|By Jon Walker||
|August 31, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
Why haven't you already moved your Microsoft Windows IIS server infrastructure to Apache on Linux? Does the idea that something is inexpensive (free) automatically bring to mind the old adage, "You get what you pay for?" Do you fear that your IT staff will not be able to support the new platform? Will you be able to find competent developers to maintain, enhance, and develop new Web sites based on Apache on Linux? Perhaps you have specific technical concerns - all your Web pages were written in ASP (Microsoft Active Server Pages): How can you get these to run on Apache on Linux without a huge investment of time and money?
In this article I attempt to address these concerns and others that might be delaying your decision to move to Apache on Linux. I'll also cover the steps you need to take to make a successful transition once you have decided to make the move.
Why Should You Move?
Patches Anyone?Many people have heard the "free as in beer" versus "free as in speech" discussions around open source software. While cost is a strong motivator, the number one factor you should consider when contemplating migration from Microsoft IIS to Apache on Linux is the increased security and stability of your Web server. This leads to less downtime and lower maintenance and support costs. Apache has more than 65% of the Web server market and IIS has nearly 21% of the market (Netcraft.com). When it comes to security vulnerabilities, which platform have you heard the most about - IIS or Apache? Wouldn't you expect that the product with the largest market share would have the greatest exposure? I have a general mistrust of statistics, so while this seems to be compelling data, I would encourage you to find out for yourself which of the two Web servers is most secure. Do this by spending some time looking through the vulnerability reports at the major security information clearinghouses. I recommend checking out www.cert.org and www.securityfocus.com. Both have searchable databases of vulnerabilities that you can use to draw your own conclusions.
Free as in SpeechYou still have questions. How will I support Apache on Linux? What are my options for maintaining, enhancing, and developing Web sites? This is the area that I feel really weighs in favor of switching to Apache on Linux. There are several important ways that Apache on Linux brings more freedom to your IT investments. The first is probably the most obvious - Apache on Linux gives you a choice of vendors. Doesn't everyone want choice? Isn't that what our day and age is all about? Isn't it ironic then that when it comes to global operating-systems' market share, many companies see their options as Microsoft, Microsoft, and then you also have…Microsoft. At the risk of offending the 200+ Linux distributions out there, I consider at least a half dozen of them enterprise worthy. This gives you a tremendous range of choices, from commercially supported distributions such as SUSE and Red Hat, to community-supported distributions such as Debian and Gentoo. There are third-party companies offering support and training for all of the major Linux distributions. This is empowering. You have choice. You don't like the support you're getting from one vendor? Choose a different one. With large vendors like Novell and IBM offering services and support for Linux, you can have the security of a large organization backing your IT purchases, if you so desire.
What about development? The choices there are even broader. There is a large and growing community of open source technology developers and companies available. A number of technologies are widely accepted as excellent platforms for Web development. There are a plethora of resources available for LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) and other open source Web technologies. Entire communities have grown up around these technologies. Free support is available not only on the excellent community Web sites (such as www.php.net), but also in a variety of other forums, newsgroups, and mailing lists. Your choice is not limited to free support, however; there are a number of highly reputable companies offering support and training for the development technologies as well.
What if a portion of your Web site is made up of ASP code? Am I recommending that you reinvent the wheel? By no means. There are solutions available for this problem, such as Sun ONE Active Server Pages, as well as other vendors and solutions for migrating ASP and ASP .NET code. Feel free to drop me an e-mail and I can point you to other solutions that fit your specific scenario.
Free as in BeerWhy are more than 65% of the world's Web sites running on Apache servers? Is it because Apache is freely available, open source software or is it because it works really well? One of the most counterintuitive things about Apache on Linux is that free does not mean inferior. The old adage just does not hold true in this case.
How Do I Plan for a Migration?If you have decided to make the switch to Apache, the single most important thing you can do right now is plan for the move. What Linux distribution do you plan on using? Do you need to purchase new hardware or can you use your existing Windows box (for many applications Linux requires much less processing power than Windows). Do you have Windows ASP or ASP.NET code that needs to be (1) converted, (2) rewritten, or (3) run on Linux? There are many technical issues that need to be addressed when considering reconfiguring your Apache Web server. How will you migrate your passwords, virtual directories, the configuration settings, and your file system hierarchy?
Performing the MigrationI don't have the space in this article to cover an entire migration process, although I hope to do so in a future article. Figure 1 lists the steps required to perform a migration. I cover a portion of one of these steps in some detail, as an example.
Passwords as an ExampleMany Web sites include some form of authentication. Web site passwords provide a good example of some of the technical issues to consider when migrating from IIS to Apache.
For years, the main option was what is now called "basic authentication." The client machine would send the password as plain text to the server, which would use whatever method it wanted to validate that password against its password store. As sending a password in clear text across the Internet is not secure, digest authentication was born. Unfortunately, digest authentication came around near the end of the browser wars and didn't quickly gain compliance in every browser. As such, it didn't quite take over as the main secure authentication method, losing to basic authentication over an SSL connection as the main source of security.
