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Comparing IIS and Apache: Questions and Answers
Published: March 2009

Contents
Comparing IIS and Apache: Questions and Answers1

Understanding IIS and Apache2
Apache HTTP Server2
Internet Information Server 6.02
Internet Information Services 7.03

Common Questions from Apache Administrators4
Does IIS offer the performance and scalability I need?4
Is IIS as secure as Apache?4
Is IIS harder to manage than Apache?5
Is IIS as reliable as Apache?5
Is IIS really as modular as Apache?6
Apache is an innovative platform. What about IIS?6
Troubleshooting Web applications can be complicated. What does IIS offer to simplify troubleshooting?7 I depend on a wide variety of Web architectures. Can I run them on IIS?8 Yes, PHP applications can run on IIS, but is it really a good idea?8 Will IIS be more expensive than Apache?8

Conclusions10

IIS 7.0 Resources11

Comparing IIS and Apache: Questions and Answers

In this paper, we examine Internet Information Server (IIS) from the perspective of an administrator familiar with the Apache HTTP Server. Apache administrators have many questions as to whether IIS can perform as well as Apache: Can it handle the same workloads and the same throughput? Can it provide the same reliability? Can it do all these things with high security? We seek to answer these questions by providing examples from real users who have run these products in mission-critical operations.

Understanding IIS and Apache

While both Apache and IIS service HTTP requests, each Web server has its own architecture, built-in features, and common add-ons. Though developed independently, both Web servers provide many of the same features, through either built-in functionality or add-on modules. Both servers support the following functions:

HTTP request processing

Authentication

Access control

Encryption (SSL)

Caching

Web site isolation

Bandwidth throttling

Load balancing

Web frameworks and middleware

Configuration files and management APIs

Modular architecture

Apache HTTP Server

First released in 1995, the Apache HTTP Server is a free open-source Web server developed under the governance of the Apache Software Foundation. The Apache 2.0 license permits bundling with commercial software and does not require derivative works to be open source.

A variety of developers make code contributions to the project, including members of the Apache Software Foundation, developers who are allowed or instructed to work on Apache by their corporate employers, and even individuals contributing to Apache on their own time. Companies that use Apache range from start-ups to long-established large enterprises. Apache is used for intranets and public facing Web sites.

Apache is a key component in what’s known as the “LAMP” stack, which comprises the Linux operating system; the Apache Web server; the MySQL database; and either PHP, Perl, or Python programming language. While people often perceive Apache as a Linux Web server, it also runs on Windows.

Internet Information Server 6.0

With Windows Server 2003, Microsoft introduced Internet Information Server (IIS) 6.0, which has proven to be a very secure Web server, with only four vulnerabilities reported since its release in 2003. IIS security results from Microsoft investing in the Security Development Lifecycle, an end-to-end approach to security that typically reduces both the total number and the severity of vulnerabilities in software built using that methodology.[i] This isn’t to say that Apache is not secure, as high-profile and widely available Web sites wouldn’t use it if they thought it were, but simply to point out that IIS 6.0 was designed with security in mind, and has a great security track record.

IIS 6.0 included a number of features that made it a good fit for...
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