Nginx woos the enterprise with new commercial release

Nginx Plus offers more ways to route traffic among multiple Java components

Nginx is betting that its open-source Web server software, now used by many large Internet services, will also find a home in the enterprise.

The second release of Nginx's commercial package, called Nginx Plus, "is really focused on more enterprise-class application delivery features," said Gus Robertson, Nginx CEO. "Nginx has the opportunity to bring the same solution we have for large-scale Web sites to enterprise customers."

Nginx Plus is a commercial edition of the open-source Nginx Web server software, first released in 2004. Nginx was specifically designed to handle large volumes of traffic. Nginx, the company, was founded in 2011 to commercialize the software.

Nginx Plus includes commercial support and a number of tools and features not found in the open-source edition, including application health checking, activity monitoring, advanced load balancing, dynamic reconfiguration, extended logging capabilities and adaptive media streaming. It also includes help with configuration and tuning.

Perhaps the most significant way Nginx Plus has been updated to accommodate the enterprise market is through the greater support for enterprise Java applications, Robertson said.

Thanks to a number of new extensions, Nginx Plus can handle more types of routing requests for Java applications, which are often composed of multiple components working in unison. With this additional support, "you can much more efficiently direct request to resources," Robertson said.

For Java routing, the Web server has supported cookie-based session persistence. Now the software features additional ways to route Java requests, including those based on parsing the data encapsulated within HTTP requests, such as hostname, or the URL (uniform resource locator) address. It works across all variants of languages running on the Java Virtual Machine, such as Groovy and Scala.

Also on the enterprise front, Nginx Plus can monitor deployments of FastCGI (Common Gateway Interface), a popular framework for building interactive Web applications. For performance metrics, it now monitors inbound traffic in addition to outbound traffic. It also supports fault tolerance operations, allowing an organization to run a backup Web server in case the primary server fails for some reason.

Nginx Plus 2 also includes the latest release of the open-source version of Nginx, version 1.5.8.

Traditionally, Nginx has been used by large Web platforms that require low-latency responses to incoming Web requests. Facebook, Zynga, Pinterest, Netflix and Hulu have all used the software.

Since the launch of Nginx Plus, the company has seen increasing interest from enterprises as well -- those companies that may not have as much traffic as popular Web platforms do, but are increasingly transacting their business and conducting internal operations over the Web, Robertson said.

Robertson points to how the four major trends in enterprise software -- the cloud, mobile, social networking, big data -- all rely on communication across multiple servers. "The traffic underneath those things is growing and becoming more intelligent," Robertson said.

Nginx Plus has garnered more than 100 customers since it was launched last August. Most of the customers have been enterprise clients, especially those in the midmarket, Robertson said. A broad range of industries have tried the product, including organizations in retail, entertainment, education and government, he said.

Nginx is the third-most-widely used Web server software, running on more than 14 percent of all sites, research firm Netcraft found in its January 2014 Web server software survey. Only Apache (42 percent) and Microsoft's Internet Information Services (29 percent) are more widely used.

Among the top million most-visited sites on the Web, Nginx ranks second on Netcraft's January survey, used by more than 15 percent of these popular sites.

Nginx Plus is available on a subscription basis -- US$1,350 a year for standard support and $2,700 a year for premium support.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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