Netcraft: Open web platforms the winners

Apache, nginx up; IIS down

A new survey from Netcraft has Apache, Nginx, and Google's web servers all up, with Microsoft IIS market share dropping down, raising questions about the health of Microsoft's related offerings.

The Netcraft results are always interesting, because there's always a little something for everyone. Depending on how the data is presented, a given hosted domain could be up, down, or off in the ninth dimension. So, care must be taken when qualifying the survey results.

For instance, if you look at top servers across all domains, then Apache jumped up about 22.5 million to 420.3 million domains, NGINX was up 4.7 million hostnames to 65.5 million, and Google's internal web server up to 21.2 million--an increase of 1.8 million domains. IIS servers in the survey rose, too: up 761 thousand to about 89.0 million. But, in terms of market share on those same top domains, there's a different story.

If you examine these same numbers as market share percentages, then Apache was up .32 points to 65.24 percent, nginx up .25 points to 10.15 percent of market share, Google up .12 points to 3.28 percent, and Microsoft down .58 points to 13.81 percent of the top domains.

Emphasis, then, is the key to understanding how these numbers work.

Narrowing the focus can add even more variety to the mix:

"Amongst the Million Busiest Sites, Apache again suffered a small drop in market share this month, losing 1,700 sites, extending a trend that dates back to August 2011. Microsoft gained 110 sites making this the first time it has recorded an increase since June 2010. nginx continued to increase its market share and gained 1.2k sites, whilst Google suffered a small loss of 289 sites."

Across most of the surveys, though, it's clear that IIS's market share is steadily declining, even as their real numbers increase slowly. It raises an interesting corollary about the overall status of Microsoft's cloud efforts, because I have to wonder how IIS is faring on Microsoft's own Azure cloud platform, where one would think IIS would have a strong showing. I also now begin to ponder how SharePoint growth is going, because that is heavily reliant on IIS, too.

To be fair, reliant, but not dependent: you can run SharePoint on Apache using reverse proxy configurations (though I have no personal knowledge how well this runs), and Apache can run on Azure as part of an AAMP stack.

Then there's the bigger question: IIS comes standard with Windows Server operating systems. So… if IIS share is declining, then what does this say about overall Windows Server market share? Again, maybe not much, since you can run Apache and nginx on Windows if you really, really wanted. But given the availability of Linux, Solaris-based and BSD-based platforms, why would you want to plunk down the cash for Windows Server?

People will choose to interpret the tea leaves of this Netcraft survey in many different ways, but my big takeaway is that the complete and total acceptance of open source tools based on how they are and not how vendors like Microsoft would like us to believe them to be has definitely happened.

Microsoft may try its periodic FUD campaigns, but I think we all know better. The market, it seems, tends to agree.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Zettatag and Open for Discussion blogs and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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