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Application Delivery Controllers (ADC)
October 2022
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Ritesh-Bakhru - PeerSpot reviewer
Major Account Manager, Telco, MSSP and Media (Western India) at a security firm with 5,001-10,000 employees
Top 10
Quick installation and very easy to manage while doing orchestration or automation
Pros and Cons
  • "NGINX Plus also has NGINX App Protect. It's a separate module, which is inspired by the F5 apps."
  • "NGINX is a very basic load balancer and cannot do as many customizations as F5."

What is our primary use case?

I am a reseller. A lot of customers use this solution on cloud and on-premises. Typically, people use NGINX to build their own CDN solutions, so it often goes into CDN deployments. Most apps have NGINX OSS as the underlying base, whether they're cloud apps or on-premises apps. NGINX is the free version of NGINX Plus.

F5 is now creating buzz in the market because if you migrate to NGINX Plus, you'll get a 30 minute response time from F5 or the NGINX team if you have any challenges with the solution, so that's an advantage. 

NGINX Plus can give you multiple features from a load balancing perspective. The standard NGINX OSS doesn't have that.

There are about 400 million websites that run NGINX OSS. Since NGINX was an open source company until F5 acquired it in 2019, NGINX doesn't have a lot of paid products. In the last year and a half, the F5 and NGINX teams have started doing the sales pitch for people to upgrade to the paid version, like Red Hat, which has an open source version and a paid version. We're seeing good uptake, but I don't think they have been able to cover more than 10% of the user base.

For most of the companies I have interacted with, 90% of them are using NGINX because it's a favorite open source solution. People are now using NGINX Plus because F5 just started selling it in the last year and a half. Out of the 90% who are using it, there are about 10-15% who are using the paid version.

How has it helped my organization?

It definitely improves functioning. The virtual load balancing applications from F5, Radware, or any other provider are typically very heavy apps and demand at least 8 to 16 CPU of processing power. Typically, each of the install files are 3GB or 4GB, compared to NGINX Plus, which is hardly 3 or 4MB. It installs very quickly and is very easy to manage when you're doing orchestration or automation.

NGINX is very DevOps friendly compared to other load balancing modules from F5, Radware, or Citrix.

What is most valuable?

NGINX OSS typically doesn't give you enough persistence while NGINX Plus does, so that is an advantage. If you're using NGINX Plus as a load balancer in the front of your deployment, in front of your Kubernetes stack, or in your microservices deployment, then you will need persistence as a part of it. From an application perspective, you can still use NGINX OSS in general.

NGINX Plus also has NGINX App Protect. It's a separate module, which is inspired by the F5 apps. F5 has developed some capabilities on NGINX as well, so they're giving it a separate, payable module on NGINX. It's also a good solution for your microservices deployment.

What needs improvement?

NGINX cannot be a replacement for your traditional load balancer with what we use in the network today. However, with applications going toward microservices, NGINX is definitely a way forward. F5 has many traditional load balancing features, so they still need to bring some of those features to NGINX. 

NGINX is a very basic load balancer and cannot do as many customizations as F5. I think F5 is trying to implement those features in NGINX so they can improve the balancing on NGINX, but I think that will take some time.

With the traditional F5 set up, the same OS can do load balancing, firewalls, and even policy enforcement. If we are able to bring some of those capabilities to NGINX, I think it would become a versatile solution and usage would definitely increase.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been selling this solution for more than two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a stable solution. Customers who have deployed it haven't seen major issues. They're typically happy with it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is highly scalable. NGINX Plus is deployed on AWS or GCP and can seamlessly scale up or scale down depending on the requirements.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

A lot of our customers have moved from Apache. Apache has a scalability issue and a concurrency issue.

How was the initial setup?

Basic deployment can be done in 60 to 90 minutes.

If you're going into automation, you need one or two engineers maximum who will do the deployment and installation. If the user is self-sufficient and in DevOps, then you don't need anybody else.

What about the implementation team?

There are two kinds of sales motions. One is that somebody is already an NGINX open source customer, and we are upgrading some of the critical elements in that particular network. If we have a deployment of 50 or 100 servers and 10 of them are doing load balancing or running a Kubernetes controller, then I will deploy NGINX Plus for those. I will not deploy it for the entire application because the Kubernetes cluster controller can definitely regenerate the OSS modules or spin up more modules. In that situation, customers will do the deployment themselves because they're aware of the application they're using and the value they want to see.

If there's a sales motion where you're proposing a solution like a CDN and it's a mix of both F5 plus NGINX, then our people will typically work on the deployment of the solution or we'll have a partner work with the customer to do the deployment.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

A lot of people don't know that Plus offers much better features than the OSS version. In an organization that's running a private CDN, they might have thousands of instances right now. 

Moving to NGINX Plus is a huge cost. The list price of NGINX Plus is close to $5,500. If you upgrade all the thousands of instances, it can cost up to $6 million for optimization, which some customers may not be willing to do for all of the instances.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate this solution nine out of ten. 

A lot of deployments are moving to the cloud, so many people will stop buying traditional load balancers like the F5 hardware or even the F5 virtual machines. Deployment and configuration take a lot of time. NGINX is much easier to deploy and configure, and the skillset required to handle 

NGINX is more available in the market compared to deploying F5, Radware, or Citrix. If F5 is able to bring in more features on NGINX Plus, like an Ingress controller or something like that, we will see a lot of people going for solutions like NGINX.

HAProxy is a similar solution. They aren't 100% competition, but they are good in the market. People will start moving to those kinds of solutions instead of traditional load balancing like F5 or Citrix. Once there's a lot of movement to the cloud and microservices applications, traditional load balancers will start becoming redundant.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: reseller
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Buyer's Guide
Application Delivery Controllers (ADC)
October 2022
Get our free report covering F5, Kemp, Microsoft, and other competitors of HAProxy. Updated: October 2022.
655,465 professionals have used our research since 2012.