Another area this study does not look at is traffic. High-traffic
powerhouses like FedEx, UPS, Yahoo, Netscape, and AOL have a lot at stake when
they pick a Web server and operating system. Yahoo! needs to be able to respond
to a user’s search request as fast as possible, while also responding to
hundreds of thousands of other requests at the same time. Their needs and wants
for a Web server is much different than some company that doesn’t get all that
much traffic. Even a Fortune 500 company may not get a lot of traffic on their
“brochure” site. For example, Berkshire Hathaway’s website probably
gets a fraction of the traffic that some of the Web sites of companies they own
get, such as Geico Insurance or Dexter Shoes.
I may not have forced crow down the gullets of the ENT researchers, but
hopefully I’ve provided a rounder look at the facts surrounding this study.
Apache is, bar none, the King of the Web server according to numerous studies,
with both IIS and iPlanet staring ahead with drool.
My Humble Opinions
My Web server of choice for most purposes still is the Apache Web server,
and that opinion will only be strengthened as the thread-aware Apache 2.0
matures into a production-grade product in the not too distant future.
The incredibly scalable iPlanet product (Netscape-Enterprise) is my most
highly recommended Web server for high-traffic sites, or for sites that have
heavy loads to process and need to run on an 8-, 16-, 36- or even 64-processor
Although I’m not too fond of IIS, it is incredibly ease to administer and
retains some degree of my respect (and thusly recommendations) in environments
that need this ease, or have specific applications they need or want to run,
that require COM or other Windows-centric models or tools. IIS works well in
high-traffic areas in a load-balance pool, such as Microsoft’s, but still
flails helplessly on enterprise-level servers.
This microcosmic study was quite time-consuming and required quite a bit of
horsepower. I would love to see someone “fix” some of the flaws I
mentioned above–poll the domains of Fortune 500 companies, find their Web
servers, catalog all of them, and make some more pretty graphs for us to look
at. I would be more than happy to share all of my data in pretty much any
format (Quattro, Excel, StarOffice, tab-delimited text, etc) to anyone who is
interested in either replicating this study or going further with it.