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Why someone should choose PHP over ASP

Posted on 23 November 2002 by Demian Turner

Apologies if you’ve read this somewhere else 😉
“For that kind of money, you should expect robust enterprise-strength software, which just works all the time.” – Rasmus Lerndorf on investing USD 300,000 for a basic Microsoft Solution.

Q: Do you have any thoughts as to why someone should choose PHP over Microsoft’s Active Service Pages (ASP)?
A: This is a difficult question to answer without getting into philosophical issues. I will try to avoid those and just look at it from a practical perspective:

  • Windows 2000 Server: USD 3,999
  • Internet Security and Acceleration Server: USD 5,999 per CPU
  • SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition: USD 19,999 per CPU
  • MSDN Universal Subscription (w/ DevStudio): USD 2,799 per developer

List prices from

This can add up quickly. And you probably need to add some Internet connector licenses, maybe an Exchange server license if you are doing e-mail handling and perhaps the content management server, which is a whopping USD 42,999 per CPU.

Many will of course argue this point, but I can build you a similar setup using Linux, Apache+SSL, PHP, PostgreSQL and Squid. And there are a number of good open-source content management systems I can throw in as well. They don’t all come in shrink-wrapped boxes with slick documentation, but the one thing they certainly do is work.

Set up a nice load-balanced architecture using Squid as a reverse proxy on the front end to a couple of Web servers on the back end with a separate database server. Toss in some database replication for load balancing and robustness. So perhaps five machines with two CPUs in each. The software alone could cost you over USD 300,000 for that, compared to USD 0. In this economy, this is significant.

Then there is the fact that managing an IIS [Microsoft Internet Information Server] server has been a nightmare this year. One security issue after another.

This doesn’t mean that the alternatives don’t have security issues every now and then, but at least you are not paying someone USD 300,000 on top of having to keep up with frequent security patches. For that kind of money, you should expect robust enterprise-strength software, which just works all the time. I don’t mean to offend the Microsoft crowd out there, but that just hasn’t been the case up to now.

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