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Scalable Internet Architectures by Theo Schlossnagle

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Chapter 5. Load Balancing and the Utter Confusion Surrounding It

We discussed the differences between load balancing and high availability in Chapter 4, “High Availability. HA! No Downtime?!,” so we will pursue that topic by seeking a better understanding of load balancing.

First, let’s reflect on the term load balancing. Although it is obvious what it means—to balance a load—it is often misunderstood to mean balance the system load. System load is defined as the average length of the run queue (processes in a runnable state waiting for the system processor) over the last 1 minute, 5 minutes, and 15 minutes; typically updated on 5-second intervals.

When you type uptime on your Unix or Linux system, you should see something like what I see on ...

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