Data Networking/Fall 2014/Priya/WEB-SERVER

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A Web Server is a host machine, or workstation, which has the capability to host multiple web sites. The first step is to build a list of available options for the type of Web Server we will use for our project. The available Web Servers are hosted by either Windows (Windows Web Server) or Linux (APACHE HTTP Server or Nginx). There are a lot of differences between the previously mentioned web servers, but the most important factor for a network engineer with low funding would be the cost of the system. Windows Web Servers require purchasing a license to be able to download and configure their web server. On the other hand, Linux is an open source system which provides free license for hosting websites via their web servers.

Therefore, from our previous discussion, we exclude Windows Web Servers from our list of options. The other option we are left with is Apache or Nginx. Nginx is more efficient and powerful than Apache in terms of the time and resources required to serve incoming requests. Nginx uses a parent process, referred to with PID, to dispatch worker processes who use multi-threading to serve incoming requests. In other words, each worker process can handle multiple HTTP connections. On the other hand, Apache uses a parent process, which dispatches child processes, and each HTTP request is handled by a separate process. Apache offers a trade off between speed and compatibility with add-on modules, hence providing more flexibility in terms of server configuration options. Still we can not decide whether Apache or Nginx is more suitable for our project. For our project, the web server is required to host a small number of websites for a small network. Since speed will not be a major problem in our design, therefore we will configure and implement Apache2 web server.

The second step is to decide the type of host machine or workstation that will host or web server and web sites. There are multiple options, including virtual machines, standalone machines and computers. One of the drawbacks of using a Server-Client architecture is that we need an always-on device that will host the web server and serve incoming requests. Therefore, a standalone machine, that supports a client-server architecture, is the preferred choice, but since we are required to demonstrate our networking project, hence we created dual-boot for our laptops, hosting Linux on a separate partition than Windows.

This concludes our discussion of the host machine and web server that we used in our project. The next step will be installing and configuring the Apache2 web server.