NGINX Vs NGINX Plus: Why Upgrade from Open Source to Commercial Version

NGINX Vs NGINX Plus: Why Upgrade from Open Source to Commercial Version-feature image
March 28, 2024 8 Min read

NGINX open source load balancing software has gained much popularity over time for its reverse proxy, load balancer, and HTTP cache features. The NGINX open source is backed by immense community involvement, and hundreds of third-party modules have already been compiled in the open-source version.

Under the mission to create the best web server platform, NGINX recently came up with its commercial version, NGINX Plus. With the commercial version, NGINX further extends advanced features and the support of experts 24×7 via email.

With NGINX Plus, you get a one-stop solution for all your application delivery requirements, including content caching, web server, API management, etc. Also, NGINX Plus provides seamless delivery of advanced, web, and mobile-based applications.

What is NGINX Open Source?

NGINX open source is a high-performance free HTTP server that also acts as a POP3, IMAP, and reverse proxy server. It is a comprehensive solution for upgrades with zero downtime.

It’s known for its HTTP server capabilities along with the ability to serve as an email proxy server.

NGINX Open Source Features 

  • Load balancer

    NGINX open source load balancer scales your application’s performance. With NGINX hosting, it is easier to improve your server’s efficiency, reliability, and performance.

  • Reverse proxy

    NGINX servers use a reverse proxy to configure load balancing for HTTPS. In NGINX open source reverse proxy, the load balancer increases scalability, improves performance and reliability of web applications, and efficiently distributes traffic across application servers.

  • High availability

    NGINX load balancing software provides resilience, scalability for your upstream application servers. Due to NGINX open source high availability, server also eliminates any single point of failure in the application stack. For any reason, if an NGINX server faces any issue, another server stays ready to take its place.

  • Reverse sticky session

    NGINX open source reverse sticky session assigns a route to the client to pass a request to a server group. All requests are compared to identify the server to which the request is proxied.

  • NGINX open source API gateway

    NGINX hosting is the most ubiquitous API gateway that processes API traffic in APIM solutions like those from IBM DataPower, Axway, Apigee, Kong, Torry Harris, and Red Hat 3 scale.

What is NGINX Plus?

NGINX Plus is a reverse proxy load balancing software with an added API gateway. The software helps in strengthening security controls, orchestrating Kubernetes containers, and ensures 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 over NGINX Open Source are active health checks, configuration through API, session persistence, and more.

NGINX Plus Features  

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

  • Advanced load balancing capabilities

    NGINX Plus helps in scaling out and providing redundancies. As a high-performance load balancer, NGINX Plus enables session persistence, global server load balancing, active health checks, and dynamically reconfigures your infrastructure.

  • Extended logging capabilities

    NGINX Plus offers extended logging capabilities that enable you to investigate performance issues with your applications. NGINX Plus provides a log analysis tool that is simple and cost-effective.

  • Commercial‑grade activity monitoring

    NGINX Plus API supports commercial-grade live activity monitoring, including the dynamic configuration of upstream servers and key-value stores. The process has replaced the Upstream Conf module that was being used previously in NGINX Plus R13.

  • High availability setup

    NGINX open-source uses routing software Keepalived 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.

  • Application health check

    In case of a session timeout or communication error, the server responds with a status code to give a failed health check report. After this, the server is marked unhealthy, and NGINX Plus doesn’t send any client request to it unless it passes a health check again.

  • Adaptive media streaming

    NGINX Plus is used to deliver MP4 and FLV content for HTTP pseudo-streaming. To further increase its competence, NGINX Plus supports multimedia streaming over computer networks for video-on-demand applications with Adobe HDS, Flash-based services, and Apple HLS.

  • Dynamic on‑the‑fly reconfiguration

    The load balancing software is easy to reconfigure and doesn’t lead to any downtime or traffic loss. With NGINX Plus, you get additional features that help you further automate the process of modifying the configuration.

How Much Does NGINX Plus Cost?

NGINX Plus pricing is available on request. For more information, connect with our team of consultants. They will call you at your requested time. 

How is NGINX Plus Suitable for Different Business Environments?

The use of NGINX Plus depends on the existing infrastructure and requirements of your business. Broadly, you can use NGINX Plus under these circumstances:

  • Using NGINX Open Source: With NGINX Plus, you don’t need to manage load balancers, server caching, and more of your own.
  • Using Hardware-Based Load Balancers: NGINX Plus provides ADC features along with software form factors.
  • Planning to create a scalable web architecture: NGINX Plus can power busy websites in a scalable manner.

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

Let’s check out the major key differences of NGINX vs NGINX Plus.

NGINX Vs NGINX Plus: Benefits of NGINX Plus Over NGINX Open Source

Here’re the key metrics on which you can compare NGINX Vs NGINX Plus:

  • Convenience

    As the fastest web server available in the market right now, NGINX Plus brings you all the features of NGINX open source with additional enterprising-level features such as DNS system discovery, session persistence, active health checks, and high availability.

  • Support by NGINX Expert

    Using NGINX open source license, you can benefit from community contributions, whereas with NGINX Plus, you get 24×7 commercial support from NGINX engineers.

  • Advanced Features

    NGINX Plus combines a robust load balancer that is highly scalable and accelerates cache to create a safe end-to-end platform for your web applications. Built on top of NGINX Open Source, NGINX Plus delivers the functionality of a high‑performance web server.

  • Managed Release

    To build and test new NGINX binaries for the customers’ rapidly changing needs, NGINX Plus rolls out timely releases that ensure the security of the entire ecosystem.

  • Application Delivery Capabilities

    NGINX is also developing application delivery capabilities for NGINX Plus. The load balancing software provider has already added session persistence and health monitoring capabilities to NGINX Plus. The company is adding more features to it that you cannot expect to see in a web server.

  • Security

    To secure data functions, NGINX has partnered with ModSecurity WAF. This is also an exclusive service feature available for NGINX Plus users. With ModSecurity WAF, you get 7-layer attack protection.

NGINX vs NGINX Plus: Side By Side Comparison

Features  NGINX Open Source  NGINX Plus 
Load balancer       
Session persistence  YesYes
TCP/UDP, HTTP support  YesYes
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 
Ingress Controller  Yes  Yes 


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

Also, it comes with additional features such as data protection, 24×7 support by NGINX engineers, application delivery capabilities, and so more. Hence, upgrading from NGINX open source to the paid subscription of NGINX Plus is worth it. 

Written by Manoj Joshi

He comes from a media background, and he started technical content writer owing to his passion for tech equipment and gadgets. He has created his niche in writing about business software, and his expertise lies majorly in technologies for small businesses and enterprises. Read more

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