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RealTime IT News

Vatican.va Meets Global Demand

The eyes of the world have been on the Web site of the world's smallest nation this week, placing the site's servers under heavy demand.

Friday's papal funeral is being seen around the globe and is considered by many to be an "event for the ages." It is also putting unprecedented global demand on the Vatican Web site, which is carrying the proceedings live via a Web cast.

Since last week, when Pope John Paul II went into "septic shock and cardio-circulatory collapse" before passing away Saturday, Web site tracking firm Netcraft reported that the Vatican's Web servers were experiencing difficulty in handling the deluge of site visitors.

According to Netcraft's query of the site's servers, HP's UNIX system Tru-64 was the operating system, with Apache 1.3.27 as the actual Web server application being used. The day the pope died, the site's Web server reported it was running on Sun Solaris 9 with Apache 1.3.31.

Internetnews.com queried Stefano Pasquini at the Internet Office of the Holy See in Vatican City but did not receive a response by press time as to why the main Web server was changed.

Traffic at Vatican.va, as evidenced by Netcraft's statistics, appears to have been particularly heavy at the beginning of the week with a leveling off as the week progressed, though there have been some intermittent traffic spikes.

Vatican.va contains direct links to the Vatican's media network, including Vatican TV, which is currently webcasting proceedings from inside St. Peter's Basilica in both RealPlayer and Windows Media Formats.

As of April 7, Vatican.va was the 25th most requested Web site in the world, sandwiched between Amazon.com at No. 24 eBay.com at No. 26.

According to Amazon.com's Alexa Web ranking service, the Vatican Web site over the past three months has had a page ranking of 5,814. As of April 7 that rank had improved to 483, with a one-week average of 318.

In terms of "reach," which Alexa defines as a measure of the number of users out of one million Internet users that visit a given site, Vatican.va as of April 7th sits at 1,250.

Its one week average is 2,135, while over the last three months its average was only 298. (By comparison, Yahoo's average on April 7th was 310,500, with a one week average of 310,400 and three month average of 307,300.)

The papal funeral is expected to be available early Friday morning (3:30 AM EDT) on the vatican.va webcast.