Retooling your Web site

Here's what you need to know when it comes to managing both your internal and external sites and keeping track of their reliability


You Can't Detect What You Can't See: Illuminating the Entire Kill Chain

On-Demand Webinar

Posted December 1, 1999

David Strom

David Strom

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No matter how you calculate "Web years" in 1999, the World Wide Web has matured with a variety of new technologies, tools, and techniques. Gone are the simple days of the mid-1990s when Webmasters could be concerned with one or two programs such as a Web server and scripting and authoring tools.

Today's Web is more complex, and its underlying infrastructure is more involved. Web software comes with more options and choices. Sites now are all about retaining visitors with value-added services and improving network latency and site reliability. This is a very different situation from the good old days of the Web (say 1995), where most Webmasters and site operators were concerned about putting together good-looking HTML pages or offering ways to capture a visitor's attention with animated graphics and interesting backgrounds.

The recent sophistication of the Web is both a blessing and a curse. New technologies such as caching, load balancing, and network monitoring and management will take some time and effort to figure out. It also will take time to understand what works best for your particular situation. For example, if you are running a site with multiple Web servers located in different locations, your management needs will be more challenging than if your data center is under one roof.

Site monitoring

The world of Web server management takes in a fairly wide swatch of technologies. It also helps you--as a Webmaster or a CIO--accomplish several different tasks:

  • Ensuring that all aspects of your site are operating 24/7, or as close to continuous operations available to the Internet as you can afford.
  • Knowing what others, such as your competitors or allies, are saying about you, your products, and your corporation across the public Internet.
  • Ensuring that your site can be viewed by the widest possible collection of browsers and environments.
  • Ensuring that your site can deliver consistent performance, especially during peak-load periods.
In order to accomplish these tasks, you'll need several different tools and you'll need to examine the various components of your Web site carefully. First, your Web server and other associated servers such as database, directory, and e-mail servers, all need to be up and available to the Internet. This means monitoring the various services or programs that are running on these servers and making sure that none has crashed or terminated unexpectedly. This also means understanding your overall Web content and how this content depends on each of these services. For example, your Web storefront's catalog may depend on a database server to display current items and inventory. Or you may have a form that will e-mail Web site visitors a confirmation message that depends on e-mail services working properly, as well as on the program that processes the underlying scripting language that creates the form. You might need to be able to connect to your corporate directory to route an inquiry to the appropriate mailbox for follow-up. And your Web site may other tools and processes, all of which require their services to be operating, such as Allaire Corp.'s ColdFusion or database middleware tools.

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