November 5, 2022

NGINX Vs NGINX Plus: why upgrade from Open Source to the commercial version

Comparison between NGINX and NGINX Plus

NGINX Plus Logo

NGINX open source load balancer software has gained a lot of popularity over time for its reverse proxy, load balancing and HTTP caching features. Open source NGINX is backed by immense community involvement, and hundreds of third party modules have already been compiled into the open source version.

With a mission to create the best web server platform, NGINX recently created its commercial version, NGINX Plus. With the commercial version, NGINX further extends advanced functionality and 24 × 7 expert support via email.

With NGINX Plus, you get a complete solution for all your application delivery requirements, including content caching, web server, API management, etc. In addition, NGINX Plus provides seamless delivery of advanced web and mobile applications.

What is NGINX Open Source?

NGINX open source is a high performance free HTTP server that doubles as a POP3, IMAP and reverse proxy server. It is a complete solution for upgrades with no downtime.

It is known for its HTTP server capabilities along with the ability to act as an email proxy server.

Open source functionality of NGINX

  • Load balancerThe NGINX open source load balancer scales the performance of your application. With NGINX hosting, it's easier to improve your server's efficiency, reliability, and performance.
  • Reverse Proxy or Reverse ProxyNGINX servers use a reverse proxy to configure load balancing for HTTPS. In the NGINX open source reverse proxy, the load balancer increases scalability, improves the performance and reliability of web applications, and efficiently distributes traffic between application servers.
  • High availabilityNGINX load balancer software provides resiliency and scalability for upstream application servers. Thanks to NGINX's high open source availability, the server also eliminates every single point of failure in the application stack. For whatever reason, if one NGINX server faces a problem, another server stands ready to take its place.
  • Reverse sticky sessions
    La Reverse sticky sessions open source NGINX assigns a path to the client to pass a request to a group of servers. All requests are compared to identify the server to which the request is delegated.
  • NGINX open source API gatewayNGINX hosting is the most popular API gateway processing API traffic in APIM solutions such as those from IBM DataPower, Axway, Apigee, Kong, Torry Harris, and Red Hat 3 scale.

What is NGINX Plus?

NGINX Plus is reverse proxy load balancer software with an API gateway added. The software helps strengthen security controls, orchestrate Kubernetes containers, and provides advanced monitoring.

With NGINX Plus, you can expect round-the-clock support from NGINX engineers and experts. Some of the advanced features of NGINX Plus on NGINX Open Source are active health checks, configuration via API, session persistence and more.

NGINX Plus features

Some of the advanced features of NGINX Plus that make it an updated version of NGINX open source are:

  • Advanced load balancing featuresNGINX Plus helps resize and provide redundancy. As a high performance load balancer, NGINX Plus enables session persistence, global server load balancing, active health checks, and dynamic infrastructure reconfiguration.
  • Extensive logging capabilitiesNGINX Plus offers extensive logging capabilities that allow you to analyze performance issues with your applications. NGINX Plus provides a simple and inexpensive log analysis tool.
  • Commercial level activity monitoringThe NGINX Plus API supports commercial-grade real-time activity monitoring, including dynamic configuration of upstream servers and key-value stores. The process replaced the Upstream Conf module that was previously used in NGINX Plus R13.
  • High availability configurationOpen-source NGINX uses Keepalived routing software to ensure high availability and prevent failover redundancy. With NGINX Plus, we can further extend this functionality with additional nodes and provide additional scalability and redundancy options.
  • Checking the status of the applicationIn the event of a session timeout or communication failure, the server responds with a status code to provide a failed status check report. Subsequently, the server is marked as unhealthy and NGINX Plus does not send any client requests unless it passes a health check again.
  • Adaptive multimedia streamingNGINX Plus is used to deliver MP4 and FLV content for HTTP pseudo-streaming. To further enhance its expertise, NGINX Plus supports multimedia streaming over computer networks for video on demand applications with Adobe HDS, Flash-based services and Apple HLS.
  • Dynamic reconfiguration on the flyThe load balancing software is easy to reconfigure and involves no downtime or lost traffic. With NGINX Plus, you get additional features that help you further automate the configuration change process.

