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What is NGINX?

  • NGINX is pronounced as "engine-ex".
  • It is an open-source, fast, lightweight and high-performance web server that can be used to serve static files.
  • NGINX has considered as the popular web server behind the Apache web server and Microsoft's IIS.
  • In its initial release, NGINX functioned for HTTP web serving. Today, however, it also serves as a reverse proxy server for HTTP, HTTPS, SMTP, IMAP, POP3 protocols, on the other hand, it is also used for HTTP load balancer, HTTP cache, and email proxy for IMAP, POP3, and SMTP.
  • NGINX improves content and application delivery, improves security, and facilitates scalability and availability for the busiest websites on the internet.
  • In short, we can say that Nginx is just a kind of software that is used in web servers to serve concurrent requests.
  • Previously we used to install Apache in web servers to handle these functions, but as the world, in growing and demanding more things at one time, the term concurrency comes into the world and nginx launched for the same thing.
  • Nginx was created by Igor Sysoev, with its 1st public release on October 2004 as an attempt to answer the C10k problem. Where C10k is the challenge of managing 10,000 connections at the same time. Today there are even more connections that web servers have to handle. Because of this reason, nginx offers event-driven and asynchronous architecture. This feature makes nginx as the most reliable servers for scalability and speed.
  • Some high profile companies using Nginx include IBM, Google, Atlassian, Autodesk, GitLab, DuckDuckGo, T-Mobile, Microsoft, Adobe, Salesforce, VMware, LinkedIn, Cisco, Twitter, Apple, Intel, Facebook, and many more.

Why use NGINX?

NGINX provides various services such as reverse proxy, load balancer, and rate limit network services. Reverse proxying is useful if we have multiple web services listening on various ports and we need a single public endpoint to reroute requests internally. This would allow us to host multiple domain names on port 80 while using a combination of different NodeJs, Go and java to power separate web services behind the scenes.

Nginx can handle the logging, blacklisting, load balancing and serving static files while the web services focus on what they need to do.

The configuration of Nginx is easier than Apache httpd. Nginx was designed for high concurrency and it is very fast.

How Does NGINX Work?

Before knowing the process of NGINX, let's take a look at how a web server works. When we request to open a webpage, the browser contacts the server. Then the server looks for the requested files for the page and sends it to the browser. This is the only simplest kind of work for a request.

The above example is also considered as a single thread. Traditionally, web servers like Apache create a single thread for every request, but Nginx does not work that way. Nginx performs with an asynchronous, event-driven architecture. It smartly follows events of a process.

Nginx divided its job into the worker process and worker connections. Here, worker connections are used to manage the request made and the response obtained by users on the web server; at the same time, these requests are passed to its parent process which is called the worker process.

Let's see an example for Nginx server handling concurrent MP3 and MP4 file requests:-

What is NGINX

From the above diagram, we can see that a single worker connection can handle around 1024 connections at a time. It is the best ability of a worker connection. There may be 'n' numbers of the worker process in Nginx based on the type of server we have and each worker process handle different jobs so that it can handle more numbers of concurrent requests.

Finally, the worker process transfers the requests to the Nginx master process which directly responds to the unique requests only.

Since worker connection can take care of up to 1024 similar requests. Because of that, Nginx can handle thousands of requests without any difficulties. It is also the reason why Nginx became an excellent server for busy websites like e-commerce, search engines, and cloud storage.

Features of NGINX

Some features of Nginx are as follows:

  • Reverse proxy with caching
  • IPV6
  • Load Balancing
  • Web Sockets
  • Handling of static files, index files, and auto-indexing
  • FastCGI support with caching
  • URL rewriting and redirection

What can NGINX and NGINX Plus Do for You?

Nginx and Nginx plus are the best web servers and application delivery solutions used by high traffic web sites such as Netflix, Dropbox, and Zynga. Busiest websites like Google, Netflix, Twitter, Facebook, etc. rely on Nginx and Nginx Plus to deliver their content securely, reliably and quickly.

  • Nginx makes hardware load balancers obsolete - Nginx is open source, less expensive and more configurable than hardware load balancers, and is designed for modern cloud architectures.
    Nginx plus provides support on the fly reconfiguration and integrates with modern DevOps tools for easier monitoring.
  • NNginx is a multifunction tool - with the use of Nginx, we can use the same tool as our load balancer, content cache, reverse proxy, and the webserver. It minimizes the amount of tooling as the configuration of our organization needs to maintain.
    Nginx Plus includes the rapid response to customer support, so we can easily get help diagnosing any part of our stack that uses Nginx Plus and Nginx.
  • NGINX keeps evolving. For the past decade, NGINX has been at the forefront of the development of the modern Web and has helped to lead the way on everything from HTTP/2 to micro-services support.
    As the development and delivery of web applications continue to evolve, NGINX Plus continuously adding features to enable flawless application delivery.

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