UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

When Trends Can Mislead: The Rise, Fall and Rise of Apache

Posted by Brian Kelly on 11 Oct 2011

Back in April 2008 in a post entitled “The Rise and Fall of Apache?” I contrasted the fall in the numbers of Web servers running on the Apache Web server software with the corresponding rise in use of the Microsoft Web server software, as illustrated below.

But how have things changed over the past three years? A recent email alert from Netcraft has provided an answer. As can be seen from the October 2011 Web Server Survey (illustrated below) since 2009 there has been a steady decline in usage of Microsoft server software and a corresponding increase in use of Apache.


One lesson from this is that trends won’t always be an accurate predictor of future developments. But in addition, when I published the initial post Mike Nolan, Richard Cunningham and others suggested that the overall figures of Web server usage were not necessarily accurate. Rather it would be more appropriate to show the trends for active Web server usage.

Those comments, all of which were made on the day the post was published, were valuable in informing me of flaws in my interpretation of the data. The timeliness of the responses was also helpful in minimising dangers that others may have read the post and be unaware of the flaws in the interpretation of the data.  I think that illustrates the value of providing commentable articles and in minimising barriers for commenting (note there are no approval processes in place which could delay publication of comments).

So now we should be able to say with some confidence that the Apache server is well-established as the leading tools for providing Web sites around the world.  I suspect that this will also be true across the UK higher education sector. And although we sometime talk of the value of platform-independent solutions, there are times when it may be legitimate to develop solutions for particular platforms.  I am particularly interested in ways in which institutions may be able to implement recommendations provided by the Linked You Toolkit developed at the University of Lincoln.

One the the recommendations was that:

attention needs to be given to the way institutions transition to a shared ontology for the sector. Research needs to be done that examines and recommends strategies for migrating from existing and legacy URI structures to a model of best practice. HTTP 3xx status codes are at the heart of this.

Might appropriate strategies for development of shared approaches be based on developments for the Apache server, which it seems, is likely to be widely deployed across the sector?

One Response to “When Trends Can Mislead: The Rise, Fall and Rise of Apache”

  1. Mike Nolan said

    You’ve made the same mistake again:

    “since 2009 there has been a steady decline in usage of Microsoft server software and a corresponding increase in use of Apache”

    While IIS’ market share has decreased, the absolute number of sites hosted on IIS has steadily increased since 2009!

    Lies, damned lies, and statistics :-)

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