Technology Positioning Statement Report

5.1.3 Internet Servers and Firewalls

Description: Servers with security features, intended for interfacing to and from insecure Internet environments.

Category: 5 - Servers   Subcategory: 1 - General Purpose Servers
Old Category: none


ISA Server


Industry UsageSC Usage

Performance Metrics

Scalability, reliability, speed, ease of administration, automated management capabilities, document search and management features.

Usage and Dependencies

Industry Usage: The massive move toward web-based architectures has resulted in a proliferation of features and enhancements being added to the basic web server functionality, such as search engines, caching, logging, programming (see category 1.2.1), transaction services (3.1.13), content management (2.1.4) etc. Features not covered elsewhere will be described below.

Cache features: "Web services" are the combination of Web servers, cache servers, front-end security and IP traffic management functions that are used to process and manage the HTTP requests coming into the application system.

Caching has been at the center of fundamental architectural evolution in computer technology since the first system designer pondered the differential costs and performance of registers vs. RAM vs. disk, and it has remained a key focal point of many improvements in system and network performance. In the world of the Web and HTTP protocols, caching has suddenly emerged as a very visible user issue, starting with early (in Web time) copies of FTP and Gopher archives and emerging as a critical consideration for modern Web-centric architectures.

The use of caches to hold copies of static or infrequently changing pages "closer" to the requestor can have dramatic effects on the user-perceived performance or the resources required to achieve a given level of performance. Because of this potential for simultaneous performance improvement and operating cost reduction, we expect the use of caching technology to accelerate. While caching is really still in its infancy, with aggregate penetration less than 25 percent (most of which is in the form of security filtering proxy caches), the technology is changing rapidly, with significant innovation during the last six months and additional products expected by the end of the year. For serious caching, beyond the basic software caches offered by Netscape and Microsoft , the emerging players appear to be Novell , Network Appliance , Cisco , CacheFlow and, at the high-end, Inktomi .

Basically, there are two major divisions of caching systems: pure software on general-purpose platforms and dedicated appliances with specialized software and file systems. In the former group are Microsoft's Proxy Server, Netscape's Proxy Server and Novell's Border Manager FastCache as well as higher-end solutions from Inktomi.

The transformation of the Web into an integral part of the enterprise infrastructure has resulted in a number of fundamental changes in the characteristics of enterprise IT infrastructure.

The Web significantly raises the stakes for availability and scalability, since many Web-based applications are now inherently 24x7 applications, accessible to the entire world, and many of them are enterprise critical in that they either handle financial transactions or are used to touch real customers, whose experiences with the application will color their perceptions of the corporate owner.

IT architects must plan to incorporate new architectural elements, including caching, IP traffic management, load balancing and content replication for many large applications. The addition of a new architectural layer --- Web services --- has changed the way in which entire applications are partitioned, including choices about performing process on the Web server, on a mid-tier server or on a back-end server.

Capacity planning in an era of ubiquitous connectivity is extremely difficult, and old models of growth, backup and contingency resources are no longer adequate. IT management must combine scalability and availability in the basic Web infrastructure. The good news is that modern load balancing and caching technology allow this to be done at a reasonable cost, both in terms of capital and complexity, at least in comparison to the consequences of ignoring it.

Infrastructures for Web-Enabled Applications: Foundations for the 21st Century (Thematic Planning Assumption) April 22, 1999 Richard Fichera, Giga

Search engines: Microsoft continues to include basic search ("Index Server") in its IIS 5 product, now part of Windows 2000 Server. Microsoft’s Site Server Search product is being replaced by the search functionality that is now part of SharePoint Portal Server. Similarly, Lotus has included search in its Discovery Server product. The enterprise search tools market has seen significant consolidation during the last 24 months. As vendors such as Microsoft, Lotus and Netscape bundled search engines into their Web servers and other products, basic search functionality became a commodity. Many organizations chose to use these bundled tools to provide search on their sites. This made the businesses of search vendors, such as Verity, Excalibur, Fulcrum, Infoseek and AltaVista, more precarious. The last two years saw Fulcrum purchased by PCDocs (which was, in turn, acquired by Hummingbird, and the Fulcrum engine is now a Hummingbird product), Infoseek purchased by Disney and then the Ultraseek product acquired by Inktomi, Excalibur merged with a unit of Intel to form the new company called Convera and so on. Given the consolidation that has taken place during the last couple of years, the enterprise search tools market is relatively stable today, since there are not many stand-alone search engine vendors remaining. -- Market Overview: Enterprise Search, Kathleen Hall, Giga, March 23, 2001.

Microsoft has recently introduced several specialized servers, including Internet Security and Application Server for Internet web hosting, as a replacement for SiteServer.

SC Usage:  Microsoft Internet Information Server 4.0, running on Windows NT 4.0, is the current practice.  Migration to Windows 2000 Server, with Internet Information Server 5.0, will begin in the Fall of 2001.

SC Application Impacts: Transaction components, if any, will need to be converted from IIS 4's MTS to COM+ code to work on IIS 5.0. 

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