11
infrastructure such as a firewall, and should be equipped with support for databases,
transaction management, communication, legacy data, and other functionalities [79].
After receiving a client's request, an application server parses and converts it to a query.
Then, it sends the generated query to a database and gets back the response from
the database. Finally, it converts the response into an HTML based document and
sends it back to the client. The application server provides important functionalities for
on line business such as online billing, banking and inventory management. Therefore,
majority of the contents here are generated dynamically and require an adequate security
mechanism.
The backend database layer houses the most confidential and secure data. The
main communication characteristic of the database layer is frequent disk access through
the (SAN) [80].
2.3
User Level Communication
One architectural feature that has made System Area Networks (SANs) attrac 
tive for high performance computing is user level communication. User level communi 
cation approaches such as U Net [36], Fast Messages (FM) [60], Active Messages [37]
and SHRIMP [16] allow direct access to the network interface, without involving the
OS kernel. A generic communication layer, called Virtual Interface Architecture (VIA)
[30, 19], was introduced considering the importance of user level communication. Figure
2.3 depicts the VIA architecture. VIA defines a set of functions and associated semantics
for providing such communication and has been implemented in commercial platforms
[80, 57]. Virtual Interface (VI) is a logical channel provided to an application by the VIA












  

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