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Multi-tiered/Multi-homed web sites

There was some investigation into multi-tiered/multi-homed web sites (some of which is incorporated into the engine).  Multi-tiered/multi-homed web sites are those that use redundancy, in this case, redundancy of information to achieve better performance and/or better reliability.  A multi-tiered web site splits different tasks (for example displaying the static site and displaying the dynamic site) off to different web servers, which may be on the same machine, or on other machines.  This allows the most requested content to be redundantly available, while keeping the advantages of both the static and dynamic sites.  Splitting tasks in this manner allows a better load-balancing scheme, which means faster response to user queries, and higher reliability, because if one component fails, it is much less lightly to cause the rest to fail.

A multi-homed server takes this to another level.  With a multi-homed server, not only is each task split off to a new web server, but also each web server is in a separate location, possibly with different bandwidth connections.  This may not make much sense if the server tasks are mutually dependent - if, for example one is serving the text of a page, and the other the images.  If, on the other hand, the servers are performing independent tasks - say one server is set up to allow documents to be read, and the other is set up to allow those documents to be edited - then if one of the servers (or connections to the server), is disrupted, the functions provided by the other server are still available.

A multi-tiered/multi-homed web site would probably be more complex than would be required for some web sites, but for anyone who depends on the reliability of their web site (or web site connection), this could be vital.

After investigating the possibility of doing research along the lines of multi-homed/multi-tiered web sites, it was decided to concentrate instead on co-operative authoring, content management and collaboration, but use some of the knowledge gained from multi-homed/multi-tiered web sites in the co-operative authoring and collaboration research.

Recently a company called Akamai Technologies Inc ( started to deliver a product that is similar to the system described above, using a massive distributed network of web servers.  Akamai's aim is to "deliver a better Internet", by linking you to the nearest copy of the web site, thereby providing faster and more reliable results.

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