In the December 2019 survey we received responses from 1,268,289,402 sites across 243,753,534 unique domain names and 9,430,985 web-facing computers. This reflects a loss of 40.1 million sites, but a gain of 19,200 domains and 156,000 computers.
nginx gained the largest number of sites (+41.2 million), while Apache lost 50.1 million and Microsoft lost 17.5 million; but in terms of unique domains, all major vendors suffered losses. Microsoft lost the most domains (-2.67 million), followed by Apache (-572,000); and, despite gaining so many sites, nginx lost 422,000 domains.
nginx has continued its strong and steady growth in web-facing computers, this month gaining 58,500 computers compared with Apache's gain of 42,900. nginx is edging ever-closer to Apache's leading market share, which fell by 0.13 percentage points to 35.3%, leaving it only 3.4 points ahead of nginx.
If current trends continue, nginx looks set to overtake Apache at some point in late 2020, which would make it the largest vendor in terms of web-facing computers. nginx has already been in the lead by sites since April 2019, and is also closing in on domains, but is still some way behind Apache in active sites and the top million sites.
OpenLiteSpeed 1.6.4 was released on 18 November. This is the open source version of the LiteSpeed web server, which was first to ship HTTP/3 support in July, and boldly claims to outperform nginx when handling HTTP/3 traffic. More than 20 million sites across 3.9 million domains are running either LiteSpeed or OpenLiteSpeed - both variants exhibit the same "LiteSpeed" server header.
QUIC and HTTP/3 have been supported by Cloudflare's partly nginx-based edge network since September; and in October, Cloudflare released a patch that allows its savoury implementation of these protocols (quiche) to be integrated into the upstream nginx codebase. LiteSpeed's HTTP/3 benchmarks were carried out against this patch.
On 19 November, Microsoft announced the availability of Microsoft Azure from its new cloud datacenter regions in Norway. Norway's largest financial services group, DNB Group, has already chosen the new region to migrate services into the cloud in accordance with Norwegian data handling regulations.
Finally, NGINX Plus Release 20 (R20) was released on 3 December. Based on the open source nginx web server, NGINX Plus is a commercial offering, and R20 includes real-time monitoring and logging of rate-limited traffic, enhancements to connection limiting, and some security improvements for HTTP/2.
|Developer||November 2019||Percent||December 2019||Percent||Change|
In the November 2019 survey we received responses from 1,308,343,327 sites across 243,734,379 unique domain names and 9,274,744 web-facing computers. This reflects a gain of 7.46 million sites, 2.18 million domains and 230,000 computers.
Amongst the largest web server vendors, Microsoft, nginx, and Google all gained sites this month, increasing by 19.41 million (+10.59%), 10.17 million (+2.38%), and 1.33 million (+3.83%) sites respectively, whilst Apache lost 13.56 million (-3.64%) sites.
While Microsoft gained substantially the most sites overall, this translated to a relatively small increase of domains (+13,000). As a result, it saw the largest loss of domain market share, dropping by 0.18pp. Apache similarly lost market share, with a drop of 0.16pp, despite a large increase in domains (+268,000).
nginx fared better, with an increase in domains (+522,000) almost double that of Apache’s leaving its market share largely unchanged. nginx also saw large gains in web-facing computers (+113,000) and amongst the top million busiest sites (+1,000) giving it the largest market share increases in those metrics.
All of the largest web server vendors were however outpaced this month in domain gains by both Cloudflare and OpenResty, which increased by 1.06 million and 558,000 domains. While the survey tracks these products separately, OpenResty makes uses of the nginx core, integrating it with additional Lua-based modules, while Cloudflare’s own server software was originally based on nginx. The survey now finds a total of 18.22 million domains for the Cloudflare web server software, and 7.10 million for OpenResty.
|Developer||October 2019||Percent||November 2019||Percent||Change|
In the October 2019 survey we received responses from 1,300,884,420 sites across 241,553,033 unique domain names and 9,045,029 web-facing computers. This reflects a gain of 9.71 million sites, 421,000 domains and a loss of 23,000 computers.
Amongst the largest web server vendors, only nginx and Google gained sites this month with the two vendors increasing by 5.67 million (+1.34%) and 1.80 million (+5.45%) sites respectively, whilst Apache and Microsoft lost 2.14 million (-0.57%) and 6.77 million (-3.56%) sites.
nginx was in fact the only major web server vendor to see increases in most metrics this month, with gains in domains (+480,000), web-facing computers (+12,000), and top million websites (+472).
Apache saw substantially the largest loss of domains, dropping by 762,000 (-1.04%), with Microsoft following with a smaller drop of 125,000 (-0.26%). These losses were largely offset by increases in domains using other smaller vendors, such as Cloudflare and Tengine, both of which are based on nginx.
