Apache and IIS' Web server rival NGINX is growing fast

Apache and IIS' Web server rival NGINX is growing fast

Summary: When it comes to Web servers, the big two are Apache and Internet Information Server, but their faster, more nimble rival, NGINX is catching up with them.

SHARE:
11

It used to be easy for Web server administrators. If you ran a Windows shop, you used Internet Information Server (IIS), if you didn't, you used Apache. Now, though, you have more Web server choices and one of the leading alternatives, the open-source NGINX Web server, is gaining fast.

According to Netcraft, the leading Web server analytics company, NGINX, with its over 40-million Web domains and 8.5% of all Web domains, is catching up with the big two. Indeed Netcraft analysts believe that "If current trends continue NGINX will soon overtake Microsoft to have the second largest number of active sites."

NGINX has moved into this position because it's very, very fast. The company claims that NGINX can deliver 10 times the performance on the same hardware. I don't know about that, but I do know on my own servers that NGINX is very fast and uses far less resources than Apache or IIS. It does this by being event-based. That means it doesn't spawn new processes or threads for each Web page request. The end result is that even as the load increases, memory use remains predictable.

NGINX can also be used to improve performance because it can be used as a reverse proxy. In this mode, NGINX looks like just another Web server to users. Behind the scenes, though the reverse proxy is used to load balance Web requests among several back-end servers, or to provide caching for a slower back-end server.

The net result is that NGINX provides very fast and stable Web services with minimal hardware. You don't have to take my word for it. Of the top 1,000 Web servers in the world, 22.4% use NGINX. These include such Web heavyweights as Facebook, Hulu, and WordPress.

Now, NGINX also has some cash to help it get even more clients. The company has just received $3 million in a fully subscribed Series A round from BV Capital and Runa Capital, and an entity affiliated with MSD Capital, Dell CEO Michael Dell's private investment firm. The funding will be used to support the company's plans for its new commercial arm, Nginx Inc., and its expansion into the U.S.

They're investing in it, because, as Thomas Gieselmann co-founder of BV Capital, said in a statement, "Several of the companies we invested in were able to solve significant scaling issues by switching their web platforms to NGINX. NGINX transparently and effectively enables the growth of the largest sites on the Internet today."

With this funding the NGINX teams plans on opening its new San Francisco headquarters by year's end and by the middle of 2012, the company will be offering what it calls "a commercial-grade connection processing and optimization software platform, which will enable advanced performance, traffic management, extended configuration and security features for hosting, cloud and enterprise server infrastructure. NGINX will also offer flexible options to upgrade existing web installations to modern and efficient high density web software." In short, NGINX is taking their open-source project and aimming straight for the top of the corporate Web server market.

At the rate NGINS is growing, and IIS is declining, I expect that by the end of 2012, NGINX may well be the number two Web server in the world. If you're involved at all in Web services, it's time to look into NGINX. It's going to be part of your future.

Web server statistics image courtesy of W3Techs.

Related Stories:

Oracle's big data appliance: Ready, set, wait?

Apache is being forced into a Java Fork

The Apache way meets the Oracle way

Microsoft readies new Express version of its IIS Web server

Topics: Servers, Browser, Hardware

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

11 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • NGINX errors

    That could explain why I seem to keep seeing <a href="https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=9115A524920CFD6F&id=9115A524920CFD6F%214419">NGINX error pages e.g. on Facebook.com</a>, more and more often these days. Fail! ;)
    Tim Acheson
    • RE: Apache and IIS' Web server rival NGINX is growing fast

      @Tim Acheson Not much validity if you're using IE as your web browser in the first place, let alone not even IE 9.
      garcia.rebecca
      • RE: Apache and IIS' Web server rival NGINX is growing fast

        @garcia.rebecca@...

        really why do i see this errors on chrome and firefox as well?
        Viper589
      • RE: Apache and IIS' Web server rival NGINX is growing fast

        @garcia.rebecca@... Are you implying that his web browser is the reason there was a server failure?
        fabspro
    • RE: Apache and IIS' Web server rival NGINX is growing fast

      <strong>freepuzzlegameonline.com / full-house-design.com</strong>

      <h1><strong><a href="http://www.freepuzzlegameonline.com/">Free Puzzle Games</a></strong></h1>
      <h1><strong><a href="http://www.full-house-design.com/">House Design</a></strong></h1>
      reginebautista
  • RE: Apache and IIS' Web server rival NGINX is growing fast

    nginx when used good can perform better. If you are able man you can make apache much faster. It depends on <a href="http://www.webmastersitesi.com/index.php" rel="muse" title="webmaster">webmaster</a> skills.
    denomav
  • RE: Apache and IIS' Web server rival NGINX is growing fast

    Many are using NGINX as front end server for image/css and caching, and Apache for PHP / Python / whatever backend serving since it's lighter and faster form some workloads.
    bvukov
    • RE: Apache and IIS' Web server rival NGINX is growing fast

      @bvukov@... <br><br>This.<br><br>We NGINX for imges/css and reverse proxy load balancing, and I suspect many are using it for all that as well.<br><br>We have 2 NGINX servers (heart beat / failover) sitting in front of 10 Apache 2 web servers. The configuration allows for a lot of options when determining which servers to send specific requests to as well (ie if you want to constrain hits to specific pages/scripts to a subset of the servers).<br><br>I just wish NGINX had better ajp support for frontending/balancing tomcat servers.. That is unless I'm missing a key module (in which case, please let me know <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink">)
      tk_77
      • RE: Apache and IIS' Web server rival NGINX is growing fast

        @tk_77 - how does the heartbeat/failover work between your Nginx instances? Do you mind sharing a bit of your technical architecture?
        daboochmeister
  • RE: Apache and IIS' Web server rival NGINX is growing fast

    Free nginx eBook:

    http://www.heronote.com/files/nginx.htm
    heronote
  • RE: Apache and IIS' Web server rival NGINX is growing fast

    I like Apache for my site's. It works well for me
    danielsweb