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NGINX Goes Open Core

By Sean Kerner (Send Email)
Posted October 11, 2011


The open source NGINX web server is now one of the fastest growing web servers on the Internet. NGINX now holds down an 8.5 percent market share, with just over 43 million sites, according to the most recent Netcraft survey.

NGINX is now moving to the next stage of itS development with a commercial company called Nginx Inc. Nginx announced Tuesday that is has raised $3 million in series A funding. The new funds will help to grow the commercial company as it moves to build out an open core model of commercial technology and services on top of an open source base.

"Despite being somewhat controversial, we think that it's the most valuable approach for open source projects to be open core, in order to provide the commercial features that are really needed," Andrew Alexeev, Nginx co-founder told InternetNews.com. "We're not going to close functionally in the open source project, but rather we will address the items that small companies don't need but the bigger companies do need."

Alexeev noted that large enterprises need the support of a commercial vendor, and they are looking to have better efficiency and control. He stressed that the commercial efforts will not distract from the ongoing efforts to improve the open source product.

"Some people are really afraid that we will be trying to upsell them on something," Alexeev said. "That's not our intention and not our strategy at all."

Alexeev explained that NGINX has a modular approach, and the commercial capabilities will be provided on top of the open source web server. He added that there will be only one development track of NGINX, in an effort to keep the code efficient and not bloated.

NGINX is gaining market share by way of new deployments as well as by taking share from the open source Apache web server and Microsoft's IIS. In comparison to Apache, Alexeev said the main benefit for NGINX comes from its small memory footprint and enhanced concurrency.

According to Alexeev, Apache wastes memory in some use-cases, which is where NGINX can come in to help due to its memory efficiency.

"I'm not saying Apache is a bad web server," Alexeev said."But many things are implemented differently in NGINX."

While NGINX can be used as a replacement for Apache, it's not a drop-in replacement. Alexeev said that if an Apache user has complicated mod_rewrite (for URL re-writing) or htaccess (for directory access) rules, moving to NGINX could be problematic and will require some manual labor.

"You can do everything with NGINX that you can do with Apache," Alexeev said. "But something we will do in a future release is to help make people's lives easier when trying to move complete Apache web servers."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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