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Apache 2.0 to debut Monday--partway

Covalent Technologies decides version 2.0 is ready for prime time and sets the release of the long-awaited server software ahead of software from the larger Apache project itself.

Covalent Technologies will release its long-awaited version 2.0 of the Apache Web server software Monday--ahead of software from the larger Apache project itself.

Apache 2.0 initially was expected by the end of 2000 but only entered beta testing in April 2001. The open-source software, a competitor to Sun Microsystems' iPlanet Web server and Microsoft's Internet Information Server, is used to send Web pages from servers to browsers.

San Francisco-based Covalent decided version 2.0 was ready for prime time, said Jim Zemlin, vice president of marketing. Covalent sells the core open-source package along with proprietary enhancements that allow easier management, encrypted communications for credit card transactions, and other features.

"We've done extensive testing and quality assurance, and we think it's ready to deploy at large enterprises," he said.

But Covalent, which employs some but not all of the key members of the Apache development effort, is ahead of the rest of the Apache programmers, who still consider 2.0 to be beta software and whose current "production version" is 1.3.22, which is ready for real-world use.

"We hope to see those guys come out soon with general availability status of apache 2.0," Zemlin said.

Apache 2.0 is based on a new structure that allows faster performance in some cases, by allowing the software to answer Web page requests by initiating a new program job called a "thread." This job is less taxing than the earlier requirement of a more complicated "process." The new version also works better on Windows computers than the current version, which is geared for Unix and Linux systems.

The Apache 2.0 software is part of Covalent's Enterprise Ready Server product, which costs $1,495 per CPU. That's a big increase from the previous $995 price tag, but Covalent argues that the performance increases mean the new version doesn't require as many CPUs' worth of servers, and that the new management features decrease the cost of administration.

Covalent's new product has management features that let an administrator control dozens of Web servers at once, changing their configuration en masse or monitoring their condition.

According to Internet tracking company Netcraft, Apache is in use at about twice as many Internet sites as the second-place Microsoft Internet Information Server software, though Microsoft has the lead when it comes to encrypted transactions more typical of business use. Microsoft has responded to the Apache threat by making a lower-cost version of Windows geared specifically for Web servers.

Oracle and IBM both have incorporated Apache into their products, and Sun Microsystems has supported some extensions that improve Apache's support for Sun's Java programming technology.