Zeus Web Server Gaining Power

Charles Babcock

Zeus Technology is still a small player when it comes to serving up Web sites, but it seems to be gaining some of the power its name suggests.

The Zeus Web Server was the only one besides Apache Server to post gains in a February survey of servers conducted by the U.K.’s Netcraft.

The well-known Apache Server — produced by open-source developers The Apache Software Foundation, formerly the Apache Group — is clearly dominant on the Web, with 59.99 percent of 21.1 million surveyed sites. Zeus, on the other hand, is a little-known commercial product with a tiny but growing 2.85 percent of sites.

The two servers posted gains that were the largest of the 10 servers listed — and accounted for much of the decline of Microsoft’s Internet Information Server, at one time a contender for first place. IIS is now relegrated to a distant No. 2, at 19.63 percent and declining.

Zeus has run the Web servers devoted to searches on eBay’s auction site for two years. With an average 2.1 million visitors conducting 20 million searches per day, the online auction house needed a reliable traffic handler, said Janet Nace, senior software engineer at eBay.

Once Zeus replaced Microsoft on eBay’s servers, the demand on processors dropped from 70 percent of capacity to 30 percent, Nace said.

Zeus spokesmen said such gains in efficiency are one reason they can sell a Web server in the face of Apache’s free availability. Zeus Server is priced at $1,699 per server. It runs on the Apple Computer Mac operating system, Linux and Unix — but as a Unix-based system, it has the peculiar characteristic of supporting Microsoft’s Internet Server Application Programming Interface. That feature enabled eBay to transition from IIS to Zeus, said Andrew Parker, Zeus’ vice president of global services.

Other users of Cambridge, England, Zeus’ product include online greeting card supplier Blue Mountain Arts, Telewest Communications’ blueyonder workwise business hosting service and Cable & Wireless.

“[Zeus] may be faster, but we haven’t optimized Apache for performance yet. We’ve been concerned with stability,” said Brian Behlendorf, lead developer at The Apache Software Foundation.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in eWEEK.

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