Web Server Load Balancing with NGINX Plus

Day 1 at NGINX Conf 2019 in Seattle was packed with insights into how the application landscape is evolving, and how F5 and NGINX are coming together to create the industry’s most comprehensive offering for app delivery, from code to customer. On Day 2, F5 CEO François Locoh-Donou kicked things off, reiterating F5’s commitment to continuing NGINX’s strong legacy of open source contribution while bringing new innovations to market that combine the best the companies have to offer.

The rest of the morning’s sessions featured a lineup of experts and special guests, with product demos and customer case studies outlining the scope of NGINX’s accomplishments over the past year. Here are three of my key takeaways from Day 2.

Takeaway #1: With NGINX, F5 Is Investing in the Open Source Community

François started the day off by explaining to a crowd of expert NGINX users why F5 acquired the company, and addressing any lingering concern among open source community members by reaffirming F5’s commitment to open source and to growing its investment in the community.

“There has been a fundamental and necessary change in the way that large enterprises perceive and consume open source,” he said. “At F5 we didn’t get our start in open source like NGINX, but we have seen our customers insist upon and increase their use of open source in their application environments. We fundamentally believe that open source – or ‘community‑led disruption’ – is going to continue to be a very powerful source of innovation to disrupt existing markets and create new markets.”

F5 has begun making more frequent contributions to open source over the past several years, including a number of open source BIG‑IP integrations for Ansible and Kubernetes. But according to François, perhaps the most powerful statement about the company’s belief in open source is the NGINX acquisition itself.

“The faith and the trust that this community has put in NGINX is in fact what made NGINX most attractive to F5 and why I think this combination is going to be really special,” he said.

François promised increased participation in the open source community as all of F5’s business units continue to innovate over the next year, including increased contribution to NGINX Open Source and other projects. F5 will also continue to offer the same level of access to the open source code that NGINX provided before the acquisition, and will allocate more resources to engagement with the broader community, for example quadrupling the number of NGINX meetups in 2020.

Takeaway #2: NGINX Has Leveled Up During Another Strong Year of Innovation

NGINX veteran Owen Garrett, Sr. Director of Product Management for NGINX at F5, was up next, reviewing key innovations we’ve added to NGINX Open Source and NGINX Plus over the past year, and previewing what our engineers are cooking up for the next 12 months.

Owen set the scene by describing the vast gap that exists today between most traditional enterprises and the elite DevOps shops that have taken app development to the next level. According to a recent DORA report, those elite performers release code updates 208 times more frequently, and on average take less than a day to deploy. Their failure rates are one‑seventh the overall average, and when something does fail, they can fix it in less than an hour.

Companies working to attain that level of proficiency face several challenges, and yet achieving it has become imperative as many of today’s applications are simply not built for the use cases of tomorrow.

“The stakes are only getting higher,” Owen said. “There’s an unprecedented sea change, a proliferation of tools, platforms, and technologies. In this world of chaos, you’re moving fast, you’re deploying quickly, and trying to do things safely.”

As NGINX has worked over the past year to enable customers for this new frontier, the company has made 11 feature releases of NGINX Open Source and NGINX Plus, focusing on priorities for users and the community.

NGINX has built out capabilities around rate limits with more programmatic control so organizations can choose limits on the fly and dry run to test them before committing. This functionality has resulted in better control over how the application responds to major spikes or drops in traffic.

Continuing the theme of F5’s commitment to open source, Owen also announced that we’re working to port some NGINX Plus functionality into NGINX Open Source: “We’ll be moving some of the statistics framework into NGINX Open Source in the next year. We won’t be moving all of the stats themselves, but you’ll be able to use a consistent API to get the stats” with both NGINX Plus and NGINX Open Source.

Along with those changes, NGINX has enhanced in its TCP/UDP proxy and continues to invest in JavaScript, where the NGINX community and the industry at large is innovating. Security is also key, and NGINX has worked closely with Trustwave over the past two years on Trustwave’s ModSecurity offering, the world’s most widely deployed web application firewall. In addition, there are plans to incorporate features from F5’s best-in-class WAF into NGINX products.

Takeaway #3: F5 Products Are Helping Customers of Every Size Around the World

Of course, all of our efforts mean the most when we see them helping NGINX customers and users surpass the expectations of their customers and users. It was extremely gratifiying to learn from several customers how our technology is in play across the computing landscape.

Aaron Mbowa is CTO of DataposIT, a systems integrator based in Kenya and Uganda with clients all over the African continent. Aaron shared the results of his team’s work with Kenya’s Ministry of Health and its National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NASCOP), which faces numerous challenges in tracking, studying, and controlling the spread of AIDS across the country.

Despite limited resources, with NGINX Aaron and his team have been able to deploy a Kubernetes environment on bare metal and create an entire app infrastructure in a single box for clinics and labs across the country, dramatically reducing the time it takes to receive lab results while also improving accuracy and record retention. His team is readying the system to move to the cloud.

Later, Clinton Fung, Head of Innovation Technology for African Bank, discussed how the Johannesburg‑based bank has transformed itself into a full retail bank with “omnichannel capabilities” by shifting from monolithic frontend applications to a microservices architecture centered around NGINX Plus.

Rounding out the morning, Mohamed Awad, VP of Marketing for Arm’s Infrastructure Line of Business, joined F5 VP of Global Cloud Alliances Christine Puccio for a chat about how Arm worked with AWS to create an Arm‑powered EC2 instance type, called A1, designed for running applications like NGINX in AWS. With the new A1 instance, in many deployments NGINX users can save 40% compared to x86‑based EC2 instance types.

“All this data coming in and people are trying to figure out what to do with it, driving the rise of AI for example,” Mohamed said. “It’s central to figure out how to process it all, in some cases at the edge, in some cases along the way, in other cases in the core of the data center.”

From supporting agencies working on public health in Kenya, to collaborating with one of the world’s pre‑eminent chip manufacturers to fine‑tune data performance, to enabling innovation and collaboration for the broader open source community, the morning’s session was a true illustration of the reach and relevance that F5 and NGINX have as a combined company. I’m excited about how the new F5 is going to execute on its mission of reaching “every app, anywhere.”

Engage Beyond NGINX Conf!

If you missed any of this week’s sessions or just want to replay them, they’ll be available soon on our NGINX Conf video page.

But we hope you’ll get involved and engage with us in other ways too! Sign up for our Early Access Program for news about upcoming product features, and shape our roadmap by voting for the new capabilities you’d most like to see! I’m interested in any feedback you’d like to share – please leave a comment below.

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Headshot Gus Robertson CEO NGINX

Gus Robertson

Senior Vice President and General Manager of NGINX

Gus Robertson is Senior Vice President and General Manager of NGINX at F5.

Previously, he served as CEO of NGINX, Inc., which was acquired by F5 in 2019. Robertson joined NGINX as CEO in 2012 when the company had no commercial offerings or revenue and a staff of 8. Over the next 6 years, he grew NGINX to more than 250 employees and raised over $100 million in venture capital from such investors as Goldman Sachs and NEA.

Prior to joining NGINX, he worked at Red Hat for 10 years, first as Vice President of the Asia Pacific region and then leading Global Business Development from the US. Before joining Red Hat, Robertson ran the Asia Pacific region for Visio, prior to its acquisition by Microsoft in 2000.

Robertson studied Marketing at Charles Sturt University in Australia and completed the Advanced Management Program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.


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