Nginx sees significant microservices adoption in Australia

Launches Australian office as part of APAC push

Nginx — the US company behind the open source Nginx load balancer, web server and content caching software that powers most of the world’s highest traffic websites — has opened an office in Australia as part of its push into Asia Pacific.

Norbert Kiss, the company’s head of APAC, said Nginx had opened regional headquarters in Singapore on 1 January to lead its Asian expansion several months earlier than planned a following success rolling out in Europe last year.

“Australia stands out as a key market which is why we are rolling out in Australia first,” he said. “It has a lot to do with agile development and the rapid adoption of microservices. This is really where the strength and value of Nginx plays very strongly.”

Telstra is a significant shareholder in Nginx through Telstra Ventures. The telco in April 2016 announced a “strategic investment” in Nginx.

Nginx the company (pronounced enginex) supports both the open source Nginx software and its commercial version, Nginx Plus.

Kiss said there were 485 million active websites running one or other version worldwide and about 1 percent of those were in Australia, which is comparable to the percentage of Australia-hosted websites.

However he said Australia represented a disproportionate 10 percent of the 1500 Nginx customers running Nginx Plus.

Nginx claims 63 percent of the world’s top 10,000 websites by traffic volumes run Nginx and that it is used by three of the five largest banks, three of the five largest US retailers, five of the 10 largest technology companies and five of the 10 largest SaaS companies.

CEO Gus Robertson — an Australian who became founding CEO of Nginx in 2012 — said the high take-up of Nginx in Australia was the result of the country’s advanced adoption of microservices.

“Alan [Murphy, regional solutions architect] is seeing a customer base that is ahead of what the US is doing [in microservices]. He was quite surprised,” Robertson said. “Australia is at the forefront of driving modern application development.”

Robertson added that, in light of this discovery he wished the company had moved into Australia sooner.

Nginx CEO Gus Robertson
Nginx CEO Gus Robertson

Globally, Robertson said, “There is no doubt that microservices are coming to the fore for building web-scale applications. We see microservices as the architecture that will help our customers deliver amazing digital experiences to their customers.

“But there is also the fact that many of customers are running legacy environments and typically 80 percent of your budget and 80 percent of your time is going to keeping the legacy stuff alive. Nginx is in a unique position to be the bridge to help you build the new apps and bring the legacy apps forward with you.”

Japan the next target

Kiss said Nginx’s next regional focus would be Japan followed by Singapore.

“Just as we brought the Australian plans forward we are bringing the Japan plans forward, based on the customer enquiries we are getting and where they are with their microservices implementation. We will deploy some resources in Japan after we have finished building out the team in Australia.”

The Australia team presently comprises ANZ country manager Anthony Leverington, regional account manager Mady Truong and Murphy.

Kiss is based in Singapore along with APAC regional marketing manager Cheryl Tuquib and regional channel director for Asia and India Kelwin Chan.

Kiss said the company was looking to recruit more, mostly technical people in Australia, but while there were plenty with Nginx skills those able to help customers with its implementation were hard to find.

“What we need is people who can help customers go through the journey and how it fits into their environment. They need to have very broad knowledge. That is why we have brought Alan [Murphy] down here to transfer some of his knowledge and then go and do the same in another country.”

Nginx expects to market in Australia both direct and through channel partners, Kiss said. “We have a small select group we work directly with and a larger group through partners but we looking to put in place a formal channel program.”

New software announced

A few days before opening its Australian office, Nginx announced the Nginx Application Platform comprising the latest release (R15) of Nginx Plus and two new products: Nginx Unit, designed to simplify microservices deployments, and Nginx Controller for monitoring and managing multiple Nginx instances.

Robertson said there had been huge interest in the new products from Australian customers.

“Nginx Unit is a polyglot application server that today can run Python, PHP, Ruby and Go and towards the end of this year we are focussing on bringing out Javascript and Java as well.

“NGNIX Controller, which will go GA by the end of June, is the brains behind the Application Platform. It brings greater manageability of the microservices environment, management tools, greater visibility of how traffic is flowing in your application environment and greater integration with the ecosystem around your environment.”

The origins of NGNIX

NGNIX was written in 2002 by Igor Sysoev while working for a portal company called Rambler. “Broadband was becoming prevalent and the servers could not handle the traffic and the workload,” Robertson said.

“Igor was looking at ways to get more out of the existing hardware using software. He was the first person on the planet to break the C10K problem: 10,000 concurrent connections. He decided to open source that product in 2004 and managed it single handedly until 2011 while having a full time job.

“In 2011 there were 35 million websites using Nginx. He formed a company and hired staff to move the project forward.” Robertson joined as CEO in 2012. “At that point we had eight people. Today we have 200 plus staff and over 1500 commercial customers,” he said.

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