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The architecture of your web application is like digging the foundations of your house. The weaker they are; the greater the chance that anything you build on top will fall down.

The more you build on weak foundations, the greater the chance of catastrophic collapse.

The war for dominance of the web is bloody and vicious. However, clear winners are emerging from the smoke of the battlefield. The key is seeing the truth through the confusion.

The problem with setting up web architecture is that if you talk to two different developers the chances are, you'll get two different answers.

There are staunch advocates of Microsoft technologies (particularly the new .Net initiative; and there are equally staunch advocates ofSun's J2EE technologies.

Somewhere in-between there are fans of other technologies such as PHP and Cold Fusion.

Then there is the question of hardware and databases. Microsoft IIS? Apache against Unix? Linux or even Netscape servers? Oracle, Sequel 2000, Sybase? So it goes on...

The truth is, the correct technology is the one that fits your needs now and in the future.

The chances are you already have some sort of IT infrastructure. You may well be running Microsoft IIS or your ISP only runs Apache against Unix.

Examining your current infrastructure will give you a good indication as to which web technology is the best fit for you.

The next question is how 'mission critical' is my web application?

For instance, if you were developing an online shares dealing portal, then security and stability would be major considerations.

In this case, you may well be somewhat concerned about relying on Microsoft technologies. Recent virus scares have highlighted security holes in some of Microsoft's products.

Therefore, Java and Java Server Pages may be better suited to your needs. Multi platform support may also be an issue with Microsoft technologies.

On the other hand, your web application may be less mission critical, but need to be developed quickly. You may also be looking to rapidly expand the web application in the near future.

In this case, Microsoft technologies might better suit your needs. This is particularly true if you are already using IIS and development environments such as Visual Studio.

Then again, you may not have much in-house development experience. Perhaps you want your graphics designers to also do the programming.

In this case, Cold Fusion or even PHP may fit your needs.

There is no hard or fast rule which dictates which web technology or web architecture best fits your requirement. It is necessary to take a step back, examine your current and future needs. Then examine your current infrastructure. Only after you've done this can you hope to make a balanced decision.

Tip: try and make your decision based on the facts and relative merits, rather than someone's biased opinion.

 

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