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Web Watch: Update of a Survey of the Numbers of UK University Web Servers

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Brian Kelly updates a survey of the numbers of UK university Web servers.

How many Web servers are there in use within the UK higher education community? What is the profile of server usage within the community - do most institutions take a distributed approach, running many servers, or is a centralised approach more popular? A WebWatch survey was published in June 2000 [1] which aimed to provide answers to these questions. The survey has been repeated recently in order to see if there has been any significant changes.

Using Netcraft's Web-Based Service

Netcraft [2] is a company based in Bath which carries out surveys of Web server software. The Netcraft survey is very comprehensive, with over 36 million sites having been polled. Netcraft publish monthly reports on their surveys [3].

Netcraft also provide an interface which enables details of the Web server used at a site to be obtained. The service also provides a search facility which can be used to list the Web servers used within a domain (or part of a domain). This facility can be used to, for example, list the Web servers which have .microsoft in the domain name.

The Netcraft interface is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Netcraft interface
Figure 1: Netcraft interface

This service has been used to analyse Web servers used in UK Universities. The results are provided in Appendix 1 of this article.

Why Carry This Survey?

The aim of the initial survey was to profile the server usage within the UK HE community. Knowledge of the server usage within the community has a number of possible benefits: for example, knowledge of server profiles will help developers of robot software.

The survey has been repeated in order to detect interesting trends: are we, for example, seeing a growth in the numbers of servers due to use of personal Web servers and desktop computers? Or are we seeing a reduction in the numbers, due to institutions taking a more centralised approach to use of Web servers?

Caveats

A number of caveats to this survey should be noted:

  • Web servers which are not publicly available, such as Intranets, will not be reported.
  • Duplicate names for Web servers may be included in the reports.
  • The report does not differentiate between real and virtual servers.
  • The survey is reliant on the quality of the data obtained from Netcraft.

Summary of Findings

The total number of Web servers found on 1 May 2000 was 3,986. Excluding institutions for which Netcraft reported 0 Web servers, an average of 19.4 servers per institution was found. When the survey was repeated on 5 June 2000 the total number of Web servers had reduced to 3,773, with an average of 24.2 servers per institution.

For the most recent survey the total number of Web servers had increased to 4,571, with an average of 28.6 servers per institution.

A histogram of the results is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Histogram of Results
Figure 2: Histogram of Results

As can be seen, most institutions have a small number of publicly-accessible Web servers, with 73 institutions running between 1 and 9 servers (79 in May 2000) and only 11 running more than 100 (9 in May 2000).

Discussion

There has not been a major change in the profile in the numbers of Web servers used across the community. We have seen a increase, small in many cases, although there have been a number of substantial jumps (e.g. Stirling with a growth from 26 to 87 and Strathclyde from 46 to 110).

After the previous survey was published there was speculation that we would shortly be seeing a substantial jump, as broadband networks became available, which would allow home computers to be "always on", allowing users to run Web servers from home. There was an exception that this change, which would be accompanied by enhanced personal Web server tools, would influence the profile of server usage within institutions (with the accompanying challenges of management, security, etc.) However this change has not happened, and we are still awaiting the widespread deployment of broadband networks.

We also do not appear to be seeing significant changes in institutions moving from a small number of centrally managed servers to a distributed environment or, alternatively, from a distributed environment to a centrally managed one.

References

  1. A Survey Of Numbers of UK University Web Servers, Ariadne issue 24, June 2000
    http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue24/web-watch/
  2. Netcraft,
    http://www.netcraft.com/
  3. Web Server Survey, Netcraft
    http://www.netcraft.com/survey/

Appendix 1: Survey Results

The Netcraft service was used to count the number of web servers used by UK Universities. The survey was initially carried out on 1 May 2000 and repeated on 5 June 2000. The data given below was obtained on 11 March 2002.

The following table contains details of the survey. Column 1 gives the name of the institution and a link to the institutional Web server. Column 2 gives the number of Web servers found within the university's domain.

Note the following limitations in the survey:

Domain Name Variants
The survey will not detect unusual domain names variants used within an institution: e.g. a link from www.lse-maths.ac.uk will be included in the numbers of servers in the domain lse.ac.uk.
Short and Link Domain Names
Institutions which make use of a long and short form of their domain name (e.g. www.bham.ac.uk and www.birmingham.ac.uk) will have misleading results.
IP Numbers
Servers which use an IP number rather than a domain name will not be included.
Netcraft Limitations
The database used by the Netcraft service may be incomplete.

