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From Andrew Ho <>
Subject What Apache admins want (Was: mod_include performance numbers)
Date Mon, 23 Apr 2001 03:17:35 GMT

Just wanted to add to Jeff's comments about what folks running Apache want.
Here's some background.

I work at Tellme--we run a consumer voice portal (1-800-555-TELL) and also
host voice services for enterprise customers. Our ENTIRE INFRASTRUCTURE is
HTTP based. When a user calls into our service, they instantiate a virtual
voice browser which fetches VoiceXML code from HTTP/HTTPS. All of our data
feeds, etc. are exposed as XML over HTTP. This gives us tremendous
flexibility to interoperate with almost any system.

Internally, we use Apache almost exclusively. We have lots of mod_perl
applications running and also some JSPs; some of our older or less
commonly used stuff is written as CGIs. I'm the Apache guy at Tellme; I
develop code, but also maintain lots of Apache servers.

We use Apache because it is stable, configurable, interoperates with so
many application server technologies, and because it is widely used, well
understood, and open source.

We aggressively cache stuff, so the speed isn't as big of an issue for us.
Our biggest concern by far is stability. We are aiming at 99.999% uptime,
and as our entire service is based on HTTP, the servers are clearly an
important piece of the puzzle.

Now for static VoiceXML and audio files, Apache is rock solid for
stability. In the dynamic arena, things are more complicated (there are
mod_perl and JSP engines to deal with, and SSL is a big headache of
itself), but Apache itself has never introduced a complication of its own
(the 3-second CGI delay bug notwithstanding, but we're willing to forgive
CGI bugs since we don't rely on them for performant stuff).

So, the number one thing we want out of a webserver is that out of the
box, serving static files, it never crashes or burps. The second thing we
require from a webserver is that it can be hooked up immediately to
different application serving technologies--mod_perl or various JSP
engines for example.

Configurability is also a requirement, but I'm almost 100% sure I don't
need to tell Apache authors that. :)

Finally, of course, it's a requirement that performance and scalability
must be "good enough." Apache doesn't need to be as fast or scalable as as
Zeus webserver, just pretty fast and scalable in its own right. In many of
our particular situations we just buy more boxes and chuck 'em behind fast
load balancers instead of relying on monolithic huge servers.

Just another report "from the trenches." Sorry if it distracts from the
(highly interesting) code-update discussions. Feel free to reply
personally rather than to the list if this is OT.



Andrew Ho     
Engineer                   Voice 650-930-9062
Tellme Networks, Inc.       1-800-555-TELL            Fax 650-930-9101

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