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An Apache Server is a web server application that delivers content such as HTML pages, multimedia and CSS Style sheets over the internet. Apache is a community-developed web application published by the Apache Software Foundation. It is arguably the most popular web server software available on the World Wide Web and is most commonly found on Unix based operating systems such as Linux, OSX, Solaris and FreeBSD.
Apache is open source, and as such, it is developed and maintained by a large group of global volunteers. One of the key reasons Apache is so popular is that the software is free for anyone to download and use. There is no direct support or maintenance provided by the Apache foundation; however, there are vast amounts of documentation and online forums to gain help from the community. Commercial support for Apache is available from web hosting companies, such as Atlantic.Net. An Apache Server is implemented by service providers to offer clients web hosting solutions, like Atlantic.Net's HIPAA compliant website hosting, and content delivery.
Apache is a modular application, meaning that its structure allows extra functionality to be added to the core application. Apache is commonly combined with a SQL Database (such as MYSQL or MariaDB) and a server-side programming language (such as PHP). Installing PHP on top of the base Operating System gives a range of additional features and tools, empowering developers to create fluid and dynamic websites. Native support for SSL certificates and the ability to load balance across multiple servers are other key modular features. Apache Tomcat is another popular module for an Apache Server, which offers web browser clients java servlet support.
The foundations of the Apache web server started in the US at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). A team, including key developer Robert McCool wrote the NCSA HTTPd Web Server. This was one of the earliest client-server web servers available. In the early 1990s, the NCSA HTTPd web server powered an overwhelming majority of the Internet’s websites.i
Robert McCool left the NSCA in 1994, and soon after, the NCSA ceased development of HTTPd Web Server. In 1995, the Apache Foundation started to take shape, with developers beginning to update and share the HTTPd Web Server source code with the aim to further its development; this eventually culminated in the open source Apache Webserver being released.ii
Apache Web Server is well-optimized and can handle a large amount of traffic and data transfer on minimal hardware requirements. Apache is easily scalable; as a website grows, system administrators can easily increase the number of web servers in their web hosting farm. Above all, Apache is free. This is a huge advantage over web servers in the marketplace which have expensive licensing models, not to mention require more hardware resources.
Apache is a multitasking program which gathers data from a server to deliver content from the server filesystem to a client request. The client is usually a web browser, and the filesystem is where the website content is stored. The web server can interact with modules, databases and applications to create data and content; this data is then published to the client (usually a desktop web browser). Apache is capable of publishing multiple requests simultaneously to several clients at once. The only limiting factor is the hardware capabilities of the server itself.
Apache Web Server is used by approximately 47% of all internet websites,iii and of the top one million websites, Apache is used on nearly 69% of them.iv Linux is the most popular operating system to use with Apache. Most WordPress hosting providers offer Apache on Linux hosting hardware, often teamed with management applications such as cPanel. Some of the world’s biggest companies trust Apache Server, including Apple, Google, PayPal and Adobe.v
iWww6.uniovi.es. (2018). NCSA httpd Overview. [online] Available at: http://www6.uniovi.es/~antonio/ncsa_httpd/Overview.html [Accessed 10 May 2018].
iiApache.org. (2018). ASF History Project. [online] Available at: https://www.apache.org/history/ [Accessed 9 May 2018].
iiiW3techs.com. (2018). Usage Statistics and Market Share of Apache for Websites, May 2018. [online] Available at: https://w3techs.com/technologies/details/ws-apache/all/all [Accessed 11 May 2018].
ivCalin, B. (2018). Statistics from the top 1,000,000 websites - Acunetix. [online] Acunetix. Available at: https://www.acunetix.com/blog/articles/statistics-from-the-top-1000000-websites/ [Accessed 11 May 2018].
vW3techs.com. (2018). Usage Statistics and Market Share of Apache for Websites, May 2018. [online] Available at: https://w3techs.com/technologies/details/ws-apache/all/all [Accessed 11 May 2018].
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