A new commercial version of Apache, the most popular Web server used on the Internet, is now shipping with performance enhancements that make it run significantly faster in secure mode than previous versions.
Stronghold 3.1, developed by Community ConneXion with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) security built in, is being marketed on the Net for $495. The latest version, which can be evaluated free for 30 days, is based on Apache 1.1.1.
Stronghold 1.3 supports "session ID caching," which allows servers to process connections from users as much as 800 percent faster in limited performance tests.
"With session ID caching, the SSL protocol is not noticeably slower than not using the encryption protocol," said Sameer Parekh, president of Community ConneXion, a two-year-old firm with six employees. "There is no excuse not to encrypt everything."
Parekh describes Stronghold, which runs on various versions of the Unix operating system, as the first commercial version of Apache SSL. A Windows NT version is in the works.
Parekh's first customers were primarily Internet service providers, but lately the firm has seen more corporate interest in using Stronghold for intranets or for sharing certain information with partners, two uses where security is important.
Because Stronghold is based on Apache, a large number of third-party modules to provide new functions are available for the server. Those include modules for Perl and CGI scripts and database connectivity.
Stronghold provides technical support and has simplified certain aspects of Apache Group's technology. Parekh is also a member of the Apache Group.
Other new features include more authentication of users, which assures that the right people can see sensitive corporate data, and a new "status" feature that lets Webmasters monitor who's using their Web site in real time. Stronghold's source code is also available with the product.
According to the Netcraft server survey, Apache Web servers are the most popular on the Internet, with a 35.68 percent market share. Stronghold, for example, has 1.43 percent compared to Netscape's 14.62 percent and Microsoft's 5.49 percent.