Microsoft .Net comes to Apache for a price

Covalent Technologies Inc., which sells software that sits on top of the popular free Apache Web server, announced Wednesday a new version of its product that allows developers to use Microsoft Corp.'s .Net programming tools to write Web applications that run on Apache.

The company released its Enterprise Ready Server, which is based on version 2.0 of Apache, and comes with new support for Microsoft's ASP.Net (Active Server Pages) development platform. Covalent, in San Francisco, made the announcement here at the O'Reilly Open Source Conference.

Previously, ASP.Net applications could only run on Microsoft's Internet Information Server (IIS), a competitor to Apache. As a result Covalent said that many major Apache users, such as Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. and Bear Stearns & Co., have used both IIS and Apache to accommodate various Web applications designed inside their organizations.

"They can now consolidate their applications on a single platform," said Jim Zemlin, vice president of marketing at Covalent.

Developers will also be able to write applications for Apache 2.0 using Microsoft's Visual Studio .Net development tools, he said.

Apache is the most widely used Web server on the Internet, according to a survey from Netcraft Ltd., which tracks such data. Many users choose the technology over IIS due to its better track record with reliability and security, according to Stacey Quandt, an analyst with Giga Information Group Inc.

With help from Microsoft in Redmond, Washington, Covalent said it was able to develop a module for its Enterprise Ready Server that would allow ASP.Net applications run on Apache 2.0. However, organizations that use the freely-available Web server won't be able to run ASP.Net applications unless they purchase Covalent's software. Zemlin said that the company doesn't plan to release an open source version of its .Net module.

Brian Behlendorf, president of the Apache Software Foundation and one of the original authors of the technology, said Wednesday that Covalent's work adding support for ASP.net applications bodes well for the future of Apache, even if the software is not free to Apache users. He noted that Covalent employs a number of developers that contribute to the Apache open source project.

"It's a business model we support," Behlendorf said. "We want to encourage companies to stay in business so they can contribute to Apache."

The added support for Apache comes one day after Microsoft announced that it would extend its .Net platform to better work with database software from Oracle Corp. "This is just another example of how Microsoft is working with other application vendors to make .Net interoperable with other platforms," Zemlin said.

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