All aboard the gravy train

Nginx goes commercial, adds live configuration

Elliot Bentley
nginx-logo1

Lightweight server gets Pro option including performance metrics and advanced load balancing.

The
creators of lightweight server Nginx have released a premium edition, adding some
long-awaited additional features – but for a price.

The open-source Apache replacement is now found on
around 14% of all sites, favoured by many for its ability to handle
large amounts of traffic. It’s already used as a load balancer by
WordPress and Instagram, and
looks likely
to soon overtake Microsoft IIS as the second-most
used server in the world.

Having been created by Igor Sysoev in 2002, it has
taken 11 years for the open-source project to receive a commercial
sibling. Nginx, Inc, the commercial arm founded in 2011 by Sysoev,
previously only offered paid support, but will now provide a
commercial edition with additional bells and whistles.
Subscriptions start at $1,350 per instance per month, which
includes a support package.

Key selling points of Nginx Plus include the ability
to make changes to a live server’s configuration, JSON-formatted
performance metrics and New Relic-integrated “health checks” to
uncover any performance issues.

Performance metrics can be exported elsewhere or to a
custom HTML/JS page, although Nginx comes with a built-in
monitoring dashboard, too. In addition, an automatic health check
watches for unexpected changes in page size and other
abnormalities.

Nginx is frequently used as a load balancer, and the
promotional material claims that the addition of “advanced load
balancing” allows for a “fully converged HTTP proxy solution with
request routing, load balancing, SSL termination and edge
caching”.

The move from a purely support-only business to this
“freemium” model might concern some users of Nginx, worried that
development of the open source version will slow. Indeed, paid
features that all developers might find useful, such as live
reconfiguration, seem unlikely to trickle down later.

Still, its developers need to turn a profit somehow –
 especially after receiving that $3m
in funding
in 2011. It remains to be seen whether it bolsters,
or merely distracts from, the open source version’s
development.

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