NGINX, the well-funded and increasingly popular web and application server company, today announced that it now supports HTTP/2, the next generation of the HTTP standard, in its latest commercial release.
The company, which already offered some HTTP/2 support in its free open source product, today released NGINX Plus R7 to its customers. While HTTP/2 support is definitely the highlight of this release, the company also added a number of other new features to its flagship commercial product.
HTTP/2 is, at least in part, based on Google’s SPDY protocol. For the time being, browser support for HTTP/2 is still somewhat spotty and as NGINX head of marketing Peter Guagenti told me, the company currently recommends that its users stick with using SPDY as the default accelerated HTTP protocol until more browsers catch up. Now, however, is the time to start testing HTTP/2, especially because of its enhanced security features.
Because of the way NGINX has implemented HTTP/2, the server can easily serve up a standard HTTP 1.x connection to legacy users and connect use HTTP/2 or SPDY for clients that support it. It can’t run SPDY and HTTP/2 in parallel, though.
With this update, NGINX Plus now also features improved load balancing support for TCP — a feature the company first introduced in the last release. In that earlier release, though, TCP support didn’t quite match NGINX’s support for HTTP. Now, however, users will be able to set connection limits and bandwidth limitations for TCP connections, for example. This may look like a minor feature, but these TCP connections are also often used by media streaming services and being able to limit the number of active connections can be a good first-line defense against DDoS attacks.
NGINX Plus R7 can now also handle applications that use Microsoft NT Lan Manager authentication. That may sound even more esoteric than TCP support, but this means enterprises can now deploy NGINX as a load balancer in front of their legacy Microsoft applications, something the company says many of its users have asked for.
As Guagenti also told me, this release also includes a number of major performance enhancements, as well as improvements to the product’s monitoring and management features. To make all of this more accessible, NGINX Plus now features a new dashboard, too. “Users expect a shockingly high degree of visibility into their stack,” he noted and also stressed that the company’s more sophisticated users can also use the service’s API to integrate the monitoring data from NGINX and integrate it into their existing dashboards. Admins can also use the dashboards to make changes to their servers on the fly to shape traffic, for example (and take servers offline and add new ones).
You can read about some of the technical details of this new release here.
The NGINX team tells me that it’s now seeing a very broad range of commercial customers for its commercial solutions. “We used to be the nerd’s best friends, but now enterprise users are looking for the same stuff,” Guagenti joked and noted that enterprise adoption now outpaces NGINX’s growth in more traditional tech companies. In his view, that’s due to enterprises embracing modern software architectures and moving to a DevOps model and the cloud. The company is seeing lots of financial institutions and insurance companies coming on board, for example, as well as some government entities.