


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