A Web Server Software Comparison

Wikipedia has an entry that compares web server software. If you look at the chart then you should see some very important details. Here are the main things to look for:

  • The name of the server is the left most field in the chart
  • The name of the developer is the next field to the right
  • Two columns over is an Open Source column (yes/no)
  • Software license (next to Open Source) tells you your right to use the software
  • Latest stable version and release date are also important

Apache is the most popular server software today, partly because it is free, but mostly because it is open source. Apache has had popular favor since 1996 and there are thousands if not millions of developers who stay at work on it to improve it daily. The latest version was released early this month. That should tell you that Apache is serious about staying on top.

Further down the list you’ll see Internet Information Services, a Microsoft product. It’s not free. It IS proprietary. That means you pretty much have to work with it the way it is. No tweaking of the code to get it to do what you want it to do. Although, Microsoft does offer support for its products so that’s something you don’t get a lot of with Apache. However, Apache does have a strong community of knowledgeable developers who are always willing to assist on a voluntary basis.

Certain things appear to me as red flags. Details like release date of December 29, 2003 for thttpd. OK, so it’s free and open source. That’s not really a selling point for some obscure server software that hasn’t been updated in six years.

There are other server software solutions that you might consider, but are expensive. Oracle has Weblogic, but it costs upwards of $9,000, which puts it in a class above Microsoft’s IIS. Still, Weblogic is a Cadillac among server software solutions.

When it comes to server software, there aren’t a lot of serious options. You have to do your homework and decide on a solution that is going to fit your budget and your long-term technical needs. Don’t get in a hurry.