Survey data: nginx poised to become number 2 web server

Projections show a summer 2012 overtaking of IIS

If current trends hold, then sometime late this summer, Microsoft's Internet Information Services will fall to the number three web server position in global domains, behind two open source web server platforms: Apache and nginx.

This conclusion is one that I drew based on the latest Netcraft Web Server Survey numbers, which show, once again, a slight increase in the market share for nginx and a similar decrease for Microsoft IIS share numbers from March 2012 to April 2012.

A quick scan of the last few month's surveys seemed to indicate similar occurrences, so I became curious to see how this was actually playing out. I fired up the ol' spreadsheet application and entered the last 12 months' worth of data from Netcraft's market share for top servers across all domains and discovered some interesting numbers.

First, after projecting forward the linear trend lines for IIS and nginx a few months, I confirmed my hunch: nginx will pass IIS in mid-August 2012 if these market share numbers continue to stay true to their current pattern.

You may recall headlines to this effect back in January, when the same Netcraft survey showed that nginx had taken the number 2 spot in active sites, a sampling method used by Netcraft to predict active multiple sites on single IP addresses. The numbers I am referring to here are Netcraft's actual surveyed sites that have responses to the automated queries.

Looking at these numbers, IIS hasn't seen a rise in market share at all in the last twelve months--though it came close in July 2011, when its market share only fell by 0.01 percent. Conversely, nginx has had increases in market share for eight of the last twelve months.

What really gets you about these numbers is the phenomenal growth in surveyed host names from the Netcraft survey. For April 2012, Netcraft picked up 443,102,561 Apache sites… which is higher than the number of total sites in the entire Netcraft survey conducted in July 2011.

Between April 2011 and April 2012, nginx's presence on surveyed sites grew by an astounding 197.8 percent, while Apache's grew by 131.8 percent in the same period. Contrast that with IIS, which only grew by 57.1 percent, and Google's 50.0 percent growth, and you can quickly see why the open source web platforms are dominating the marketplace.

Will nginx stay on this course for No. 2? Unless something radically shifts, I believe so. And if this happens, it will be another excellent data point for open source advocates to point to: the clear dominance of open source on the biggest IT platform ever--the Internet.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Zettatag and Open for Discussion blogs and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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