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Report from ApacheCon 2000
Pages: 1, 2, 3

ApacheCon 2000: Day Three

By getting up early this morning, I discovered something about the Caribe Royale: they turn off the waterfall that cascades into the pool each night and turn it back on again in the morning. The courtyard was blissfully quiet this morning, without the waterfall and the hordes of rambunctious children. But I'm glad that they turn the waterfall back on before most kids get up. Otherwise, dads would find it even easier to torment their kids like my dad did when I was five, when he had me convinced that they turn Niagara Falls off each night.

In my travels among the various conference sessions, I noticed a lot of interest in the three PHP talks that took place today. In the morning session, Nathan Wallace gave a talk entitled PHP: Hacker's Paradise. This talk was well attended and Nathan had quite a crowd around him after the talk, with people asking all sorts of technical questions about how to do various things with PHP. The other two talks, on using PHP with SQL backends and sessions and authentication, also seemed popular, despite the fact that they overlapped with talks on Apache 2.0 and the future of Apache beyond 2.0.

In another morning session, Mark Cox and Geoff Thorpe gave an interesting presentation on Apache E-Commerce Solutions. The buzzword-compatible title was a bit misleading, as the talk focussed primarily on Apache and SSL. Mark and Geoff talked a lot about the performance implications of using SSL, both in a single-server setup and with multiple servers that support a high-volume site. Their conclusion is that SSL session caching needs to be handled as a separate service, accessible to all of the web servers in a server farm, rather than being localized to each individual server.

In the final keynote of the conference, Patricia Sueltz, Sun Microsystem's President of Software Products and Platform, talked about three bets that Sun made in 1995: Internet, Network Services, and Bandwidth. They are making three new bets in 2000: Massive Scale, Network Stack, and Always On, Always Connected. Sueltz also talked about Sun's interaction with the open source community--how they are listening, learning, and responding. She also talked about her belief that a technology goes through four phases in its steward lifecycle: a nurturing phase, a community involvement phase, a standards bodies phase, and finally a public domain phase.

In the first afternoon session, Manoj Kasichainula gave a talk on the new features in Apache 2.0, including the new multiple-processing modules (MPMs). MPMs are modules that determine how requests are mapped to threads or processes, so that Apache can support different ways of using processes and threads, based on the underlying operating system and other factors. For example, when Apache is running on a Linux system, it is better to have multiple processes each running multiple threads that service requests. But on Windows, which doesn't handle multiple processes very well, the solution is one process with multiple threads. Most users don't have to worry about MPMs, as each instance of Apache uses a single MPM that is set at compile-time. The overall impetus for Apache 2.0 is improved scalability.

In the next session, a panel of Apache members held an interactive discussion about the future of Apache beyond 2.0. The panel included Ryan Bloom, Bill Stoddard, Greg Stein, Allan Edwards, Ken Coar, and Manoj Kasichainula. Each panelist talked some about what functionality he was interested in adding beyond Apache 2.0 and then the audience was given the opportunity to add their requests. The big issues seemed to be layered I/O and scalability.

Now that the conference is over, I'm headed back home to Colorado. It has been warm and sunny here in Orlando, in fact too warm for my tastes. But in less than 24 hours, I plan to be up in the mountains skiing, which is much more to my liking.

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