by May 1, 1999 0 comments

From a small add-on to Win NT 4 server, IIS has grown into
a major Internet server suite over the past couple of years. IIS 3 revolutionized Web
scripting with the introduction of ASP (active server pages) for creating dyna-mic Web
pages. IIS 4 further enhanced this and brought in small, but highly efficient SMTP and
NNTP servers in the suite.

IIS 5 is set to be a part of the Windows 2000 server family
(formerly called NT 5). Beta 2 of Windows 2000 contains the beta of the new suite. The
suite comprises HTTP, FTP, SMTP, and NNTP servers, just like in IIS 4. Its interface is
exac-tly the same as IIS 4’s with Microsoft Man-agement Con-sole (MMC) being used as
the adminis-tration interface. However, a signi-ficant number of new wizards have been
added to ease the setup or configuration of sites.

A Permission wizard lets you define the security attributes
for each Website from a template. For example, you could designate a particular site as
"publicly accessible" so that anyone can access it using a browser. Or you could
set another one as "private and secure" for making sure only designated people
can reach it. The wizard then automatically sets permissions at file, folder, and Website
levels, according to your choice. You can even add more security by enforcing SSL (secure
socket layer) levels. The new Certificate wizard helps you install and configure digital
certificates for the site.

Another feature involves the HTTP 1.1 standard’s HTTP
compression algorithm. This allows the Web server to store and send Web pages in
compressed form, thus saving online time. The client browser is responsible for
decompressing the files. Currently, the only browser to support HTTP 1.1 de-compression is
IE 5. Compression can be set for both static and dynamic Web pages (ASP). Note that
enabling compression for dynamic Web pages may cause a performance hit on the Web server.

A very significant change in IIS 5 is ASP scripting. On a
Website, the static pages are normally kept as HTML files and not as ASP, since processing
ASP uses the Web server’s resources. This mixture of ASP and HTML pages makes the
Website more difficult to manage. With IIS 5, this problem has been solved. It keeps all
your pages as ASP, regardless of whether some contain scripts or not. When an HTTP request
comes, IIS 5 quickly skips through each page to see whether the page has any script
blocks. If it has any, the page is passed to the ASP parser, else it just streams it back
to the client, like in simple HTML page requests. There’s a very minor performance
lag when requesting ASP pages as compared to HTML files, but the hassle-free Web
maintenance is worth it, if you have a large site.

Other significant improvements are in the ASP server
objects. A new method called Server.Transfer lets you redirect the client to a different
page without needing the client browser to resend the request. The older method was
Response.Redirect, which caused the client browser to resend the request. Using the
Transfer method means the round trip to and from the client is totally eliminated, giving
a significant speed boost to your site.

Its other new or improved features include: an FTP resuming
facility (which lets GetRight work with IIS ser-vers at last), impro-ved
ser-vices, like the US Govern-ment recognized Fortezza token support, Kerberos security,
and more. We’ll cover these in the final release of the product.

IIS 5 is a significant upgrade to have, even if it’s
just for the enhanced ASP features. The others make it even more compelling. Can’t
wait to see what the final release will have to offer.

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