How much does NGINX Plus cost?

NGINX Plus pricing is available upon request. For more information, please contact our team of consultants. They will call you at the requested time.

nginx plus pricing

How is NGINX Plus suitable for different business environments?

Using NGINX Plus depends on the existing infrastructure and requirements of your business. In general, you can use NGINX Plus in these circumstances:

  • Using NGINX Open Source: with NGINX Plus, there's no need to manage load balancers, server caching, and more.
  • Using hardware-based load balancers: NGINX Plus provides ADC functionality along with software form factors.
  • Planning to create a scalable web architecture: NGINX Plus can power busy websites in a scalable way.

What are the differences between NGINX Open Source and NGINX Plus?

Let's take a look at the main key differences between NGINX and NGINX Plus.

NGINX Vs NGINX Plus: Advantages of NGINX Plus over NGINX Open Source

Here are the key metrics you can compare NGINX Vs NGINX Plus against:

  • AffordabilityBeing the fastest web server available on the market right now, NGINX Plus gives you all the features of open source NGINX with add-ons at an enterprising level such as DNS system detection, session persistence, active status checks and high availability.
  • Support from NGINX expertsUsing the NGINX open source license, you can benefit from community contributions, while with NGINX Plus you get 24/24 commercial support from NGINX engineers.
  • Advanced featuresNGINX Plus combines a robust, highly scalable load balancer and accelerates cache to create a secure end-to-end platform for your web applications. Based on NGINX Open Source, NGINX Plus offers the functionality of a high performance web server.
  • Managed releaseTo build and test new NGINX binaries for rapidly changing customer needs, NGINX Plus launches timely releases that ensure the safety of the entire ecosystem.
  • Application Delivery CapabilityNGINX is also developing application delivery capabilities for NGINX Plus. The vendor of the load balancing software has already added session persistence and health monitoring capabilities to NGINX Plus. The company is adding more features that you cannot expect to. see in a web server.
  • SafetyTo protect data functions, NGINX partnered with ModSecurity WAF. This is also an exclusive service feature available to NGINX Plus users. With ModSecurity WAF, you get 7-level attack protection.

NGINX vs NGINX Plus: Head-to-head comparison

Features NGINX Open Source NGINX Plus
Load balancers
Session persistence Yes Yes
TCP / UDP, HTTP support Yes Yes
DNS and integration of service ‑ discovery Yes No
Active health checks No Yes
Content cache
Cache ‑ purging API No Yes
Caching for static and dynamic content Yes Yes
Reverse proxy & Web server
HTTP / 2 gateway Yes Yes
HTTP / 2 server push Yes Yes
security controls
RSA / TLS / ECC SSL offload with dual stack Yes Yes
Rate limiting Yes Yes
NGINX App Protect with add-on cost No Yes
Single sign ‑ on (SSO) for OpenID Connect No Yes
JWT authentication No Yes
Export to external monitoring tools Yes Yes
Extended status with 100+ No Yes
Built-in dashboard No Yes
High availability (HA)
Cluster wise configuration synchronization No Yes
State sharing for sticky ‑ learn session persistence. Rate limit and key ‑ value stores No Yes
Active ‑ active mode and active ‑ passive mode No Yes
Dynamic reconfiguration which does not include process reload No Yes
NGINX Javascript module Yes Yes
Key ‑ value store No Yes
Dynamic reconfiguration with NGINX Plus API No Yes
streaming media
MP4 bandwidth controls No Yes
Adaptive bitrate VOD like HLS, HDS No Yes
Live streaming for RTMP, HLS, DASH Yes Yes
Third party ecosystem
Commercial support No Yes
Input Controllers Yes Yes


As load balancer software, both NGINX Plus and NGINX Open Source are efficient and very popular. Both offer advanced load balancing features, with the only difference being that NGINX Plus, being a paid software, offers an elaborate system to deal with any redundancy.

Plus, it comes with additional features like data protection, 24/24 support from NGINX engineers, application deployment capabilities, and more. So, it might be worth it to upgrade from open source NGINX to NGINX Plus paid subscription.

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