Servertec Internet Server -- A Web/Application server designed for a Java environment

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Jun 25, 2002


Is iServer a Web server or an application server? At the moment, it's a Web server with some application-server capabilities, but if Servertec follows through with its ambitious object-oriented development plans, in the future iServer will be added to our application-server listings as well.

iServer, written entirely in Java for any Java-enabled (i.e. supporting the Java Runtime Environment from SunSoft) operating system, has the dual purpose of serving both Web pages and Java servlets. On the Web-server side, iServer is a simple multithreaded Web engine with some rather nifty features, such as implementing session-manager threads for a multiserver environment and maintaining session states. The server supports HTTP 1.1 and doesn't eat up a lot of resources: a basic iServer installation takes up 85K and the full package occupies around 125K. However, the Web server could be described charitably as bare-boned: there's no explicit Perl support (although one could implement Perl through CGI) and there's no support for the Microsoft FrontPage Extensions. Is iServer a Web server or an application server? At the moment, it's a Web server with some application-server capabilities, but if Servertec follows through with its ambitious object-oriented development plans, in the future iServer will be added to our application-server listings as well.

Since it can manage Java servlets, the Servertec folks are making some grandiose claims for iServer, saying that it supports the more advanced protocols like IIOP and CORBA as well as more pedestrian protocols like ODBC, JDBC, SSI and CGI. But iServer doesn't appear to support IIOP and CORBA right out of the box -- instead, you'll need to create or purchase your own Java servlets or iScript applications to enable that support. (iServer does include servlets to enable JDBC and ODBC support.) iScript is a rather unique marriage of BASIC and Java, allowing you to create BASIC-like scripts for a Java environment. The trend in the Web-server world seems to be giving away a Web server and then tying users into a non-standard programming language. While there are some definite appeals to iScript, there aren't many compelling reasons to use it instead of Perl or Tcl.

iServer administration is done through Web-based administration. Every aspect of iServer can be administered in this fashion, while detailed log files help you track usage levels and problems with your site.

As an application server, iServer has some attractive features, including load balancing (which allows incoming requests to a cluster to be managed in the most efficient manner, which might include redirection to a less busy server), fault tolerance, and database-connection pooling. These features, which are usually found in enterprise-level application servers but not usually in Web servers, allow for a scaleable Web-server installation -- since iServer can run on an server with Java, you can install it on the smallest Windows NT machine or the largest IBM AS/400 computer.

However, there are some failings in iServer that will cause you to pause before implementing it on the enterprise level, scalability aside. Security is subpar when compared to other enterprise-level Web server or application servers. There's no provisioning for RADIUS authentication or any other third-party authentication. You must set up users, realms, access rights, resources, and access control lists by hand -- you cannot import any user lists (say, the Windows NT user database) from the outside.

iServer is definitely a work in progress, and it will be interesting to watch this product as it expands into the application-server space. If you're willing to evolve your own system as iServer evolves, then it makes for an attractive tool. But if your needs are of a more immediate nature, you'll want to look at a more mature application server or Web server.

Pros: 7 Browser-based administration, 7 Very scaleable, 7 Great Java support, 7 Good online documentation, 7 Small footprint

Cons: 7 No explicit Perl support, 7 No NSAPI or ISAPI support, 7 No Microsoft FrontPage Extensions support, 7 Security tools are lacking

New: This is the initial review for iServer; List of Features

New in v1.5: 7 User and groups information is stored in a JDBC-accessible database, 7 support for a wide variety of open standards, including Java, Java Servlets, CGI, SSI, RMI, IIOP, CORBA, JDBC, and XML, 7 support for the Java Servlet standard 2.0 and 2.1, 7 support for JSDK 2.1, 7 invoker servlet, 7 expanded API , 7 bug fixes. ; Press Release

New in v1.6.0: Added dns_lookup to administrator, added cgi-bin directory to distribution , expanded API, added support for managing database and file realms, added Apache/CGI/NSAPI/ISAPI iServer gateways, expanded security to protect resources using multiple selected access control lists added support for monitoring and managing workgroup servers from administrator, added add/edit/remove workgroup servers to administrator, misc. bug fixes; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 5

New in v1.7.1: Improvements made to the documentation; various bug fixes made to: query strings that caused the request handler to hang up, query strings not parsing into parameters when the request method is POST, SSIncludeServlet that threw exceptions when an included file contained embedded SSI directives, and client requests prematurely terminated or throwing exceptions/errors that were improperly being logged as "200 OK"; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 3

