Case Study: UNIX and Windows NT web server technology

Since 1988, UUNET has closely monitored developments in web server technology. Today, the company uses both UNIX and Windows NT...

Since 1988, UUNET has closely monitored developments in web server technology. Today, the company uses both UNIX and Windows NT systems to offer customers a wide variety of services.

UUNET now have points of presence in nearly 1,000 cities worldwide, it has increased its UK backbone by over 7000 per cent, from 2Mbit/s to 155Mbit/s. A recent check on traffic volumes generated within the UUNET network recorded an average flow of one terabyte per day. Significantly, 75 of The Times newspaper's top 100 companies use UUNET Internet services.

UUNET's core business is providing business Internet connections. These range from their single user dial-up service, PIPEX Dial, to ISDN access, to leased lines from 64Kbit/s through to 45Mbit/s. UUNET also supply a range of Internet solutions for businesses including web hosting and design, security solutions and training.

The UUNET network is based on a powerful backbone, which offers local access in nearly 1000 cities worldwide, at speeds ranging from 28.8Kbit/s to 45Mbit/s. UUNET owns and operates national networks in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and the US. The company also maintains extensive connections to world partners throughout Europe and in the Asia/Pacific region. The company's backbone extends across both the Atlantic and Pacific, and includes direct fibre optic connections between Europe, North America and Asia. UUNET even offers satellite services for remote areas that lack Internet connections.

UUNET UK's dial-up infrastructure, used for the PIPEX Dial service, covers the entire UK, all at local call rates. This network offers 56Kbit/s access speeds using both US Robotics x2 and K56 flex. UUNET UK's Network Operations Centre (NOC) is manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, monitoring the network to prevent or rapidly fix any problems.

When it was founded, UUNET relied solely on UNIX technology; the name UUNET actually being an acronym for UNIX to UNIX Network. However, in recent years, Windows NT server technology has become more prominent within the company.

Currently, UUNET offer what they call the Facilities Managed Server program, a service that hosts and maintains websites and applications for corporate customers. These customers have the opportunity to choose between UNIX servers, supplied by Sun Microsystems or ProLiant servers, supplied by Compaq, running Windows NT. Currently, servers running NT are the most popular choice for hosting corporate web pages, ranging from entry level, single processor systems with 128Mb of RAM, to high-end multi-processor servers with several gigabytes of RAM. However, Sun Solaris systems are widely used by UUNET's customers as database and applications servers, particularly among those using Oracle products. This mix of web server technology is prevalent throughout the company's entire infrastructure.

UK Marketing Director, Joe Clift elaborates: "We try and strike a reasonable balance between the two technologies. Both work well in terms of hardware servers and I don't see us changing that at the moment. On the OS side, it's UNIX and NT again. With applications, we don't tend to do a lot of that here. It's mostly managed through our channel partners."

Compaq Computer Corporation is one of the largest IT companies in the world, and currently holds the number one position in the desktop PC market. The company is also a leading manufacturer of servers and portable computers and offer mission-critical solutions for business. Sun Microsystems is the leading manufacturer of RISC-based computer products. With offices in 150 countries, the company also produces high-speed microprocessors, software and network storage.

Over the past few years, many well-known Internet Service Providers, including America Online and free services such as, have made use of the UUNET international network to reach new users. The company is also monitoring recent developments in the fields of Application Service Providers (ASPs) and e-commerce. Future technological developments at UUNET will reflect their customers' changing demands for Internet and network services.

"As ASPs come to the fore, we are going to be increasingly involved in that arena." Explains Clift. "We're close to launching a developer program targeted at ASPs, ISVs and OEMs. We'll get them on board as developer partners, enabling them to run their equipment and tests on our network."

BY LINE Richard Pitt

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