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Just came across a nice discussion of the shared hosting world – and how long it may last….The author may be aggressive by calling for the death of all shared hosting in the near-ish future, but we have been facing a unique shared hosting challenge since we started developing ISAPI filters for Microsoft IIS Web servers that relates to his pain points.
In the past year, Port80 has been working on .NET modules, ihttpmodules and ihttphandlers ports for various Port80 products. With ASP.NET on current IIS 4/5/6 Web server deployments, the .NET modules will be handy for deployment of Port80 Web solutions in shared hosting environments. One of the limitations of our current products, deployed as ISAPI filters, is that you have to install them with admin access, and most of the tools are installed at the global “Web Sites” level, above the individual sites/virtual servers in IIS. So, this is nearly impossible without special ISP help to get the filters installed from a practical business point-of-view, as hosters would in most cases rather not bother with one-off special components on one server for a shared hosting client, especially if that component could, even remotely, affect other clients’ sites on that box. And yes, like it or not, most hosts FEAR the ISAPI. They should learn to embrace and extend, no? Well, they won’t have to worry with Port80 Web solution options in the future, as there will be .NET modules to get 80-90% of the functionality in most current Port80 tools into a shared hosting context, so long as ASP.NET is working on the server.
The only real loss here is that these .NET modules will not see all Web requests that come into an ASP.NET site on IIS 4/5/6 – they will only be able to operate on file types mapped through the ASP.NET interpreter. That can be a performance hit when you consider Port80 tool ports like compression and cache control, but isn’t life about such trade-offs? : )
Microsoft is aware of this limitation, and the IIS 7/Longhorn Web server will take the .NET modules to a new level, replacing ISAPI with ihttpmodules and ihttphandlers, that can be deployed by site easily and are modular, supposedly “safer” additions to the Web server (ISAPI is safe if you know what you are coding, and spend some QT in this Microsoft API backwater). First, of course, Longhorn server will ship (2008-ish), before these tools are in wide use outside of the test lab, but it is coming — and Port80 Softwarewill offer most of its current tools and a few new surprises for IIS 7.
More to come on .NET and IIS 7, stay tuned to this Bat Channel…