Web Server Upgrade for www.cityu.edu.hk: Migration from Apache to IIS

by Helium Hung
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To further enhance the website hosting environment of the university, an upgrade of the central web server (www.cityu.edu.hk) had been completed on 16th Oct 2013.
 
The central web server (www.cityu.edu.hk) was previously served by Sun Solaris and Apache. After the websites were migrated to a new server cluster environment, the central web server is now served by Microsoft Windows and Internet Information Services (IIS). 
 
The Web Server Upgrade activity had been phased into two stages as described below.
 
Stage One (25 Sept 2013 – 16 Oct 2013)
 
In stage one, all websites on the Oracle Solaris platform were synchronized to the new IIS platform. Emails were sent to department/web administrators to invite them to test their own sites on the new platform. In order to provide assistance in testing the migrated websites, two rounds of CSC Small Talks had been organized for web administrators/developers to practice the website testing and ask any questions that they may have.
 
Guidelines for testing the website on the new www.cityu.edu.hk were also prepared and posted on the web at http://www6.cityu.edu.hk/csc/www-upgrade/testing-new-www.htm
 
Stage Two (under planning)
 
Another existing web server (www6.cityu.edu.hk) is also served by Microsoft Windows and IIS. There will be plans to merge both web servers (www.cityu.edu.hk and www6.cityu.edu.hk) when the central web server has proved to be stable after running for a certain period.
 
What is new/improved after the upgrade activity?
 
Enhanced Server Protection
 
IIS maximizes web server security by default with minimal web server footprint and automatic application isolation. To further reduce security risks, it offers greater application isolation by giving each worker process a completely unique identity and sandboxed configuration. URL authorization and request filtering rules allow administrators fine-grained control over access of site content and safeguard the web server from malicious requests and unauthorized access.
 
Reliability
 
IIS increases web application reliability and scalability through rule-based routing and load balancing of HTTP server requests. Administrators can optimize resource utilization for applications and reduce management costs for shared hosting environments. In addition, it also reduces the probability of application failure.
 
Rich Diagnostic Tools
 
IIS simplifies troubleshooting by providing detailed and actionable error messages to server administrators. The administrators can use Failed Request Tracing to capture the valuable tracing information when errors occur, and the developers can diagnose their application execution with ASP.NET trace events.
 
Quick and Easy Configuration and Management
 
IIS makes it simple to centrally deploy and manage configuration and content across web servers. The Microsoft Web Deployment Tool provides support for synchronizing configuration and content, including assemblies, SQL databases and SSL certificates.