Port80 Web Server Survey Puts New Spin on IIS Penetration

Month after month both the Netcraft and Security Space Web server surveys place Apache far ahead of the other runners in the Web server race.

A Web server survey conducted by Port80 Software reveals IIS -- not Apache -- is the Web server powering the majority of Fortune 1000 Web sites.

The recently released January 2003 Netcraft stats, for example, show Apache carrying a 62.23 percent market share, while IIS has a 27.49 percent share.

To measure server penetration, Netcraft notes on its survey methodology page, "we collect and collate as many hostnames providing an http service as we can find, and systematically poll each one with an HTTP request for the server name."

As a result, "hosting vendors using Apache to serve numerous small sites bump up Netcraft's numbers in Apache's favor," Chris Neppes, director of Sales and Marketing for Port80 Software said.

"Netcraft's survey reflects a relatively high ratio of domains to Apache servers. If you look at dedicated hosting or corporate environments however, Apache's market share is likely much smaller," Neppes continued.

However, Security Space, which invokes far more stringent guidelines than Netcraft, and as a result receives far fewer responses to its monthly survey, published December 2002 survey results that show similar percentages: Apache captured a 62.64 percent share and IIS 23.50 percent.

When counting servers, Security Space not only visits each site that it counts, but goes only to sites that are linked from at least one other site that it already considers well-known.

As a result, the consulting firm estimates that only 10 percent of all Web sites are counted. The other 90 percent are assumed to be "fringe" sites primarily owned by domain squatters or in use as personal Web sites.

While these results may present a more accurate portrayal of Web server usage, they are still not an indicator of Web server penetration from an enterprise or business use standpoint.

So when it comes to server penetration in the enterprise, who are the heavyweights?

A recent survey of Fortune 1000 companies undertaken by Port80 Software revealed that Apache is far from No. 1 in the enterprise community.

According to Neppes, "Port80's survey results indicate that Microsoft IIS is the Web server of choice for the world's largest companies. We have found that Fortune 1000s have the resources and in-house expertise to tailor IIS to fit their needs."

(Port80, it should be noted, is not a wholly impartial player when it comes to Web server penetration measurement. The software vendor develops products for IIS-based Web servers and sites that include URLSpellCheck, ServerMask, and httpZip.)

Using a tool similar to the one available on the Netcraft Web site, Port80 found that 54.1 percent of Fortune 1000 Web sites are powering up using IIS. Netscape Enterprise trails as the next server of choice with a 21 percent market share. Apache is third with 17.6 percent of companies choosing it to deploy their sites. The remaining 7.3 percent of sites are powered by other Web servers.

The survey, conducted on January 20, 2003, queried 1,000 leading global corporations' main corporate Web sites (e.g., www.corporation.com) via a standard HTTP GET request. The HTTP headers returned with the response were persisted. The value of the server header from each response was then compared against well-known default values for popular commercial and open source HTTP servers to determine the identity of the server hosting the company's main Web domain.

This method of categorization does not attempt to account for the possibility that the server header, in particular cases, might have been altered to misrepresent the identity of the HTTP server.

Port80 has made its real-time tool available for general use at http://www.port80software.com/servermask/top1000webservers.

While the categorizing of these results offers a new point of view, the results themselves are hardly new or revolutionary. Netcraft has offered a similar feature called What's that site running? for several years.

When we queried several sites on Port80's list using the Netcraft tool, we received near-identical results to those from Port80's tool. Results from the small random sample were also roughly in line, percentage-wise, Port80's results.

Server According
to Netcraft
Server According
to Port80
Clear Channel Comm. www.clearchannel.com Apache/1.3.22 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) mod_python/2.7.8 Python/1.5.2 mod_ssl/2.8.5 OpenSSL/0.9.6b DAV/1.0.2 PHP/4.2.3 mod_perl/1.26 mod_throttle/3.1.2 on Linux. Apache/1.3.22 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) mod_python/2.7.8 Python/1.5.2 mod_ssl/2.8.5 OpenSSL/0.9.6b DAV/1.0.2 PHP/4.2.3 mod_perl/1.26 mod_throttle/3.1.2
Intel www.intel.com Microsoft-IIS/6.0 on Windows Server 2003 Microsoft-IIS/5.0
J.P. Morgan Chase www.jpmorgan.com Netscape-Enterprise/3.6 SP3 on Solaris Netscape-Enterprise/3.6 SP3
Kimberly-Clark www.kimberly-clark.com Microsoft-IIS/5.0 on Windows 2000 Microsoft-IIS/5.0
Pfizer www.pfizer.com Netscape-Enterprise/6.0 on Solaris 8 Netscape-Enterprise/6.0
Wal-Mart www.walmart.com Microsoft-IIS/1.3.26 on Solaris 8 Microsoft-IIS/1.3.26.

Port80 believes the results of its survey will help counter the perception (bolstered by Netcraft's monthly results) that IIS' market share has been slipping due to security and scalability issues.

This article was originally published on Jan 22, 2003
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