|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 is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, will look at different existing uses of peer-to-peer data sharing and how it can become useful in a live session to...
Oct. 7, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 552
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program, to be aired during the peak viewership season of the year, will have a major impac...
Oct. 7, 2015 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 186
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
Oct. 7, 2015 04:13 PM EDT
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
Oct. 7, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 201
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, discussed how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust IoT ...
Oct. 7, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,131
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...
Oct. 7, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,063
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT.
Oct. 7, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 7,417
SYS-CON Events announced today that Luxoft Holding, Inc., a leading provider of software development services and innovative IT solutions, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Luxoft’s software development services consist of core and mission-critical custom software development and support, product engineering and testing, and technology consulting.
Oct. 7, 2015 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 607
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Oct. 7, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,903
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Oct. 7, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,848
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Oct. 7, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 479
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
Oct. 7, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 108
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Oct. 7, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 608
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Oct. 7, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 748
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
Oct. 7, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 454
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Oct. 7, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 193
Scott Guthrie's keynote presentation "Journey to the intelligent cloud" is a must view video. This is from AzureCon 2015, September 29, 2015 I have reproduced some screen shots in case you are unable to view this long video for one reason or another. One of the highlights is 3 datacenters coming on line in India.
Oct. 7, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 256
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
Oct. 7, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 468
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services 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. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
Oct. 7, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 673
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
Oct. 7, 2015 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 491