Now with HTTP/2: Major Nginx upgrade arrives

Nginx Plus Release 7 features performance boosts, TCP load balancing, and denial-of-service protections

The commercial version of the popular Nginx Web server will add HTTP/2 capabilities, TCP load-balancing, and diagnostic improvements in an upgrade rolled out on Wednesday.

The HTTP/2 support in Nginx Plus Release 7 boosts performance, said Owen Garrett, head of product at Nginx, in an interview: "It gives you higher performance for Web apps, particularly for complex apps with lots of images and resources." HTTP/2 also features security improvements, with traffic encrypted via SSL, and enables loading of more resources at the same time. Web pages can be regenerated, making sites appear to run faster from the user perspective, Garrett said.

Aside from performance improvements enabled by HTTP/2, Nginx Plus Release 7 includes the ability to use socket sharding optimizations to increase performance, and uses thread pools for reducing workloads like content-caching that involve high levels of disk I/O. It also has been enhanced for TCP load-balancing of applications like databases, chat services, or complex proprietary protocols. Enterprises can use a single product to deliver Web applications and applications leveraging other protocols.

Nginx has added denial-of-service protections, in which bandwidth limits are used and access to a service can be limited. "The net effect is it protects the app from being overloaded," Garrett said. In addition, the dashboard has been expanded to provide more information about the health and performance of applications.

Nginx Plus is used by enterprises for its load-balancing and application delivery control capabilities, Garrett said. Based on the open source Nginx server, Nginx Plus features support, configuration, professional services and architectural advice from the company. "Nginx is the most-popular Web server on the planet because it addresses high throughput scalability, performance, and elasticity," analyst Michael Facemire, of Forrester Research, said an email.

With release 7, Nginx can be used as a point of demarcation from external HTTP/2 traffic against internal HTTP/1 applications, Facemire said. This will ease the transition to the new HTTP/2 world, which looks very different than HTTP/1 from an application delivery perspective, he added.

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