The latest version of Zeus Technology's Web server software gives solution providers and their customers some good reasons to switch over from Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS), iPlanet and Apache, solution providers and analysts say.
Paul Monaghan, principal consultant at Telus, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based telco that resells Zeus, said he likes the software especially for its management features.
Zeus' John Moeller said pacing the Web server software in front of IIS prevents security breaches.
"At an ISP, you're adding new domains all the time, and one of the biggest issues is maintaining all those configurations," Monaghan said. "With Apache, you had to log on to each box, but Zeus has a centralized interface that lets you make the change once to all the servers. It's a big time-saver."
Telus' most recent Zeus win was with a large Canadian cable company. "There's no question that Zeus is extremely fast, but for this customer, it was the [software's] manageability that sold them," Monaghan said.
John Moeller, general manager of Zeus' U.S. office, said the recent rash of security breaches, including the Nimba virus and Code Red worm, brought vulnerability issues concerning Microsoft's IIS to the forefront. Placing Zeus in front of IIS protects customers from such attacks, he said.
Zeus' long-term plan is to work with solution providers, especially those in the education and government markets, to lure customers away from IIS and over to Zeus Web Server 4.0. To do that, the company has to show potential partners how they'll benefit from the switch.
"In the six years we've been in business, [our product] has never been hacked," Moeller said. "Resellers will be able to give [customers] a bulletproof Web site using secure software at the highest performance."
Zeus also requires one-third less hardware than competitive products, he said. "Instead of having to push more hardware sales at lower margins, resellers can focus on a sale based on services and consultation."
One problem solution providers may encounter with Zeus, however, is a lack of brand recognition, Telus' Monaghan said. "A lot of companies we come across don't know about Zeus," he said. "It's a shame because a lot of these customers are at a point where they're running two boxes on Apache or iPlanet, but they're growing six to 12 boxes. It becomes very tiresome and troublesome."
Stacey Quandt, an analyst at Giga Information Group, said Zeus' hypertext preprocessor demonstrates "blistering performance." Also, Zeus 3.4r3, the predecessor to 4.0, is the current leader on SPECweb99, a Web server performance test run by benchmarking company Standard Performance Evaluation.
Given all that, it's interesting that Apache is so well-known while Zeus is not, she said. In fact, Apache powers 60 percent of public Web sites, according to a recent Web Server Survey by Netcraft, a company that offers security assessment and network administration services, Quandt said.
Netcraft's survey does not take into consideration, however, the use of Zeus as a back-end Web server that sits behind front-end servers tracking Web-site visitor traffic, she said.
"For example, a search for www.ebay.com returns results indicating that it runs on IIS on Windows 2000," Quandt said. "This is because the visitor-tracking software runs on Windows and is on the front-end Web server. Behind the front-end server is a series of back-end Web servers that support Zeus on Solaris."
Zeus 4.0, used primarily by Web hosting companies, content providers and companies with high-traffic Web sites, now includes monitoring features that enable customers to track concurrent users, manage site volume and see who is communicating with their sites. The new version is also 46 percent faster than its competitors, Moeller said.