Making a decision about which server to choose is often a debatable subject. Even more, the IT pros typically get used to working with specific software. Nginx acts as a complementary solution to most web servers. The idea is not to replace your existing infrastructure completely, but to augment it with Nginx in ways that you get the best of both worlds. In the upcoming section you will learn about the reasons why you should seriously consider adding Nginx servers to your web farm.
The online users today have very low threshold of tolerance for slow websites. With smartphones and tablets available at your fingertips and so much of social data to consume, everybody seems to be in a rush. Innovation hence will not cut it alone. The website has to have equally good performance. As if this was not enough, Google now incorporates page load time into its search rankings. In essence, poorly performing websites will find it increasingly difficult to succeed.
Fast page load times builds trust in your site and leads to more returning visitors. If your site is slow, you are most certainly going to lose your visitors to your competition. Recent surveys reveal that users expect the page to load in less than 2 seconds, and 40 percent of them will abandon your website if it takes more than 3 seconds!
Nginx has solved the performance problem and that is one of the biggest reasons for all the praise and awards it bags. It is extremely fast, and shines even under high load .
It Can Accelerate Your Application
Not only Nginx is extremely fast, but it can also act as an acceleration toolkit for your existing application. The idea is to drop Nginx in front of an existing set of web servers and let it take care of routing traffic to the back end intelligently. This way, you can offload a lot of tasks to Nginx and let your back-end server handle more data intensive tasks. In effect, you will find that the users have been served the content while your back end was churning out the data.
It Has a Straightforward Load Balancer
Setting up a hardware load balancer is quite costly and resource intensive. It requires a lot of expertise to handle and also takes a considerable amount of time to set up. After a physical installation of the devices, you can definitely reap the rewards from your hardware load balancer, but you are locked in with the solution and hardware that may require servicing at times. In any case, you add one more layer of complexity in your infrastructure by using a hardware load balancer.
With Nginx you can set up a pretty straightforward and fast software load balancer. It can immediately help you out by sharing load across your front-end web servers.
It Scales Well
With Apache and IIS , it is a common pain: The more connections, the more issues. These servers solved a big problem around bringing dynamic content to the web server instead of static files, but scalability has always been a challenge. Keep in mind that scalability and performance are not the same problem.
Let’s say you have server that can handle 1000 concurrent connections . As long as the requests are short and the server is able to handle 1000 connections/second, you are good. But the moment a request starts taking 10 seconds to execute, the server simply starts crawling and you see the domino effect where one thing fails after another. If you have large files available for download, your server will most likely choke with a high number of concurrent connections. Apache and IIS servers are not suitable for this kind of load, simply because of the way they have been architected. They are also prone to denial of service attacks (DoS) . Unfortunately, adding more resources like CPU and RAM doesn’t help much. For example, if you double the RAM or CPU, that doesn’t mean the server will be able to handle 2000 concurrent connections. As you can see, the issue is not with performance, but with scale.
Nginx is one of the very few servers (along with Node.js) that is capable of addressing this issue, which is often referred to as C10K problem (a term coined in 1999 by Dan Kegel for 10,000 concurrent connections).
You Can Upgrade It On the Fly
Nginx provides you an ability to reconfigure and upgrade Nginx instances on the fly without interrupting customer activity. It is an extremely important capability because every server and every service needs patching at times. With Nginx you can patch your production environment reliably without completely bringing down your services levels.
It’s Affordable to Install and Maintain
Nginx performs pretty well even on servers with a very low hardware footprint. Even with default settings, you can get much more throughout from an Nginx server compared to Apache or IIS .
It’s Easy to Use
Don’t be intimidated by the lack of a user interface (UI) . Nginx is easy if you understand how to use it. The configuration system is pretty well thought out and once you get up to speed, you will thoroughly enjoy it!