Web Servers of the Fortune 500: A Dissection and Analysis Page 3

Apache also has the capability of reporting what major modules are being used in the server string, and although a lot of sites chose not to disclose this information, some did. Mod_php was the most popular reported module at 19, followed by mod_perl with 11, and a tie between mod_ssl and Stronghold (yes, I know Stonghold isn't a module) at eight. Covalent's Raven SSL module was reported on one server. Other modules and Apache projects used included ApacheJserv, Tomcat, mod_frontpage, mod_fastcgi, mod_oas, and other proprietary modules used by CBS, Oracle, and others.

Apache had 8 percent of the Fortune 25, 12 percent of Fortune 100, 10 percent of the Fortune 200, 12 percent of the Fortune 300, 14 percent of the Fortune 400, and finally 15 percent of the Fortune 500.



Based on the trends shown in the accompanying figure, it looks like Microsoft's IIS cuts in on the iPlanet Web server, while Apache and everyone else are acting as minor detractors in the heavyweight slugfest. Before you criticize this graph for not properly presenting the data, let me just make it clear that the jump from "Top 25" to "Top 100" is only representing the change in 75 servers, as opposed to the 100 servers that all of the other points represent, and is only shown for comparison purposes.


There are many flaws in both my study and the ENT study. Neither of our studies looked at a more global picture and are both very narrow in scope. Here are just a few of the major holes to keep in mind when reading this data.


The most glaring hole in our research is one of numbers: Polling all of the www.companyname.com sites is only a small fraction of all of the Web servers being used by an organization. For example, although www.apple.com has MacOSX running Apache in their pool, www.mac.com, itools.mac.com, and others (also owned by Apple) are running Netscape-Enterprise on BSD/OS almost exclusively. Compaq's brochure site at www.compaq.com may be running Windows and IIS4, but they've got a whole slew of Tru64 servers running Netscape-Enterprise.

Marketing Engine vs. Real Workhorse

Another hole in this research is one of politics. I don't know how many times I've had a client call me and say, "Jim in Marketing says we need a Web site, how much will that cost?" I always roll my eyes at these calls because I know what "Jim" is going to want for a Web server is Windows and IIS. Why? Because he has Windows on his desk, so there is virtually no learning curve. A lot of so-called "brochure sites" are commissioned, if not run, buy marketing personnel who don't necessarilly make choices based on performance or scalability, but rather on convenience. Don't get me wrong, I know plenty of technology-savvy marketing people; my only point is that the decision of OS and Server software for Web sites can sometimes be made by less-than- knowledgeable people.


Another point to look at is purpose. As I mentioned in my last "flaw," not every company is looking for a real workhorse when they get a Web server. Some companies just want to set up a Web presence and let the marketing people have fun and perhaps draw a few more customers and make a few more dollars--they aren't big e-commerce giants or depend on their Web site to make them money in any way other than marketing. These companies will look for ease-of-administration above performance, and even above cost most of the time.


This article was originally published on Jul 21, 2000
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