In terms of web-facing computers, Microsoft saw the largest loss of 56,000 (-3.46%), followed by Apache which dropped 15,000 (-0.46%). A large proportion of Microsoft's loss came at hosting provider Cloud Innovation which appeared to switch many sites to Tengine.
|Developer||September 2019||Percent||October 2019||Percent||Change|
In the September 2019 survey we received responses from 1,291,178,101 sites across 241,131,705 unique domain names and 9,068,313 web-facing computers. This reflects a gain of 19 million sites, 1.69 million domains and 119,000 computers.
All major vendors gained sites this month. The largest gain was for nginx with an increase of 20.6 million sites, followed by Microsoft (+2.9 million), Google (+2.1 million) and Apache (+462,000). This extends nginx's lead as the largest web server vendor by number of sites; it gained 1.12 percentage points taking it to a 32.7% market share. nginx also showed the largest gains in number of unique domains and web-facing computers.
The largest gain within the top million sites this month was by LiteSpeed, which also saw gains in hostnames, domains, and web-facing computers. The September survey saw 1,422 more sites within the top million using this light-weight Apache alternative, an 8.0% increase. This was accompanied by increases of 480,000 sites (+2.6%), 326,000 domains (+9.4%) and 1,665 web-facing computers (+8.1%).
There are losses in market share for both Apache and nginx as the largest server vendors by number of active sites. Apache lost 22,000 active sites while nginx gained 915,000; due to large gains elsewhere this amounted to Apache losing 0.94pp and nginx losing 0.11pp. Google gained 800,000 active sites and 0.16pp of market share to retake third place from Cloudflare; Cloudflare gained 591,000 sites. The largest increase of active sites was in sites running openresty with an increase of 1.04 million.
Web Server Releases
Apache 2.4.41 was released on August 14th bringing several security fixes. This is the first release of Apache 2.4 since 2.4.39 was released on April 1st.
OpenLiteSpeed released a major new feature in version 1.6.0 on September 10th adding support for QUIC and HTTP/3 as well as a new one-click build tool and support for more platforms.
Both OpenResty and Tengine released versions incorporating the nginx patches that fix the HTTP/2 related security issues discussed in last month's blog. OpenResty version 188.8.131.52 was released on September 8th and Tengine 2.3.2 released on August 20th.
|Developer||August 2019||Percent||September 2019||Percent||Change|
In the August 2019 survey we received responses from 1,271,920,923 sites across 239,441,736 unique domain names and 8,948,887 web-facing computers. This reflects a large loss of 124 million sites, but a gain of 1.30 million domains and 10,700 computers.
All major vendors lost active sites this month, and of those, only Google made a gain in sites (+1.58 million). Microsoft lost the largest number of active sites (-2.03 million), while nginx lost the most sites (-81.4 million, -16.9%) but remains in the lead with a 31.6% share of all sites.
Despite losing so many sites, nginx showed the strongest growth in unique domains, web-facing computers, and among the top million sites. This bears more significance than the more unpredictable changes in the site counts, which are prone to fluctuations month-on-month as link farms, spam networks and other low-value web content comes and goes.
With a gain of 58,500 web-facing computers, nginx now has more than 31% of the computer market share – just 5.39 percentage points behind Apache – while Microsoft has lost 65,000 computers. As is evident in the graphs, counting web-facing computers provides the most stable metric and makes long term trends easy to spot. In particular, the clear and consistent rise in nginx's market share and the steady decline of Apache makes it hard not to imagine nginx taking the market lead from Apache by early next year.
The number of top-million websites powered by nginx has increased by 1,292, while Apache's count fell by 3,101. Apache maintains the lead in this market, but is now only 5.92 percentage points ahead of nginx. Apache also continues to lead in terms of unique domains, despite losing 784,000 this month. It has a similar lead over nginx, which is now only 5.32 percentage points behind Apache after gaining 753,000 domains.
Microsoft lost counts in almost all metrics this month, apart from where it gained 166,000 domains, although this still resulted in a small drop in its domain market share. The sites market is the only one where its share did not fall, despite losing 16.6 million sites.
Netflix finds nginx vulnerabilities
nginx 1.61.1 stable and nginx 1.17.3 mainline were released on 13th August, in order to address three HTTP/2 security issues that could cause excessive memory consumption and CPU usage. All versions between 1.9.5 – 1.17.2 are affected, but only if HTTP/2 is enabled. These security issues were discovered by Jonathan Looney at Netflix, which chose to use nginx when developing its own globally distributed content delivery network, known as Netflix Open Connect.