Table 1: Numbers of Web Servers In UK HEIs
Institution No. of Servers
1 May 2000
No. of Servers
5 June 2000
No. of Servers
12 March 2002
Current No. of Servers
Aberdeen 26 24 23 Try it
Abertay 7 6 17 Try it
Aberystwyth 8 9 15 Try it
Anglia Polytechnic University 43 41 35 Try it
Aston 22 18 35 Try it
Bangor 19 20 35 Try it
Bath Spa 1 1 2 Try it
Bath 12 9 16 Try it
Belfast, The Queen's University of 28 33 50 Try it
Birkbeck 13 12 10 Try it
Birmingham
NOTE: Used <www.bham.ac.uk> and not <www.birmingham.ac.uk>
66 64 122 Try it
Bolton Institute of Higher Education 21 17 20 Try it
Bournemouth University 15 15 22 Try it
Bradford 47 47 39 Try it
Bretton College 1 1 1 Try it
Brighton 33 38 20 Try it
Bristol 54 48 40 Try it
Brunel 13 8 8 Try it
Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College 1 1 1 Try it
Cambridge 338 318 369 Try it
Canterbury Christ Church 1 1 1 Try it
Cardiff
NOTE Used <www.cardiff.ac.uk> and not <www.cf.ac.uk> (which has 9 sites)
2 1 2 Try it
Cardiff, University of Wales Institute (UWIC) 5 5 5 Try it
Central England, University of (UCE) 13 12 20 Try it
Central Lancashire 3 2 4 Try it
Central School of Speech and Drama 1 1 1 Try it
Cheltenham and Gloucester College of HE 3 3 5 Try it
Chester College
Used .chester to avoid confusion with Manchester and Chichester
4 4 2 Try it
Chichester College 2 2 2 Try it
City 37 32 29 Try it
College of Guidance Studies 1 0 1 Try it
Coventry Not known 27 25 Try it
Cranfield 21 21 20 Try it
Dartington College of Arts 1 1 1 Try it
De Montfort (DMU) 61 57 61 Try it
Derby 3 3 8 Try it
Dundee 32 28 35 Try it
Durham 2 2 1 Try it
East Anglia, University of (UEA) 20 20 28 Try it
East London 10 9 12 Try it
Edge Hill 5 5 5 Try it
Edinburgh
Used .ed.ac.uk to differentiate from Bized and RCSED
265 259 243 Try it
Essex 31 30 25 Try it
Exeter
Used .ex.ac.uk to differentiate from essex
1 12 14 Try it
Falmouth 1 1 2 Try it
Glamorgan 14 13 8 Try it
Glasgow Caledonian University 22 22 29 Try it
Glasgow School of Art 2 2 3 Try it
Glasgow 182 174 186 Try it
Goldsmiths College
NOTE <www.goldsmiths.ac.uk> and not <www.gold.ac.uk> (which has 17 sites)
5 4 3 Try it
Greenwich 15 13 21 Try it
Harper Adams 1 1 1 Try it
Heriot-Watt 35 33 33 Try it
Hertfordshire 25 23 15 Try it
Huddersfield 3 2 8 Try it
Hull 43 42 42 Try it
Imperial
Used .ic.ac.uk and not ic.ac.uk to avoid confusion with uwic.ac.uk in March 2002 survey
155 146 189 Try it
Institute of Education 4 5 5 Try it
Keele 10 10 11 Try it
Kent 15 15 21 Try it
Kent Institute of Art and Design 2 1 1 Try it
King Alfred's College, Winchester 5 4 4 Try it
King's College London (KCL) 33 32 35 Try it
Kingston 3 3 5 Try it
Lampeter 2 2 3 Try it
Lancaster
Note initially used lancaster.ac.uk and not .lancs.ac.uk
3 2 1
40
Try it (Lancaster)
Try it (Lancs)
Leeds 106 101 132 Try it
Leeds Metropolitan University (LMU) 3 2 5 Try it
Leicester
Used .le.ac.uk to differentiate from Newcastle, Bournville, Skelmersdale, Isle and Keele
16 16 18 Try it
Lincolnshire and Humberside 2 1 1 Try it
Liverpool 22 23 39 Try it
Liverpool John Moore 17 15 18 Try it
Liverpool Hope 1 1 1 Try it
London Business School 7 5 1 Try it
London Guildhall 1 1 3 Try it
London Institute 8 6 8 Try it
University of London (Institutes) 6 6 7 Try it
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) 19 16 23 Try it
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine 3 3 3 Try it
Loughborough
Note <www.lboro.ac.uk> and not <www.lut.ac.uk>
24 22 48 Try it
Luton 6 8 11 Try it
Manchester Institute of Science & Technology (UMIST) 66 59 66 Try it
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) 43 41 35 Try it
Manchester 152 142 159 Try it
Manchester Business School 1 1 1 Try it
Medicine, University of Wales College of 2 2 4 Try it
Middlesex 46 38 46 Try it
Napier 33 32 29 Try it
Newcastle 49 41 65 Try it
Newman 3 3 2 Try it
Newport 5 5 5 Try it
North-East Wales Institute of Higher Education (NEWI) 2 2 6 Try it
North London (UNL) 8 8 10 Try it
North Riding College Higher Education Corporation 1 1 1 Try it