One more form of authentication also came out around this time: NTLM authentication. NTLM sends hashes of the password to the Web server in the default Windows password format, much the same as Windows networking does. This can be done without prompting the user for a password when run through IE on the local area network. This format took off as the easiest way to provide Web security over corporate networks. While originally only Microsoft Internet Explorer and Microsoft IIS were also able to speak this way, in recent years the Mozilla (and derivative) browser and Apache (through numerous different modules) are able to speak NTLM.
IIS will verify all passwords in one of two ways: on the local machine, or against the domain controller that the server is connected to. This poses a problem for migration, as neither of these formats will allow us to get the passwords to migrate. (This is really a good security feature, as strong passwords should be a one-way street. If the password can be retrieved, it can be hacked.) If the passwords are stored on the local machine, we can retrieve a password hash. If the passwords are verified against a domain controller, Apache can be made to do that too.
This is one example of a technical issue that you may face when performing your migration. The good news is that there are tools and documented best practices for making this migration seamless.
Once You Are ThereAs you can see, there are some compelling reasons to consider moving from Microsoft IIS to Apache on Linux. But migrating is not without its concerns. As with many changes, educating yourself, planning the migration, and choosing the right tools are the keys to a successful transition.
Is Microsoft Going to Open Source IIS?I received a call a couple of weeks ago from an industry analyst asking what I knew about Microsoft's plans to open source IIS. I responded that I hadn't heard anything about it, but if it is true it's probably a good idea.
Whether the rumor is true or not, I cannot imagine that Microsoft will do this. IIS has major challenges maintaining their existing market share. I hear rumblings of Microsoft's desire to eat back into Apache's market, however, they won't be able to do this until they are able to solve their gaping security problems. By then it may be too late.
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Aug. 31, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 439
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Aug. 30, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 344
While many app developers are comfortable building apps for the smartphone, there is a whole new world out there. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Narayan Sainaney, Co-founder and CTO of Mojio, will discuss how the business case for connected car apps is growing and, with open platform companies having already done the heavy lifting, there really is no barrier to entry.
Aug. 30, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 133
As more intelligent IoT applications shift into gear, they’re merging into the ever-increasing traffic flow of the Internet. It won’t be long before we experience bottlenecks, as IoT traffic peaks during rush hours. Organizations that are unprepared will find themselves by the side of the road unable to cross back into the fast lane. As billions of new devices begin to communicate and exchange data – will your infrastructure be scalable enough to handle this new interconnected world?
Aug. 30, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 151
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron's memory solutions enable the world's most innovative computing, consumer,...
Aug. 30, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 222
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevOps to advance innovation and increase agility. Specializing in designing, imple...
Aug. 30, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 286
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Aug. 30, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 876
Consumer IoT applications provide data about the user that just doesn’t exist in traditional PC or mobile web applications. This rich data, or “context,” enables the highly personalized consumer experiences that characterize many consumer IoT apps. This same data is also providing brands with unprecedented insight into how their connected products are being used, while, at the same time, powering highly targeted engagement and marketing opportunities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nathan Treloar, President and COO of Bebaio, will explore examples of brands transforming their businesses by t...
Aug. 30, 2015 10:15 AM EDT Reads: 226
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and analyzed? As an area of investment, how might a retail company move towards an innovation methodolo...
Aug. 30, 2015 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 441
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
Aug. 30, 2015 09:15 AM EDT Reads: 616
The Internet of Things (IoT) is about the digitization of physical assets including sensors, devices, machines, gateways, and the network. It creates possibilities for significant value creation and new revenue generating business models via data democratization and ubiquitous analytics across IoT networks. The explosion of data in all forms in IoT requires a more robust and broader lens in order to enable smarter timely actions and better outcomes. Business operations become the key driver of IoT applications and projects. Business operations, IT, and data scientists need advanced analytics t...
Aug. 30, 2015 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 395
A producer of the first smartphones and tablets, presenter Lee M. Williams will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, COO of ETwater, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater.
Aug. 30, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 120
SYS-CON Events announced today that IceWarp will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IceWarp, the leader of cloud and on-premise messaging, delivers secured email, chat, documents, conferencing and collaboration to today's mobile workforce, all in one unified interface
Aug. 30, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 393
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
Aug. 28, 2015 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 209
Akana has announced the availability of the new Akana Healthcare Solution. The API-driven solution helps healthcare organizations accelerate their transition to being secure, digitally interoperable businesses. It leverages the Health Level Seven International Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) standard to enable broader business use of medical data. Akana developed the Healthcare Solution in response to healthcare businesses that want to increase electronic, multi-device access to health records while reducing operating costs and complying with government regulations.
Aug. 26, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 131
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
Aug. 2, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 553
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
Aug. 1, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 478
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
Jul. 30, 2015 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,564
MuleSoft has announced the findings of its 2015 Connectivity Benchmark Report on the adoption and business impact of APIs. The findings suggest traditional businesses are quickly evolving into "composable enterprises" built out of hundreds of connected software services, applications and devices. Most are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) and microservices technologies like Docker. A majority are integrating wearables, like smart watches, and more than half plan to generate revenue with APIs within the next year.
Jul. 30, 2015 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 278
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
Jul. 30, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,228