The Cool Couple, Nginx and Varnish


Nginx is entering a new phase in its business lifecycle, as it moves from the “free open source business model” to the “open source and commercial business model”. Nginx web acceleration software powers countless of global brands including Facebook. At the same time, it powers many global CDNs including MaxCDN, CloudFlare, Netflix, and so on. We’ve been tracking Nginx for the last few years, and the latest injection of VC funding has done wonders. The funding has enabled them to build a new and improved corporate brand. Their branding and feature set vision are phenomenal. We give them an A Grade in those two categories. Let’s not forget they closed the deal, signing up 250 customers, and validating their business model in the process.


The other global dominant Web Acceleration Software company is Varnish Software. They are right on the heels of Nginx, having commercialized their open source software platform, with the paid version having additional bells and whistles. Nginx and Varnish Software are in an enviable position, because they are the only two commercial web caching software companies in the world, and I don’t count Wowza since they’re focused on streaming. Varnish powers the likes of Fastly CDN, one of the most promising CDN start-ups. Also, it should be noted that Varnish didn’t publish pricing on their website like Nginx. It’s a smart move on their part, but that debate is for another post.

Both Are Cool

Nginx and Varnish both have their differences, but comparing one software against the other in their feature sets and architecture is futile. In the web acceleration software business, features are rolled out at a furious rate, and just because of one of them doesn’t have it now, doesn’t mean they won’t have it in a few months. I’ve seen and heard the debates on both sides, but basically boils down to Oracle vs SAP, Limelight vs Level 3, and Google Docs vs MSFT Word.

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