I did a similar thing for a previous employer. I wrote the original (and only to my knowledge) reverse failover/balance patch for Squid 2.3, we used that as the reverse engine and carefully constructed our Expires headers for various content. That made an enormous difference to our capabilities, not only did we have a load distribution algorithm which used each system according to its capabilities without any manual ratio setting, but we had utterly transparent failover, in-memory caching of everything using Squids algorithms which are very effective, it was language/web server agnostic (we were using PHP, perl and C in various areas) and a nice centralised place to pick up the logs to boot.
It was a good day when I just shut down one of the web servers without warning and not a single user connection was lost.
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