Nginx Expands with Its Own Application Platform

The web dev world was treated to some exciting news last week, as Nginx Web Server shared their plans for their Application Platform at their Portland conference. Staying in touch with the dynamics of app writing and deployment nowadays, Nginx is looking to diversify its capabilities with a brand new dev environment that goes above and beyond load balancing, proxies or servers. But their upcoming project is ambitious in all the right ways — the Application Platform’s main goal is providing a comprehensive suite for developers while making the most out of DevOps, containers and microservices, as well as the cloud.

The platform is introducing two new major tools that will be instrumental in Nginx’s expansion from a popular web server to something bigger and better. Nginx Controller will serve as the central management for applications, regardless of where they are deployed. The other addition is Nginx Unit — an open-source modern app server that currently supports Python, PHP and Go, with other languages coming soon. Keeping up with dynamic environments is the main objective of Unit, and full integration with Controller is scheduled for this year, although no date is set as of now. The Nginx Web Application Firewall is the finishing touch to the platform.

While Unit is designed with open source in mind due to the desire of Nginx to make it as widely adopted as possible, Controller is most likely going to be closed-source. The latter is going into closed beta sometime in October, while Unit is already available. Pricing for the entire platform, however, is yet to be announced.

The decision behind this difference in Controller and Unit is easily explained — the former is meant to be the “bridge” between Nginx Plus (the commercial, enterprise-oriented iteration of Nginx) and other applications that are typically used in tandem with it. In fact, the Application Platform’s roots can be tracked down to Nginx Plus. As such, Nginx Controller is set to be a commercial product for the company — no surprises there, as Nginx has had a long-standing tradition of keeping a select few of its products off-limits.

By contrast, Nginx Unit aims to provide a better application server for microservices applications, where a variety of languages is a common occurrence. Furthermore, Nginx co-founder and CTO Igor Sysoev has gone on record as saying that in order for Unit to achieve wide adoption, open source is necessary and valuable. One thing is for sure — community feedback is definitely going to play a pivotal role in what shape this tool takes with time.