New in v1.7.2: ConnectionPool can now maintain more than the minimum number of connection being maintained by pool; iServer ISAPI Gateway iserver.ini configuration files created for releases prior to iServer 1.7.2 Version 02/01/2000 will not work with the iServer ISAPI Gateway included in iServer 1.7.2; procedure to run iServer as a Linux/Unix init daemon at startup has been changed; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 2

New in v1.8: Support for Java Servlet API version 2.2; API changes; various bug fixes; updates to documentation; does not support Web Applications (WAR) as defined in the Java Servlet API version 2.2; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 2

New in v1.9.1: added support for JSSE 1.0.2 with strong domestic and export encryption; changed product name from iServer to Servertec Internet Server; added MessageServlet; updated documentation; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 1

New in v1.10.0 : Added support for Windows ME and Windows 2000, RedHat Linux 7, Apache Server 1.3.14, and Novell NetWare 5.1; supports session persistence and caching; added stec.iws.SessionStore abstract class; stec.iws.DatabaseSessionStore now supports persistent and caching context sessions using any JDBC accessible database; added support for custom monitor event handlers; can specify socket handlers; removed server.exe; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 3

New in v1.10.1: Added support for RedHat Linux 7.1, Apache Server 1.3.19, and AOLserver 3.3.1; added check_ip_address to sessions.ini; added Check IP Address to sessions.html; added support for check IP address; changed minimum number of connections from 5 to 0; clean-up server initialization code; removed entries from deployed users.ini, groups.ini, and resources.ini; fixed bug that resulted in destroy() method not being called for loaded Servlets when the server is shut down and preload_servlets in iws.ini are empty or not defined; fixed bug that resulted in iwsCommand, iwsSSLCommand, stop_iws, and restart_iws displaying null when the server did not return a status when it was being stopped or restarted; updated Administrator and documentation; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 3

New in v1.10.2: Added work-around for Microsoft Internet Explorer bug that results in stec.iws.MultiPartForm throwing a java.lang.StringIndexOutOfBoundsException when SSL is enabled and the POST data is prematurely terminated; added debug to iws.ini for specifying whether to capture all incoming requests and outgoing responses; added Debug to Administrator Server when specifying whether to capture all incoming requests and outgoing responses; changed ETAG response header sent by stec.iws.FileServlet to be Microsoft Internet Explorer compatible; merged WIN32 and Linux configuration files; fixed a bug that resulted in the server sending an extra response header when PrintWriter is used after the response is sent when the PrintWriter is closed; fixed bug that resulted in the administrator allowing the client to manage the server without a valid login; fixed bug that resulted in the Administrator allowing file uploads from a remote client when remote administration was disabled; updated documentation; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 2

New in v1.10.3: Added stec.iws.PosLogger, stec.iws.PosMonitorEventHandler, stec.iws.PosRealm, stec.iws.PosRealmAdministrator, stec.iws.PosSessionStore, and POS Employees example; documented stec.iws.PosLogger, stec.iws.PosMonitorEventHandler, stec.iws.PosRealm, stec.iws.PosRealmAdministrator, and stec.iws.PosSessionStore; can capture request/response streams; added debug server configuration parameter to iws.ini and debug configuration parameter to server administrator page; added pages on programming resources, security, and performance to documentation; expanded size of line buffer used by j1server and j2service when processing iserver.ini files from 256 bytes to 8192 bytes; exported AOLserver NS-ModuleVersion global variable; tested server with JavaSoft Java 2 1.3.1, Jakarta Tomcat Jasper 3.2.3, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 SP2, Netscape Web Browser 4.7.8, Netscape Web Browser 6.1, Novell NetWare 5.1 Service Pack 3, Novell NetWare Java 1.2.2, and Novell NetWare Java 1.3.0; tested Apache Gateway with Apache Server 1.3.20 and AOLserver Gateway with AOLserver 3.4; various bug fixes; updated knowledge base; updated deployment documentation, optional classes documentation, and directory tree documentation; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 2

Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Date of Review: 2/4/98
Date Updated: 9/4/01
Reviewed by: Kevin Reichard
Find additional information about iServer on
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Technical Support Information: Registered commercial users have 30 days of direct technical support via telephone or e-mail. All users have access to the iServer Knowledge Base (a collection of problem/resolution notes) and product updates.

Operating Systems Supported: Any OS supporting Java

System Requirements: 7 1MB for classes and executables, 7 2.5 MB for classes, executables, examples and documentation, 7 Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 1.1.x or later, 7 or Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.1.x or later

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