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USENIX Symposium on Internet Technologies and Systems, 1997

Measuring the Capacity of a Web Server

Gaurav Banga and Peter Druschel
Rice University


The widespread use of the World Wide Web and related applications places interesting performance demands on network servers. The ability to measure the effect of these demands is important for tuning and optimizing the various software components that make up a Web server. To measure these effects, it is necessary to generate realistic HTTP client requests. Unfortunately, accurate generation of such traffic in a testbed of limited scope is not trivial. In particular, the commonly used approach is unable to generate client request-rates that exceed the capacity of the server being tested even for short periods of time. This paper examines pitfalls that one encounters when measuring Web server capacity using a synthetic workload. We propose and evaluate a new method for Web traffic generation that can generate bursty traffic, with peak loads that exceed the capacity of the server. Finally, we use the proposed method to measure the performance of a Web server.
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