Friday, October 13, 2006 12:09 PM bart

IIS in figures - Random thoughts on Netcraft, Port80 and SecuritySpace

Okay, let's counter the most popular kind of feedback for this type of posts: figures are relative, I know. But still I like them :-).

Lately there has been a buzz around measuring the popularity of web services, especially when it comes down to blog sites likes that assign a unique host (DNS) name to each and every site. How does this affect the relevance of the numbers? Also, companies like that do domain parking have a big impact on the results of "web server surveys". When a company like "Go Daddy" migrates (March/April 2006) to another server product like IIS, reactions like "this proves IIS is great to park domains" appear and initiatives to have "open source" domain parking using Apache are started. How mad can one go?

However, figures don't lie. They try to put things in perspective and one should always keep in mind what the figures stand for. Let's start with Netcraft. Here are two survey results (click the images for the corresponding Netcraft Web Server Survey report page):

What does this mean (see reports for figures)? Yes, IIS has grown with over 10 percent from 20.55% to 31.35% (Apache has dropped from 69.89% to 61.44% and Sun is falling down from 2.54% to 0.34% for what it's worth), but when you look at the absolute numbers the number of IIS sites has doubled (see report) from 15,293,030 to 30,704,021, while Apache grows from 52,005,811 to 60,166,642. See what I mean? How does one measure, what's a unique name, can scalability/reliability be measured by hosts (or by correlating the number of hosts to an IP), ... It are all random questions one might come up with. But still: the numbers have some significance when interpreted properly.

However, little people know (I was part of this category till a few weeks ago) there are other initiatives like Port80 that take a different approach, by looking at the Fortune 1000 websites. This time figures are different:

This time the number of hosts is fixed: no influence from Go Daddy and like companies or blog sites with unique host names. Check out for even more figures. Okay, I know: Port80 is a Microsoft Certified Partner, but still: figures are figures. You just have to put it in perspective. And that's what Port80 does too: Which Web Server is "Winning"?.

And what about SecuritySpace? They have a survey too and again, figures are totally different. Here it goes:

They define a well-known site as "a site that had a link to it from at least one other site that we consider well-known". Right, it eliminates domain parking spots etc. However, there's one thing I don't really understand completely: "approximately 90% of all web sites are "fringe" sites, such as domain squatters, personal web sites". Are personal websites not relevant? If they can afford a domain name (often implying some investment from the owner) I think there is some relevance. And what about links originating from search engines, are these accounted for as well (I think more than 10% of the online sites are found by search engines)? In September 06 there were answers from 20,773,757 servers (Netcraft takes pride of 97,932,447 answers). In the end, this is somewhere in between Netcraft and Port80.

Which one do you believe? I believe them all but I like some more than the others. I won't say which one (or do I?). Every figure indicates something; up to you to find out what. Anyway, a tautology to end with: I'm an IIS fan and figures can't change my thoughts. Apparantely over 50% of the Fortune-1000 companies have good taste too :-).

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