Apache Puts on a Coat and Tie

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2002-05-20

Apache Puts on a Coat and Tie


Apache Puts on a

Coat and Tie">

Covalent Technologies Inc.s Enterprise Ready Server 2.1 takes the popular, powerful Apache Web server and adds much-needed management and configuration features that help to make Apache Groups product more attractive to large-enterprise Web operations.

Enterprise Ready Server 2.1, which shipped this month, takes special advantage of the recent release of Apache 2.0 through a new Windows implementation. Using Enterprise Ready Server 2.1, businesses can take full advantage of Apache and move away from Microsoft Corp.s Internet Information Services without having to learn how to configure and manage Apache through .conf files.

With Covalents Enterprise Ready Server, companies can easily build customized implementations and manage them through an intuitive and secure browser-based management interface.

In tests, we found Enterprise Ready Server to be a very useful and powerful management layer for the Apache Web server, not only easing basic configuration and management chores but also making it easy to implement features that typically involve complex scripting.

The main component of Enterprise Ready Server is the powerful, free open-source Apache Web server. Those who are just moving to Apache will very likely find the Covalent product attractive, especially in large, multiserver environments.

However, many current Apache users, especially those who dont want or need a management interface, will probably be comfortable sticking with Apaches .conf files.

At $1,495, Enterprise Ready Server 2.1 is priced in line with competing products such as Sun Microsystems Inc.s Sun ONE (Open Net Environment) Web Server (formerly iPlanet Enterprise Server) and Zeus Technology Ltd.s Zeus Web Server. However, in the case of these competing products, companies are purchasing the entire Web server, rather than just a management layer for an open-source product.

Many companies will find a lot to like in Covalents Enterprise Ready Server update, especially sites that manage many servers. However, despite the nice added management features and streamlined installs, sites with single-server implementations may be better off learning how to manage Apache as is.

Managing Just Fine

We found the browser-based management portal in Enterprise Ready Server to be intuitive and capable. When accessing the interface from a remote system, the management session is done through a Secure Sockets Layer connection. This greatly reduces, although it doesnt remove, the potential security risks inherent in remote administration.

In the management interface, it was simple to carry out standard administration tasks, such as creating virtual servers or directories. Some of the best features were those that greatly eased tasks that are usually difficult in Apache, such as adding new modules or receiving alerts for specific server activity—something that typically would require creating a cron job.

Another welcome feature in Enterprise Ready Server is advanced log management, which makes it possible to quickly combine logs from multiple servers. This upgrade includes excellent real-time monitoring capabilities.

Like competing Web servers, Enterprise Ready Server can handle standard access control and advanced session user authentication. In addition to using standard Apache access mechanisms, such as .htaccess files, Enterprise Ready Server can also leverage external authentication sources such as LDAP directories.

Besides Apache Web Server, Covalent Enterprise Ready Server includes other applications within its installation, including the Tomcat Java Server Page server.

Covalent also has its own FTP server, which can be optionally added to Enterprise Ready Server.

East Coast Technical Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at jim_rapoza@ ziffdavis.com.

Enterprise Ready Server 2

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Businesses will find Covalents Enterprise Ready Server to be an excellent option for deploying and managing the Apache Web server, especially in large, multiserver environments. However, organizations that dont have advanced management needs or that require only one server will probably prefer to stick to plain old vanilla Apache.

Cost Analysis

The $1,495 price of the Enterprise Ready Server is on par with competing enterprise-level Web servers, but businesses will have to decide whether the benefits of eased deployment and management offset the cost over the free open-source Apache.

(+) Excellent browser-based management portal for Apache; includes much-needed analysis and reporting features; now works on Windows servers.

(-) Core functionality of product is available in the free Apache Web server.

Evaluation Short List

•Apaches Apache Web Server
•Microsofts Internet Information Services
•Sun Microsystems Sun ONE Web Server
•Zeus Technologys Zeus Web Server


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