Apache on top

According to Netcraft’s October 2014 Web Server Survey Apache’s HTTP server is back on top as the most used server.

The dramatic turn from past surveys that had deployments of Microsoft’s IIS either equal to or even exceeding Apache is deployed servers is attributed to the skewing of IIS numbers by Chinese “click-farms” favoring of Microsoft’s offering on many of their domains — domains that have expired and are now parked on Apache. As a result, Netcraft is now reporting a 37.45% vs 33.58% split between Apache and Microsoft in the numbers of total servers deployed.

Still, when looking at this report you need to pay attention to the clear distinction between total sites and the total active sites. While the gross numbers of Apache and Microsoft servers are still close in the “total” category, it doesn’t look like there’s even a contest when you start looking at how many are actually “active”.

Here’s the chart entitled “Web server developers: Market share of active sites”:

Developer September 2014 Percent October 2014 Percent Percent Change
Apache 90,229,153 50.74% 90,599,505 50.85% 0.11
nginx 25,865,132 14.54% 25,588,943 14.36% -0.18
Microsoft 21,122,925 11.88% 21,700,874 12.18% 0.30
Google 13,737,537 7.73% 13,692,124 7.68% -0.04

This really isn’t a surprise to me. Developers of many small web sites like Windows because it’s familiar to them. Hosting providers will follow their lead because that’s where the money is in their market. Many domain registrars also use Windows servers to publish their “parked” sites, again because those sites don’t have very demanding requirements. But the vast majority of professional sysadmins, whose sites have to serve up content under sometimes extreme conditions, prefer Apache because it has proven to be more flexible and reliable over time

Drilling down in the numbers a bit further I was in fact surprised to see nginx has such a relatively small share of deployments. For all the buzz around it, especially from those working with newer application frameworks like node.js, it looks like it’s still serving a niche market. That’s actually too bad, because nginx is an excellent solution for serving static pages or proxying application servers like Tomcat or various stand-alone node.js applications (Apache can be used for that too, but in those use cases nginx has a significant advantage in content served vs. resources required).

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About phil

My name is Phil Lembo. In my day job I’m an enterprise IT architect for a leading distribution and services company. The rest of my time I try to maintain a semi-normal family life in the suburbs of Raleigh, NC. E-mail me at philipATlembobrothersDOTcom. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own and not those of my employers, past, present or future (except where I quote others, who will need to accept responsibility for their own rants).