ServersZeus Web Server: Mid-range/High-end Web server for Unix platforms

Zeus Web Server: Mid-range/High-end Web server for Unix platforms

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When it comes to Web servers, Zeus may be the best kept secret on the Internet. While the server lags considerably behind offerings from Apache, Netscape, and Microsoft in terms of popularity, Zeus is definitely able to hold its own in every other area. The original Zeus Web Server (v1.0) was designed for raw speed while using only a minimum of resources. The latest release (v3.x) builds a solid core of advanced features and enhanced functionality around the same tried and true warrior that first emerged on the scene. Among its many fine selling points, the current release of Zeus is most notable for its blazing performance, reliability, ease of use, virtual server support, and one of the most extensive feature-sets available in a Web server.

Zeus features include multi-threading capabilities, support for the HTTP 1.1 protocol, an integrated search engine module, support for the FastCGI interface (an open extension to CGI that provides a high performance platform for Web applications), multilingual capabilities (with English, German, Spanish, Italian, and French languages currently offered), Sandbox CGI support (applies restrictions to CGI programs on a virtual server basis to help protect the Web server from errant CGI programs), comprehensive access control, support for Java servlets, dynamic configuration files (compatible with both Apache and NCSA which also helps to make the transition from either of these two servers as painless as possible), clustering support with Intelligent Client Request Transfer (ICRT) capabilities, Internet Server Application Programmers Interface (ISAPI) support, and support for an unlimited number of virtual servers.
When it comes to Web servers, Zeus may be the best kept secret on the Internet. While the server lags considerably behind offerings from Apache, Netscape, and Microsoft in terms of popularity, Zeus is definitely able to hold its own in every other area.

Virtual servers allow many different Web sites to run off of the same server software. In addition to supporting an unlimited number of virtual servers (possible limitations come only from your hardware or operating system), Zeus offers the most extensive range of virtual server capabilities around. Each virtual server is its own entity when run under Zeus and can be started or stopped individually. This eases server management tasks by allowing administrators to make configuration tasks to a single virtual server without needing to restart any of the other servers. Zeus also offers real-time virtual server statistics which are delivered through dynamically generated graphical stats that report on the operation of each virtual server (as well as on the performance of all running virtual servers). Another virtual server feature is bandwidth throttling which allows limits to be placed on the transfer rates for each virtual server, thereby ensuring that no single virtual server overpowers another server or the entire system.

Getting up and running with Zeus is extremely easy. The attractive and intuitive Web-based Web Server Controller makes configuration and administration tasks as simple as possible. A documentation guide in HTML format can also be consulted for additional assistance if you need it. The guide will take you step-by-step through each process of configuring the server itself or administering a virtual server. Zeus offers full support for Web publishing applications from Microsoft and Netscape, making the process of publishing pages to a Zeus site quick and painless. All Microsoft FrontPage functions are supported (including the program’s unique WebBots) on Microsoft-supported Unix platforms. Publishing with either Netscape Gold or the newer Netscape Composer is also fully supported by Zeus via the HTTP/1.1 PUT method.

Enhanced security is another area where Zeus excels. Zeus is the only commercial Web server solution to offer 128-bit encryption technology on a worldwide basis. Its Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) v3 support makes Zeus the perfect solution for Web sites in need of the highest level of security encryption. Unlike its counterparts from the United States, the U.K. based Zeus isn’t subject to U.S. export regulations and can therefore offers its 128-bit encryption to the U.S., Canada, and every other area of the world. Zeus also offers client-side x.509 certificate authentication and comprehensive access control for added security protection. Finally, Zeus supports NCipher cryptographic accelerators for enhanced e-commerce capabilities.

