Plug it in: Nginx Web Server now accepts more modules

Nginx is making its commercially supported enterprise Web server more extensible, providing interoperability for add-on modules that have previously been used only with the open source version of the server.

Nginx Plus R9, debuting today, uses the new Dynamic Modules feature to work with more than 100 modules for capabilities like Web security, authentication, and integrating third-party languages. Nginx will host a repository and support the modules, ensuring they have been properly compiled and tested, Owen Garrett, Nginx head of product, said.

The modules are written in C, and most were built by developers outside of Nginx. Previously, Nginx Plus customers had access to only 10 modules offered via a special build.

Version 9 also features User Datagram Protocol (UDP), which improves the distribution of loads across Nginx servers and helps with running services like DNS or Internet of things (IoT) applications. UDP is becoming popular for IoT because of its low-bandwidth requirements, Nginx said.

The new server includes service discovery for container and microservices environments where applications are updated frequently. "DNS SRV is used to publish the location of servers, and now R9, Nginx Plus can query the DNS server to find the location of servers," Garrett said. Locating servers via IP address also helps Nginx handle load balancing. "The benefit is it becomes much easier to deploy and scale apps, particularly cloud or container environments."

Nginx remains the top Web server among the 1,000 most trafficked websites, used by 49.2 percent of them, according to research site W3Techs. Apache is second, at 26.2 percent. Overall, though, Apache is used in 53.5 percent of sites, while in Nginx is found on 29.1 percent, based on W3Techs' data. Nginx has been updating Nginx Plus regularly, offering Release 8 in January, preceded by Release 7 last September, and Release 6 a year ago.

Users waiting for further word on NginScript, a version of JavaScript for configuring Nginx servers, will wait longer. NginScript has been in a technical preview stage since September; the company plans to shed more light on it this September. "It's a large engineering project," Garrett said. "Like most engineering projects, it will never be complete. It's an important strategic capability for the product." Users have relied on the Lua scripting language, provided via a third-party module, to customize Nginx. There's also a Perl module for embedding Perl code.

Finally, Nginx is improving its service-level agreement support; users will be able to get support within a maximum of 30 minutes as opposed to two hours or fewer previously. The open source version of Nginx has been around for 11 years, while the commercial version was first released 2.5 years ago.


Paul Krill

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