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If you are looking for an excellent overview of general architecture principles then take a look at Will Larson's Introduction to Architecting Systems for Scale. Based on his experiences at Yahoo! and Digg, Will covers key concepts in some depth. A quick gloss on the building blocks:

  1. Load Balancing: Scalability & Redundancy. Horizontal scalability and redundancy are usually achieved via load balancing, the spreading of requests across multiple resources.
    • Smart Clients. The client has a list of hosts and load balances across that list of hosts. Upside is simple for programmers. Downside is it's hard to update and change.
    • Hardware Load Balancers. Targeted at larger companies, this is dedicated load balancing hardware. Upside is performance. Downside is cost and complexity.
  2. ...


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