Nginx, the open source web server that is now the second most popular platform of its kind in the world, took another step forward this week with the release of a new edition of Nginx Plus, a value-added version of nginx for the enterprise. And that's only the latest news in the software's ambitious rise in recent months.

The nginx project launched more than a decade ago as an effort to build a lighter open source web server than Apache, which has long held the title as the world's most popular server platform. Nginx always had its fans, but it wasn't until 2011, when Nginx was founded as a company offering support and services for the nginx software, that the platform attained a major commercial presence.

As part of its value-added packages, Nginx introduced Nginx Plus in August 2013 as a subscription service. The product offers extra software features that are not part of nginx itself, along with professional support, and currently has more than 100 customers, according to the company.

On Jan. 14, the company unveiled what it is calling "Release 2" of Nginx Plus. New features in this latest edition include the following, according to Nginx:

  • Extended session persistence module for routing requests to Java application modules
  • Application health monitoring for FastCGI based app frameworks
  • Configuration utility to set up a fault tolerant NGINX Plus cluster
  • Activity monitoring for virtual hosts including HTTP status codes and traffic stats
  • New module to enable external authentication for HTTP requests
  • Flexible cache revalidation and cache invalidation mechanisms

The software update follows other significant momentum that nginx has enjoyed recently. Nginx announced $10M in Series B funding in October. In December, nginx bested Microsoft IIS to become the second most popular web server in the world for the first time, a lead it is handily maintaining according to the latest data. And just last week, Canonical announced that Ubuntu Linux would offer full support for nginx.

Right now, there is plenty to suggest that nginx is a Web server on the move. It has a long way to climb before it will be close to matching Apache's popularity, but the rapid growth it has enjoyed in just the last several months is a strong cue that there may soon be two major players in the world of open source Web servers for the enterprise.