Web Server Load Balancing with NGINX Plus

Optimizely Uses NGINX Plus to Streamline Its Tech Stack

A Simplified Architecture Cuts Maintenance and Operational Costs While Enhancing Security
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Use Cases
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Optimizely has built a leading digital experience platform focused on maximizing both customer and marketer experience by providing the capabilities to create and optimize highly personalized content and supporting customers to unlock their digital potential.


In a continuous platform review and optimization cycle, the Optimizely team identified infrastructure components with partly overlapping functionalities, resulting in avoidable complexity as well as higher operational and maintenance costs.


Simpler Operation, Monitoring, and Maintenance

Lower Operational Costs

A More Responsive, Secure, and Stable System


Optimizely’s Digital Experience Platform (DXP) provides businesses with a suite of digital solutions and marketing tools to increase revenue by better engaging existing and potential customers. The goal is to reduce customer acquisition costs by providing personalized and relevant content.

Optimizely Campaign enables customers to run automated marketing campaigns using email, mobile push, web push, SMS, and other channels. Combined with the Optimizely Data Platform, Campaign can also be used to shape and drive marketing campaigns based on insights and observations derived from aggregated customer engagement data.

To date, Optimizely’s 900+ partners and 1,800+ employees have helped more than 9,000 brands – including Toyota, Santander, eBay, KLM, and Mazda – enrich their customer lifetime value, increase revenue, and grow their brands.


Optimizely wanted to simplify the technical platform of its Campaign product and, thereby, increase efficiency from an operational and maintenance perspective. The platform was previously using both Apache web servers and NGINX Open Source. Although NGINX Open Source replicates many of the functions of the Apache web servers, it did not support Optimizely’s dynamic, high‑scale load balancing requirements.

The existing architecture meant that Optimizely had to analyze several different elements of the solution and multiple logs to troubleshoot problems. That could be a time‑consuming task, as the three‑node NGINX web cluster serving campaign‑related use cases typically handles peak traffic of 15,000 requests per second and a monthly data volume of about 500 TB.


At the end of 2021, Optimizely decided to simplify its architecture by upgrading from NGINX Open Source to F5 NGINX Plus, a supported enterprise‑grade solution, thereby enabling it to remove the Apache web servers.

We needed dynamic load balancing, and NGINX Plus stood out as a high performing and very user‑friendly product.
– Eric Hubert, Director of Software Engineering, Optimizely Campaign platform

NGINX Plus is a cloud‑native, easy-to-use reverse proxy, load balancer, and API gateway. In addition to being the fastest web server on the market and retaining the best elements of NGINX Open Source, it provides enterprise‑grade load balancing with session persistence, active health checks, and dynamic reconfiguration without needing a server restart. This means intelligent, high‑scale load balancing of HTTP, TCP, and UDP traffic is far easier to achieve, irrespective of infrastructure.

“We needed dynamic load balancing, and NGINX Plus stood out as a high performing and very user‑friendly product,” enthuses Eric Hubert, Director of Software Engineering for Optimizely’s Campaign platform. “NGINX Plus RESTful APIs enabled us to easily integrate load balancing control into our deployment automation solution. By removing the Apache web servers, we achieved a lean system architecture that works smoothly.”


Simpler Operation, Monitoring, and Maintenance

NGINX Plus ensures Optimizely has fewer systems to operate and maintain. This simplicity combined with a clearly arranged monitoring dashboard avoids redundant log data and enables faster problem analysis.

“Because it’s now just a simpler stack in terms of monitoring and observability, you have a cleaner picture. There’s now one system less in the chain that can break and it’s much easier to configure, which is a big advantage for us,” says Eric.

Lower Operational Costs

Other notable benefits include cost savings from reduced resource requirements and minimized processing latency.

A More Responsive, Secure, and Stable System

As they need to comply with privacy and data protection regulations, Optimizely’s customers are looking for it to provide highly secure solutions.

“For all the systems which are directly customer‑facing, security is extremely important and obviously, the web servers are at the front,” notes Eric.

Crucially, NGINX Plus helps Optimizely keep up with a continually evolving threat landscape through regular, quality‑assured software and security updates. This means the IT team doesn’t need to manually validate which open source version to use.

Key product features include request and connection limiting, TLS 1.3 support, dynamic certificate loading, and JWT authentication.

“It was very important for us to be able to adapt to the latest security threats,” Eric explains. “NGINX Plus does exactly that. We can have quality‑assured versions and apply them consistently on the platform, which is easier than on the open source track, where you always need to look at what is inside.”

Optimizely is considering employing some of the other additional features in NGINX Plus, such as the ability to shape traffic and limit specific kinds of traffic.

As a partner of NGINX, techmatrix consulting GmbH was responsible for the allocation of the licenses for the customer. For this, the need for NGINX licenses was carefully checked in advance together with Optimizely.

About Optimizely

Optimizely has built its leading Digital Experience Platform focused on maximizing both customer and marketer experience by providing the capabilities to ideate, create, develop, personalize, experiment, learn, understand, and optimize content and interactions. Using a scientific approach, Optimizely supports customers to unlock their digital potential, drive revenue, and reduce costs.

Optimizely provides not only software, but also expert advisory services which companies can leverage in support of their digital transformation initiatives and to learn how to get maximum value from Optimizely DXP.

A large ecosystem of partners helps customers to address every use case.