December 4, 2003

IIS is not second best! It’s not! It’s not not not!

A survey released by Port80 software is challenging Netcraft’s long-held claim that Apache has a larger presence on the internet than IIS, and that the gap is growing. Netcraft’s November survey shows Apache running about 68% of all sites, and Microsoft IIS in the low 20’s. Port80 says their survey shows a different outcome, that Microsoft is leading the pack with 53.8%. They say that their survey proves Netcraft’s is of “questionable relevance”. But then they turn around and say that their survey only covers the Fortune 1000 companies. So let me get this straight. Port80 does a survey of the 1000 biggest companies (with presumably the 1000 biggest websites), and somehow they claim this survey is representative of the whole Internet? What a load of bullcrap. Witness this quote from Joe Lima, Port80’s COO.

What do Netcraft’s findings prove about Web server market share? It all depends on how you choose to define ‘market share.’ Netcraft attempts to review every detectable site on the Internet to generate their Web server statistics, and this gives their survey a natural bias in favor of Web servers that host relatively low-traffic or even parked domains.

Yeah, and your survey reviews 1000 pre-defined sites, and that gives your survey a natural bias in favor of Web servers run by massive IT departments in what are predominately Microsoft shops. Of course the Fortune 1000 is going to be running Microsoft. I didn’t need your survey to tell me that, and I’m actually a little surprised that IIS got only 54%. I would have put it much higher. But their statement shows why Port80 has no business denouncing Netcraft’s reseach: they are measuring different things. They are two completely different surveys, and so the fact that they came up with two different sets of results is not at all shocking. What is shocking is Port80’s claim that their survey is more relevant.

As opposed to asking which Web server software is most common across the whole of the Internet, the Port80 survey attempts to determine the Web server of choice among large corporations with high-volume sites and demanding business requirements. With this more business-focused approach, Port80’s monthly surveys represent a clearer picture of the Web site technologies deployed by large businesses today.

Yeah, bully for you. But that’s not what Netcraft’s trying to represent. Netcraft’s surveys try to represent the internet as a whole. They represent the fact that there are not only huge e-commerce and brochureware sites for the Fortune 1000 out there, but that there are millions upon millions of other sites. Weblogs, personal sites, regional sites, fan sites, joke sites, porn sites, travel sites, community sites, technical sites, government sites, the list goes on and on. I hate to burst your bubble, but the Fortune 1000 does not own the internet. Many of us can go for months and months without visiting a Fortune 1000 site. So maybe your survey does what it says and “confirms what most business already know: Microsoft IIS is the Web server of choice for the world’s largest companies.” Well hoo-f’ing-ray. So what? Maybe Charmin is the toilet paper of choice among the world’s top 1000 CEOs. Why don’t you give us a survey on what kind of toothpaste the IT managers of those Fortune 1000 companies use? What relevance does that have to the rest of us? Netcraft uses actual numbers and tries to count everybody. And what Netcraft shows is that Apache is the server of choice among the little people. And there’s more little people than there are Fortune 1000 people, so try to take a quick guess as to which survey I think is more “relevant”.

Read Port80’s survey. Read their press release slamming Netcraft. Then notice the bottom where it says Port80 is in the business of selling solutions that make IIS “on-par or better” than Apache. Who mentioned bias?

Be sure to strap on your hip waders, and make sure the batteries are charged in your BS detectors.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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