The content delivery network consists of Open Connect Appliances, which run the FreeBSD operating system and use nginx to stream audio and video directly to Netflix customers. Most of this content is served from appliances hosted by ISPs, rather than across the internet, which leads to better performance whilst vastly reducing the amount of peered traffic when huge numbers of customers worldwide stream a popular show at the same time. Thousands of ISPs have enthusiastically participated in this program because it is free to connect to the Open Connect network, and it prevents Netflix traffic from taking up a significant amount of an ISP's internet capacity.
FreeBSD is dying?!
Netflix chose FreeBSD for its balance of stability and features (as did Netcraft once upon a time), but it is becoming an increasingly less common frontend operating system on the web as a whole. Only 60,200 (0.67%) web-facing computers are running FreeBSD today. To put this into perspective, more than twice as many servers are still running Windows Server 2003, even though it has not been supported for several years.
Linux is by far the most commonly used operating system for web-facing computers. It is installed on 6.64 million (74.2%) servers, and at least 1.05 million of these can be positively identified as running the Ubuntu distribution.
Naturally, the choice of operating system depends to some extent on what type of web server will be running on it, and vice versa. For example, it is no surprise that most instances of Microsoft IIS can be found running on Windows Server, and most instances of Windows Server are used to run Microsoft IIS; but it is clear that the Linux operating system is especially favoured for some web servers. Between 92% and 96% of all web-facing computers that use each of nginx, Apache, Litespeed and lighttpd can be found running Linux.
AWS ELB overtakes Beaver
awselb (Amazon Web Services Elastic Load Balancing) web server was found on 69,800 web-facing computers this month, overtaking Beaver to become the fourth most commonly used frontend server by computers. Practically all of these machines appear to be running Linux, and are responsible for hosting 464,000 sites across 48,500 unique domains.
ELB achieves fault tolerance and scalability by automatically distributing incoming application traffic across multiple targets – and can even spread it across multiple AWS Availability Zones – so the 69,800 AWS ELB servers exposed to the internet are likely to be only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the AWS infrastructure used by each website.
|Developer||July 2019||Percent||August 2019||Percent||Change|
In the July 2019 survey we received responses from 1,395,897,118 sites across 238,145,990 unique domain names and 8,938,144 web-facing computers. This reflects gains of 62.5 million sites, 1.15 million domains, and 98,000 computers.
nginx continues to extend its lead at the top of the list of web server vendors by total number of sites: it has gained 43.3 million sites since the June 2019 survey, bringing its total to 483 million. It now leads second-place Apache by 6.84 percentage points.
nginx has achieved the milestone of serving more than a third of sites in the survey. It becomes the fourth web server to achieve this in the 24 years since Netcraft's Web Server Survey began in August 1995. At that time NCSA [archive.org] - one of the very earliest web servers - served 53% of all sites. NCSA was quickly replaced by Apache, which passed the one-third milestone in June 1996 and continued to serve more than a third of sites until February 2016. Microsoft have served more than a third of sites for four separate periods most recently falling below a third in January 2019.
Unusually, nginx did not fare as well in any of the other metrics this month, losing out in both absolute numbers and market share in terms of domains (-4.0 million, -1.81pp), active sites (-1.2 million, -1.00pp) and in the top million busiest sites (-9,300, -0.93pp). The drops in domains and active sites are accounted for by large changes at two hosting providers; 2.8 million domains hosted by Endurance International Group moved from using nginx to Apache, and 1.5 million domains and 1.4 million active sites hosted by ecommerce provider Shopify now identify as using cloudflare. nginx also lost a small amount of market share of web-facing computers (-0.10pp) despite gaining 21,300 in absolute terms. These losses buck the trend of recent months that has seen nginx gaining market share from Apache and Microsoft.
Apache gained both the largest number of domains and the largest number of active sites since the June survey with increases of 2.2 million and 2.1 million respectively. Microsoft gained the largest number of web-facing computers with an increase of 43,200.
Cloudflare's web server moves up another place into fourth this month after gaining 4.7 million sites to bring its total to 39.9 million. It serves 9.5 million more sites than fifth placed openresty, but stands well behind the 190 million sites served by Microsoft's IIS. The 39.9 million sites served using Cloudflare are spread across 15.2 million unique domains, 2.6 sites per domain, a significantly smaller number of sites per domain than the top three placed web servers. Nginx has 8.2 sites per domain, Apache has 5.3, and Microsoft IIS has 9.3; the total for all sites in the survey is 5.8 sites per domain.
Envoy - the open source edge and service proxy for cloud-native applications, which leapt up to the tenth largest web server by sites in the May survey - has dropped over 200 places and is only seen hosting 13,000 sites in the July survey. This comes as a result of Squarespace sites no longer identifying themselves as using Envoy, but rather announcing "Squarespace" as the web server. Squarespace is the eleventh largest web server by number of sites with 5.2 million sites on 2.8 million unique domains; the seventh largest number of domains.
|Developer||June 2019||Percent||July 2019||Percent||Change|
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