Web Informant #15, February 14th, 1996

Last week's essay on picking the right Intranet platform got the dander up of one of our readers. I offered him the floor and here is his missive. -- David

Warning: This rebuttle is Pro-Silicon Graphics. I can't apologize for it. I work there. My name is Eric Kimminau. I am a communications support engineer. My job is to help people solve problems with their networks. I'll admit up front to a lack of knowledge with respect to Novell's recent improvements to multiple protocol stack stability.

Last week, David Strom sent out on his Web Informant #14, a look at a MS Windows based "Intranet" web server. You know, if you're going to recommend a web server, you should at least give performance numbers of some kind. WebStone numbers would have been nice.

WebStone is a highly-configurable client-server benchmark for HTTP servers. The original WebStone benchmark was released in March, 1995. The original white paperdescribing this benchmark is available from SGI at the link above.

WebStone is not a proprietary benchmark - it is an open benchmark. The source code is freely available, and anyone can examine it. By design, WebStone does not unfairly favor SGI, Netscape, or any other company - it is simply a performance measurement tool.

Saying it is easy to set up and administer may be fine but telling a manager that a Win31 or WinNT server is going to be just the ticket to serve that 1500 page online documentation to your company of 1000 is a bit un-realistic. At least say how many hits you could expect to serve on the machine as a standalone web server and how much ram is recommended for it to run. Any "real" web server should be a dedicated machine.

David's article suffers from the downfall of most PC applications and application vendors. They think they can just slap on another application and run it in the background and it won't affect anything else running on the system.

David's essay is flawed in that he makes no mention of caching or proxy support. Nothing about support for HTML3, java, VRML or any of the other high-stream data types that may be desired. No mention of the impact adding the TCP/IP protocol will have on a typical NetWare network in terms of security, administration or any of the other myriad problems which will result from trying this haphazardly.

The WebStone benchmark clearly shows the advantage of an entry-level WebFORCE ChallengeS WebFORCE server over a high-end Intel Pentium server running Microsoft Windows NT 3.5. Clients attached to the WebFORCE continued to receive prompt attention at a rate of up to 55 per second - equivalent to almost 5 million "hits per day." A more meaningful metric, however, is throughput: WebFORCE handled the equivalent of over two T1 lines (each 1.544Mbit/sec), while Windows NT could only handle a bit over one T1 line.

Flame me all you want I speak for myself and no one else. Silicon Graphics, Inc. is not responsible for any of the content in this article. I wrote it in my spare time at home. -- Eric Kimminau

Thanks Eric. And while you didn't mention these, here are some other places around the net you might want to take a look at:

David Strom
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