Why support PHP, PERL, MySQL, etc on shared Windows Hosting?

Many Windows hosts today are proudly stating “we only support Microsoft technologies on Microsoft hosting” and they follow it up with such statements as “why support something that doesn’t have commercial support behind it? when there’s a problem who do you go to?” or “We don’t support these other scripting engines because they steal server resources and compromise server security”.

Not too long ago I made a post about running secure windows hosting, in that post I stated that the only way to truly run secure shared hosting is in a private sandbox using private users, this holds true for any shared hosting platform and not just windows. If proper permissions and process isolation are not put in place security and stability are at risk.  What I didn’t really get into was what motivated my to create that post, it’s these misleading statements listed above that really piss me off so I cry, no, I scream “BULLSH*T!” (the word may offend some but these misleading, misguided statements offend me as much as that word offends you!).  So the consuming looking for ASP or ASP.net hosting thinks “hey this is great! my site is never going to go down because my new host only supports ASP and ASP.net and they are all supported by the great and noble Microsoft.  Let’s look at what they are really doing:

  1. They are giving you a false sense of security. You assume since they are strictly Microsoft everything is commercially supported and no problems are going to happen.

    So what about joesdiscountgardentools.com that runs an ASP e-commerce store that uses an Access database engine oh and the whole thing was written by his little nephew while he was learning computer programming in grade school? Do you really think you’re server is going to be all that more stable just because it’s running only MS based apps/programs? Absolutely not! Anyone can write crap code and upload it to a $10/month or even a $400/month hosting account and the moment it starts causing problems it’s going to affect everyone.

    (but earlier Jess you said you could setup the server to minimize the affects this guy’s site has on mine? yes at AppliedI.net we do, but it’s still a shared server and it could still affect you. We minimize this as far as we can but unless you’re on a private or dedicated server no one is going to be able to rule it out completely).

  2. They’re limiting your choices and impeding your site’s growth. 

    As an electrical engineer I learned how to program in 14 different programming and scripting languages on DOS, Windows, SunOS, Solaris, VAX, Linux, Intel, IBM, Motorola and AT&T microcontrollers/microprocessors, etc. I didn’t learn this because I wanted to brag (well partially I did) but I did this because I firmly believe in having the best tool to get the job done. I consider, C, Fortran, Unix Shell, Basic, etc all tools in my tool box, must like a carpenter has different hammers, screwdrivers, chisels, etc.  The final analogy could be “sure you can drive a nail into a 2×4 with the back end of a crescent wrench but wouldn’t having a hammer be that much faster and more efficient? Who do you think will build the house fastest? The guy building the house with just a crescent wrench or the guy building the house with a full toolbox of tools?  In Business (be it offline or online) the first guy to come along offering a complete solution and establish himself as such is generally going to be the guy to beat.  PERL was around long before ASP, PHP long before ASP.net.  I’m not going to argue which is better or why but I’m simply going to say if you head over to a script repository like www.hotscripts.com and do a search for a new application for your site (be it a forum, a live chat, a survey tool) you’re going to find a plethora of them and the most mature, well written and feature-rich app may not necessarily be built in ASP or ASP.net. Ofcourse you could always have one built to meet your needs but then how long is that going to take? I bet your competitor that supports PHP is going to have his up allot faster than your developer will have yours completed!! (cheaper too!)

  3. They are attempting to show a level of expertise in ASP & ASP.net and hiding the fact that they are probably unfamiliar with how to administer a windows hosting solution such that they can support PHP, PERL, etc. 

    My recommendation is use what you’re familiar with and don’t sacrifice your site’s performance or growth for someone else’s ego.

  4. They’re forcing you to build your application around their hosting instead of building their hosting to support your application.  A well rounded, smartly built hosting infrastructure should not only be stable and secure but functional.

    At AppliedI.net our windows hosting plans were designed from day one to support PERL on Windows and once PHP was mature they were extended to support PHP. ASP & ASP.net performance are not sacrificed either and although we support PHP Windows hosting and PERL windows hosting on the same plans as our ASP & ASP.net hosting we do it such that all platforms are secure and powerful.

  5. They’re lying to you.  When running PHP & PERL in the same worker process / app pool as your isolated site. Whether you use ASP, ASP.net, PHP or PERL they are all going to run in the same space and if they crash, they are going to take out just your website and not the whole server. They simply don’t know how to ( or unfamiliar with why you would ) isolate application pools.  They didn’t mention Microsoft has worked with ActiveState to get PERL optimized on Windows or with the PHP developers to improve performance and stability of PHP on Windows did they? Truth is they have and these are very powerful scripting languages on Windows.

When it’s all said and done you need to decide if you want to use the best tool for the job or just the tools someone tells you to use. My recommendation is become educated on these matters, look into why someone says this does or doesn’t work and decide for yourself. 

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