With the release of NetWare 6.5, Novell, Inc. provides a powerful new Apache management tool called the Apache Manager. It is a web-based utility that leverages Novell eDirectory to manage one or many Apache web servers running on NetWare or any other combination of operating systems to include Linux, Solaris, IBM-AIX or Windows. This paper explains the advantages associated with storing Apache’s configuration files in a hierarchy of directory objects. This concept provides the underpinnings for a superior methodology for managing a web farm environment.
There are a number of advantages to this approach. They include platform independence, a central point of management for all instances of Apache, and consolidation of common directives. Apache Manager consists of two separate pieces they include the Apache Manager web utility and the configuration daemon. These components are built on top of industry standards that are open and universally accepted. This allows them to fully interoperate insulated from the underlying demands of the operating system which in turn satisfies the needs of a cross platform world.
One of the truly powerful aspects of Apache Manager is its integration with Novell’s highly scalable and distributed directory service. The directory not only acts as the database where the configuration directives are stored, it also provides an environment that allows configuration objects to be shared and inherited. The basic concept is that when identical directives exist for multiple Apache servers, these directives can be stored in a single directory object rather than duplicated in multiple configuration files.
Apache Manager provides the web administrator with a powerful time saving tool that increases productivity as each directory object holds a common set of directives that may be inherited by lower level objects in the eDirectory tree. The “Apache Group” is the highest object in the tree. It contains a set of directives that are common across all instances of the Apache web server regardless of the platform it is running on. The end result is that Apache Manager is not only capable of managing a large number of Apache web servers, it will also manage different versions of Apache running on different platforms. The specific requirement is that the platform provides a supported JVM and the ability to connect to a directory service through the LDAP protocol.
The origins of the web began with an information project known as CERN, today this is where the world’s largest particle physics laboratory still operates. This project later developed into what is known as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). As web technologies evolved there emerged specific software, protocol sets and conventions to govern them. At the root of this digital ancestral tree are browsers and http servers. Today one of the dominant players in this Internet ecology is the Apache web server, the most widely deployed web server on the Net. According to the most recent surveys from Netcraft, Apache web servers represent 62.5 percent of the total web server deployments.
Until very recently, managing an Apache web server was a fairly primitive task, accomplished mainly through the editing of a text file known as the httpd.conf file. It is this file that contains the key configuration directives for an Apache web server. The Apache Manager helps to solve many of the problems that are associated with the current Apache administration methods and procedures. One of the most important is the ability to manage multiple Apache web servers as part of a centralized management system. Prior to this managing multiple instances of Apache was tedious and time consuming.
This paper will provide an overview of the Apache Manager and discuss the advantages of integrating the Apache configuration file with a highly scalable and distributed directory service. This paper will demonstrate that storing the Apache configuration as a hierarchy of directory objects can offer superior configuration management in a web farm environment.
The most commonly used method of managing the Apache web server is to manually edit the configuration file using a text editor. The Apache configuration file, called the httpd.conf file, is stored in the conf subdirectory under the Apache root directory. This simply constructed text file holds all of the directives necessary to successfully configuring a web server and any of its additional modules that may need to be loaded.