Northampton, University College 1 1 1 Try it
Northern College of Education 10 10 13 Try it
Northern School of Contemporary Dance 1 1 1 Try it
University of Northumbria at Newcastle (UNN) 13 14 19 Try it
Norwich School of Art and Design 1 1 1 Try it
Nottingham Trent 28 22 37 Try it
Nottingham 28 27 43 Try it
Oxford 247 235 333 Try it
Oxford Brookes 0 0 4 Try it
Paisley 15 2 15 Try it
Plymouth 31 28 14 Try it
Portsmouth
Used .port.ac.uk to differentiate from Newport
32 31 34 Try it
Queen Margaret University College 1 1 2 Try it
Queen Mary and Westfield College 69 62 7 Try it
Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication 1 1 1 Try it
Reading 89 89 78 Try it
Ripon and York St John, College of 2 2 1 Try it
Robert Gordon University 6 4 6 Try it
Roehampton 3 2 3 Try it
Rose Bruford College 1 1 1 Try it
Royal Academy of Music 1 1 1 Try it
Royal College of Art 16 13 16 Try it
Royal College of Music 1 1 3 Try it
Royal Holloway 42 41 30 Try it
Royal Northern College of Music 4 4 3 Try it
Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama 2 2 0 Try it
Royal Veterinary College 1 1 1 Try it
St Andrews 37 38 52 Try it
St George's Hospital Medical School 8 5 14 Try it
St Mark and St John, College of 3 3 2 Try it
St Mary's College 1 1 1 Try it
Salford 31 31 35 Try it
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) 1 1 3 Try it
Scottish Agricultural College 3 3 4 Try it
Sheffield Hallam University 15 16 11 Try it
Sheffield 28 25 32 Try it
South Bank University 19 18 39 Try it
Southampton 160 162 185 Try it
Southampton Institute 3 2 4 Try it
Staffordshire 5 5 11 Try it
Stirling 30 26 87 ** Try it
Strathclyde 49 46 110 ** Try it
Sunderland 22 19 32 Try it
Surrey Institute of Art and Design 2 3 3 Try it
Surrey 23 21 30 Try it
Sussex 15 16 16 Try it
Swansea Institute of Higher Education 1 1 1 Try it
Swansea 30 26 32 Try it
Teeside 13 13 10 Try it
Thames Valley 15 15 18 Try it
Trinity and All Saints 1 1 1 Try it
Trinity College of Music 1 1 1 Try it
Trinity College, Carmarthen 1 1 2 Try it
Ulster 25 3 29 Try it
University College London 117 110 117 Try it
Warwick 41 40 55 Try it
Welsh College of Music and Drama 1 1 1 Try it
West of England, University of (UWE) 14 11 21 Try it
Westhill College 1 1 1 Try it
Westminster 7 7 7 Try it
Wolverhampton 67 63 65 Try it
Worcester, University College 0 0 1 Try it
Writtle College 1 1 1 Try it
Wye College 0 0 1 Try it
York 26 22 36 Try it
Total 3,985 3,773 4,878  
Note
One institution was reported as having no Web servers (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama). This is believed to be due to an error in the data collection.
The data for the initial survey of Coventry University was lost.
The initial surveys of Lancaster Universities used the domain name .lancaster.ac.uk. This survey also provides findings for .lancs.ac.uk.

Table 2 gives a summary of the top 5 web sites with the largest number of web servers as reported by Netcraft.

Table 2: Top 5 UK HEI Web Sites With The Most Number of Web Servers
Institution No. of Web Servers (1 May 2000) No. of Web Servers (5 June 2000) No. of Web Servers (12 March 2002) Current Value
Cambridge 338 318 369 Try it
Oxford 247 235 333 Try it
Edinburgh 248 244 243 Try it
Imperial 155 149 189 Try it
Glasgow 182 174 186 Try it

Author Details

Picture of Brian Kelly Brian Kelly
UK Web Focus
UKOLN
University of Bath
Bath
BA2 7AY

Email: b.kelly@ukoln.ac.uk

Brian Kelly is UK Web Focus. He works for UKOLN, which is based at the University of Bath

 

Date published: 
11 April 2002

This article has been published under copyright; please see our access terms and copyright guidance regarding use of content from this article. See also our explanations of how to cite Ariadne articles for examples of bibliographic format.

How to cite this article

Brian Kelly. "Web Watch: Update of a Survey of the Numbers of UK University Web Servers". April 2002, Ariadne Issue 31 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue31/web-watch/


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