A cluster based Web server is a Web system architecture that consists of multiple
server nodes distributed on a local area, and is interconnected through a high speed
network (SAN). Web servers present clients a single system view through a front end
webswitch, which distributes the requests among the nodes. Figure 2.1 depicts a typical
architecture of a cluster based Web server.
The requests from the clients go through the webswitch to initiate connections
between the clients and the Web server. When requests arrive at the webswitch, it
distributes the requests to one of the servers using either a content aware (Layer 7) or
a content oblivious (Layer 4) distribution. The content aware webswitch establishes a
TCP connection with a client and knows the contents of the HTTP request. Based on
the information of the HTTP content, it can apply sophisticated dispatching policies for
better throughput and load balance. The main advantage of the content aware distribu 
tion is the ability to exploit the cache locality by assigning a request to the node that has
the requested file in its cache. However, the webswitch may be a bottleneck in designing
a scalable server. In contrast, a content oblivious webswitch distributes requests without
examining the contents of the HTTP requests. Therefore, it is more efficient, however,
it may incur high cache miss rate due to lack of information about individual node cache
contents. This also may incur high intra cluster communication overhead since a request
may be forwarded to other nodes [22]. The requests can be serviced to the clients either
directly from a server node or through the webswitch.



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