In the August 2018 survey we received responses from 1,661,467,123 sites, 221,524,704 unique domains, and 7,758,309 web-facing computers. This reflects a loss of 2.21 million sites, but a gain of 952k domains and 23.9k web-facing computers.
While the Apache web server remains the current leading platform in terms of its total number of domains, computers, active sites, and its proportion of the top million busiest sites, it continues to lose market share. All of Apache's figures decreased this month, continuing a slow long-term decline in most metrics. However, Apache continues to experience long-term growth in the absolute number of web-facing computers of approximately 200k per year, but is still losing overall market share. Over the past 12 months, Apache's usage amongst the top million sites has steadily decreased from 39.1% to 34.8%, and the number of domains using its server software has fallen from 83.7 to 75.3 million.
Microsoft's web servers power the largest share of sites, increasing its total from 670 to 675 million this month, representing a 40.65% share. Microsoft servers also experienced the largest growth in terms of domains this month, with an increase of 1.74%, adding just short of a million additional domains to reach a total of 58.4 million. The vast majority of sites using Microsoft web servers run IIS 7.x, which accounts for over 500 million sites. In comparison, IIS 8.x can only be found on around 50 million sites. Despite this, IIS 7.x and 8.x can both be seen on a similar number of computers—562k and 529k respectively. A large portion of IIS 7.x's larger site count can be attributed to link farming, where many sites are often hosted on just a few computers.
Although nginx doesn't yet lead in any metric, it continues to show significant growth. Whereas Apache and Microsoft servers have both lost active sites, nginx has been gaining in numbers, having increased 17.9% over the past year up to 41.9 million—a 22.67% market share. nginx has also increased its total number of web-facing computers by 41.0% over the past 12 months to reach 2.06 million, whereas Apache's and Microsoft's totals have seen comparatively little change of +7.9% and -0.16% respectively. Long-term nginx growth can be seen in all metrics except for the less stable site count. Over the past 12 months, nginx has gained 20.2% more domains, increasing its total to 50.9 million to hold a 23.00% share.
Web giants doing it their way
Apache, Microsoft, and nginx have each achieved their widespread popularity in the server market due to their general availability, but many large companies in the web industry choose to roll out their own solutions. Web giants such as Google, Cloudflare, Alibaba, and Amazon have each turned to creating or modifying their own specialised server implementations to suit their own unique requirements.
Google's custom server software operates on over 23.1 million hostnames and 2.0 million domains. Google open sourced part of its software, the Google Servlet Engine, at the end of 2008, but the software has not received any official public updates in 9 years. Despite this, servers identifying themselves as "GSE" make up over 75% of the active sites hosted by Google itself, with a large portion of those sites constituting Google's Blogger service (blogspot.com). In fact, the Google Servlet Engine was identified on 13.9 million active sites, which is 2.4 million more than all of Microsoft's server software combined, granting it third place in this metric, behind only Apache and nginx.
Taobao, China's largest online marketplace and part of Alibaba Group, developed their own fork of nginx. The fork, known as Tengine, was released back to the community as open source, leading to wider adoption. Tengine now runs on 56.8 million sites, making it the fourth most popular web server by this metric, despite it having only 1.2 million domains.
Cloudflare uses its own custom stack in order to provide content for 18.2 million sites and 6.7 million domains. Cloudflare historically identified their servers as "cloudflare-nginx", however in early 2018 Cloudflare transitioned to identifying their servers as simply "cloudflare" due to the ongoing evolution of their stack. These "cloudflare" servers are now the fourth most commonly identified in terms of total domains.
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