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The loading of static files for HTTP is significantly different from accessing the same data via databases. The biggest difference is the need for a CLI (call level interface) connection object in db access. And those things are resource hungry operations (authentication, prototocol management etc). Most times you have to pool connection objects which in itself is a resource cost.

The DB is truly the scalability bottleneck.

The overhead you're talking about doesn't seem to be in the database itself, but in crappy (possibly language- or framework-specific) interfaces to them. That's an application issue, and I was talking about system issues.

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