The Data

It can difficult to know how to respond when the evidence fails to support one’s beliefs. What then, should one make of the recent figures from Netcraft’s March 2008 Web Server Survey which show that figures for usage of the Apache Web server software peaked in 2005 and the decline since then has been matched with a corresponding rise in use of Microsoft’s Web server software?

Web server usage figures

Using The Data To Unearth Preconceived Ideas

I used this image, incidentally, in an online presentation yesterday, but without the companies’ names being displayed. In response to my question “Which company do you think seems to be in decline?” the answers suggested included Facebook, Twitter and Blackboard – all companies which various participants in the conference had negative views on.


In professions such as politics or in the commercial sector we might expect inconvenient data to be conveniently ignored (says me cynically!). In higher education, however, we pride ourselves on developing theories to fit the facts and not finding facts to fit our beliefs (says me in a rather arrogant fashion!). Or do we? I can’t help but feel that in IT we have a whole series of beliefs and find it difficult to know how to respond when the evidence challenges such beliefs. Indeed I’ve commented on this previously: we haven’t embraced the open source FireFox browser to the extent which had been expected when the browser was released; conformance with the WAI accessibility guidelines doesn’t necessarily bring about universal accessibility and open standards sometimes don’t work. The IT profession needs, in my opinion, to be more sceptical about its beliefs and to gather evidence to demonstrate, or refute, such beliefs.

Returning To The Data

But what, I wonder, can we make of the growth in Microsoft’s Web server software? And, perhaps more intriguingly, what should we make of Google’s entry into the chart in July 2007?