If you’re looking for a fast server that can host thousands of Web sites on a single machine, Zeus is likely to be your best best. Zeus continues to dominate SPECWeb96, an independent Web server benchmark test conducted by the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation. Zeus has been shown to be more than 36% faster than Netscape Enterprise and Apache by the SPEC consortium (when the servers are compared on the same hardware and platforms). For ISP Web site hosting, enterprise-level Web sites, and secure e-commerce applications where speed and reliability are of critical importance, Zeus is the answer. The only real downside is Zeus’ $1699 price tag, which effectively takes the server out of entry-level and most mid-range applications. One exception to this is the Academic Partner program which allows academic institutions and registered charities to purchase a full license for only $85 (this price even includes free 30-day technical support).

Pros: Blazing performance and overall robustness, Rock-solid reliability, Attractive and intuitive interface, Enhanced 128-bit SSL v3 encryption technology, HTTP 1.1 protocol support, Excellent virtual server support, Academic Partner program allows academic institutions and registered charities to purchase Zeus for only $85

Cons: No Windows/Macintosh versions available, Price tag limits the server to mostly high-end use (outside of the Academic Partner program), More extensive technical support after first 30 days requires the purchase of an extended support contract for $850 per year

New: FastCGI interface support, Improved virtual server support, HTTP/1.1 support, Sandbox CGIs; Features List

New in v3.3.1: Full Microsoft FrontPage support; 128-bit SSLv3 encryption support worldwide; Apache compatibility; Web-centric delegable management interface; Release Notes

Upgrade Meter:

New in v3.3.2: NSAPI support; activity monitor; added webctl script; core engine has been sped up by 30%; added new htaccess directive; subserver module now has a “custom subserver map function” mode; removed legacy internal Zeus servlet runner; now fully support both Apache JServ and LiveSoftware’s JRun; no longer cache metadata of ‘hot’ objects; search index program can now read virtual server configuration files from stdin; SSL keep-alive is now disabled by default; misc. bug fixes;
Release Notes

Upgrade Meter:

New in v3.3.4: Compaq Tru64 Unix version now built on 4.0F with native compilers optimized for ev6 hosts; separate HP-UX 10.20 and 11.00 builds; scaleable “traffic light” page in the adminserver; improved SSL client certificate handling; misc. performance optimizations;
Release Notes

Upgrade Meter:

New in v3.3.5: Linux package renaming with Linux packages now called “Linux-glibc2.0” or “Linux-glibc2.1” instead of “Linux” and “Linux-RedHat5”; Linux/Alpha support added;

Release Notes

Upgrade Meter:

New in v3.3.6: Added MacOSX and AIX support; FreeBSD packages built on newer operating system; Linux/Alpha package now built on RedHat 6.2 instead of SuSE; JServ/1.1 support for AJPv12 protocol; native PHP4 support; Enhanced FrontPage installation support;

Release Notes

Upgrade Meter:

Version Reviewed: 3.3.1 Issue 2

Date of Review: 5/20/99

Last Updated: 6/4/01

Reviewed by: Forrest Stroud

Tech Support Changes: Since our initial publication of this review, Zeus has beefed up its technical support offerings enough to warrant us upgrading its tech support rating from four stars to four-and-a-half stars.
Zeus now offers an wide variety of support options for free including an open discussion forum, a list serv, online documentation and White Papers, and
an online FAQ.

Zeus also offers three support packages to enable customers to contact its tech support team. The Evaluator Support package provides potential and new customers
with unlimited e-mail access to the Zeus Technical Support team for 30 days from the date they obtain an Evaluation license. The Basic Support package includes e-mail support, phone support for critical queries with a three-hour response range, and access to all minor product upgrades. Basic Support is priced at $840 per license for less than 15 licenses and $660 per license for 15 or more licenses. The Enterprise Support plan provides high-availability support for customers with business-critical projects. It includes prioritized support services (such as faster response times, priority maintenance, and priority escalation handling), 24-hour telephone hotline coverage, account management services, regular review meetings, and new software version releases. The Enterprise Support package is priced on a customer-specific basis.

A complete list of Zeus’ tech support offerings can be found at

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