Back in the 80’s, GM had an advertising campaign for it’s Oldsmobile line of cars called “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile”. Oldsmobile had kind of a stodgy reputation for being the cars that old people drove. Heck, my grandfather had one! GM wanted younger people to check out Oldsmobile, so hence the slogan. Although, I think they probably should have just taken the word “Old” out of the brand.
Ford had a similar advertising campaign called “Have you driven a Ford lately?”. The phrase had a catchy little jingle to it that was heard at the end of most of their car & truck commercials. The purpose was to get people to consider checking out Ford vehicles if their last impression of them (probably bad) might have been a while ago.
Fast forward to today where Oldsmobile doesn’t exist anymore and I’m still not sure most folks will ever look at a Ford (unless they want a big gas guzzling SUV). Hopefully, that is not the case for Microsoft’s Internet Information Server (IIS). IIS is Microsoft’s web server that runs on Windows Server. IIS hasn’t gone away. Instead, it’s gone through many iterations and the latest, included in Windows Vista, is IIS 7.
Like Oldsmobile and Ford, IIS has faced its challenges in the past. The biggest one being security. When IIS 4 & 5 were gaining in popularity in the late 90s and early 2000s, they were besieged by numerous security issues. The vulnerabilities exploited by Nimda and Code Red had a huge negative impact on Microsoft’s customers. At the time, numerous media outlets and tech pundits advised folks to steer clear of IIS.
To this day, one of the biggest challenges I have faced at companies that want to adopt Microsoft’s web development platform, ASP.NET, is that someone somewhere in the IT department has “banned” IIS. I’ve heard the whole gambit of excuses: “It’s not secure!” or “It doesn’t scale!” or “That’s not a real web server!”.
The reality is that IIS has come a long way since those dark days in 2001 and 2002. IIS 6, which is part of Windows Server 2003, had major improvements in security added as a result of a hard core security review. Now IIS 7 is here in Vista, and soon in Windows Server 2008. IIS 7 brings a ton of improvements to the web server for both administrators and developers.
Bill Staples, who is on the IIS team, recently wrote a post on the IIS blog titled “My Take: IIS vs. Apache”. Bill talks about the changes IIS 7 has gone through. It’s definitely worth the read! And if you haven’t test driven IIS 7 lately, I highly recommend you check it out, because IIS 7 is NOT your father’s web server!