Nginx Expands Application Delivery Capabilities with New Platform

Nginx is developing a set of new products that will provide more control for micro-services based application delivery.

Nginx Platform

Nginx Inc announced on Sept.6 a series of products that will enable a new Nginx Application Platform. One of the new products is built with technology that Nginx obtained with the acquisition of privately-held software vendor Zokets.

Nginx was originally just an open-source web server, but in recent years has been adding enhanced application capabilities that go beyond its origins. The Nginx Application Platform is comprised of the existing Nginx Plus product in combination with the new Nginx Controller management platform, Nginx Unit application server and Nginx Web Application Firewall

"We have been positioning the company in the area of application delivery with both Nginx and Nginx Plus," Gus Robertson, CEO of Nginx, Inc told eWEEK. "What we're now announcing is an extension of our portfolio that makes Nginx a more comprehensive application delivery and management platform."

Nginx Plus first debuted back in August 2013 as an expanded enterprise-grade platform that builds enhanced capabilities on top of the open-source Nginx web server. The Nginx Plus product is now on its 13th release and includes load balancing, content cache and web server functionality. The new Nginx Controller product provides centralized monitoring and management for Nginx Plus.

"We did make an acquisition at the end of last year of a company called Zokets and that's the team and code base where the Controller comes from," Robertson said. "We were not public about the acquisition and kept it under the radar so as not to tip our hat with what we were planning to do."

In addition to the code from Zokets, the Nginx Controller also makes use of some existing monitoring capabilities that Nginx had built with its Amplify service to provide monitoring and diagnostic capabilities. A.J. Hunyady, founder and CEO of Zokets now works at Nginx in product management. Hunyady explained that the Controller is a tool that gives administrators a central point of control for deploying applications and micro-services across multiple clouds.

"Controller also provides the ability to express policies," Hunyady told eWEEK.  "The new services that organizations deploy today are no longer static and they have to be able to communicate with each other."

Hunyady said that as organizations move from monolithic application deployment models to a disaggregated micro-services model there is an increased need for both policy and monitoring. 

"So as you deploy services, you'll notice whether those services are healthy or if they require additional capacity, or even if the services are under security attack," Hunyady said.

Nginx Unit

The other new product announced by Nginx is the Unit application server that was developed by the founder of Nginx, Igor Sysoev. As opposed to the regular Nginx web server, the Nginx Unit application server is purpose-built for micro-services. Unit is being positioned by Nginx as a lightweight server that can support the PHP, Python and Go programming languages.

Nick Shadrin, senior product manager at Nginx said that the use-case for Unit is different than a traditional web server.

"We have designed Unit for the back-end application use-case," Shadrin told eWEEK. "Nginx Unit is controlled by a simple API, whereas Nginx web server is primarily controlled by a configuration file, so the interfaces are also different."

The final new part of the Nginx product portfolio is the Nginx Web Application Firewall (WAF). The Nginx WAF is based on the open-source ModSecurity WAF project and had been modified to be tightly integrated with the Nginx platform. Robertson said that his team worked with the ModSecurity engineering team to re-write ModSecurity so it could run natively on top of Nginx.

The complete Nginx Application Platform is not set to become generally available until early 2018. The Nginx WAF is now generally available, while the open-source Unit project is available as a beta evaluation edition. The Nginx Controller product is set to become available as a beta in the coming weeks.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.