An Apache Server Worthy of the Enterprise?

Covalent is trying to prove critics wrong as it launches its Apache Enterprise Ready Server, a more secure, higher-performing version of the open source code Web server.

In 1998, Randy Terbush, one of the original eight developers of the Apache Web server, founded a company, Covalent, to bring out a commercial version of Apache.

A year later, the Gartner Group predicted that the popular Apache server "wouldnt make inroads into the enterprise. It wouldnt be able to keep up" with commercial Web servers, such as Microsofts Internet Information Server, recalls Scott Albro, Covalent vice president of product strategy.

Now Covalent is trying to prove Gartner wrong. Earlier this week, on Nov. 12, Covalent launched Apache Enterprise Ready Server, a more secure, higher-performing version of the open source code Web server. And Gartner has altered its position slightly. On Sept. 19 after a recent Code Red worm attack, one of its analysts urged enterprise customers to consider an alternative to Internet Information Server because it was such a frequent target of malicious code.

The capabilities of the Apache version for large commercial sites include: the ability of one Enterprise Ready Server console to manage hundreds or thousands of Apache Web servers; the ability of one Web server to handle multiple Internet protocols, such as HTTP, HTTPS and FTP, in some cases eliminating the need for separate servers; and the ability to produce a consolidated logging service for multiple Apache Web servers handling various types of content.

Analyzing the logs of dozens or hundreds of separate Apache Web servers "is a nightmare," said Albro. Someone must manually try to pull out related files showing customer activity from many server logs and in the process it is common for the status of logs and files to become confused, he said. Enterprise Ready Server combines server logs "in a well organized repository," said Albro.

In addition, Enterprise Ready Server has been stiffened for increased reliability and security characteristics over its open source cousin, Apache 2.0.

The release brought an endorsement from Brian Behlendorf, lead developer of the open source code server which now runs over 60 percent of active Web sites, according to the U.K. Web server tracking business, Netcraft. The open source code Apache is estimated by Netcraft to be adding one million users a month, a total that currently stands at 19 million.

Enterprise Ready Server "is truly worthy of the term Enterprise," said Behlendorf, president of the Apache Software Foundation and chief technical officer of his own company, CollabNet, a firm producing applications that implement open source methods for software development teams.

Just as many application server companies include the Apache Web server with their product releases, Apache Enterprise Ready Server includes an application server with its product. It is the Tomcat open source code application server, "a lightweight application server" capable of running Java Server Pages, which allow interactive Java elements in HTML pages, and Servlets, the Java command programs for servers, said Jim Zemlin, vice president of marketing.

Unlike commercial Java application servers, however, Tomcat doesnt make use of Enterprise JavaBeans, the distributed Java code that can be called by a Web application for specific services, he added.

The Apache Enterprise Ready development team included Terbush, a founder of the original Apache software project and member of the Apache Software Foundation; Doug MacEachern, co-author of "Writing Apache Modules with Perl and C;" Ryan Bloom, lead developer of Apache 2.0, the current version of the open source server; and Harrie Hazewinkel, author of the Apache Simple Network Management Protocol Management Information Base, which allows an Apache server to be monitored for management purposes.

The Enterprise Ready Server is available immediately at a price of $1,495 per server CPU.