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Essentially, the web server would relatively quickly pull 100 KB of content, and then it would be busy for 10 seconds slowly sending this content to the client before freeing its connection.

Now imagine that you have 1,000 simultaneously connected clients who have requested similar content.

Consequently, to handle the increased workloads associated with growing audiences and hence higher levels of concurrency—and to be able to continuously do so—a website should be based on a number of very efficient building blocks.

While the other parts of the equation such as hardware (CPU, memory, disks), network capacity, application and data storage architectures are obviously important, it is in the web server software that client connections are accepted and processed.

Thus, the web server should be able to scale nonlinearly with the growing number of simultaneous connections and requests per second.