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Web Servers of the Fortune 500: A Dissection and Analysis

By Matthew Keller (Send Email)
Posted Jul 21, 2000


I was minding my own business, checking my snail mail at the office, when all of a sudden I was assaulted: "IIS Most Used Web Server Among Fortune 500 Sites" slapped me upside the head like a two-liter shot of Mountain Dew. For those of you who haven't read the cover story of Volume 5 Number 10 of ENT or seen the article on their website--go do that first, and then come back.

A recent study of Web servers in the Fortune 500 caused a stir in the Apache community, as a Windows NT magazine attempted to argue that Fortune 500 usage of Microsoft IIS was overwhelming. Matthew Keller does some investigating and explains what the numbers really mean.

After recovering from what I though must have been wrong, biased marketing research, I set out to prove ENT wrong.

Method

I wrote a small Perl script that went to Fortune's Web site, pulled out the list of Fortune 500 companies, extracted their "brochure site" address, and then polled that address with an HTTP HEAD request. This returns the HTTP server string, along with some other information. The same script then used nmap to ascertain the operating system. After the script was finished, it compared the results I just collected with what Netcraft had listed for both server and operating system.

After looking through the results and then manually inspecting some of the sites, I noticed that Netcraft's method of ascertaining the operating system was much more accurate than nmap, most of the time, so I merged their OS data with mine.

After all of this happy automation, I decided to go one step further and actually look at the Web sites--yes, all 500 of them. You find out some interesting things when looking at all those pages. For example, when you go to K-Mart's homepage at www.kmart.com (running IIS4 on Windows), you get automatically redirected to www.bluelight.com (running Netscape-Enterprise 3.6 on Solaris). Another neat factoid is that, in my opinion, Berkshire Hathaway gets the "Least Impressive Web Site of the Fortune 500" award. All funny business aside, the results were astounding.

Results

Results of the survey

I set about this study with a mission: To objectively collect data on the "brochure sites" of the Fortune 500. My secondary objective, of course, was to disprove the ENT study. My results were almost identical to theirs, however. If you look at the entire Fortune 500, from General Motors all the way to ReliaStar Financial, IIS reigns king. If you, however, look at subsets of the Fortune 500 and the types of companies represented, the picture is much different. Netscape Enterprise Server dominates until the Fortune 300 is looked at as an aggragate, where both Netscape and Microsoft share 41 percent of the market. This information was embedded in the ENT article as well.

Analysis

So far, I haven't really told you much more than the ENT article, so let's start analyzing this information.

IIS

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