Viability of nginx instead of hardware load balancer?

Ilan Berkner iberkner at
Wed Sep 16 00:42:26 MSD 2009

We are currently running Nginx as a front end LB to a single PHP App
Server.  When we need a bit more horse power, I can divert traffic to the LB
itself to process PHP requests with a minor change in the config.

We are serving close to 2mm page views a day and growing.  The Nginx
configuration is a dual core, dual CPU AMD processor system, 32 bit with 8GB
of RAM.  We are also using it for delivery of static assets (everything
except PHP).  The CPU utilization on the box at peak is below 3% and nginx
processing 3000+ connections at any given time.

I also configured the PHP app server as a Nginx server and it serves as a
backup in case the primary nginx server fails.

I'm very happy with the confguration, adding another PHP app server will be
a breeze, although session management is going to be difficult.

On Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 4:16 PM, Gena Makhomed <gmm at> wrote:

> On Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 18:19:38, David Murphy wrote:
> DM> Not sure if this is possible ( as I haven't tried it)
> DM> but what about building  nginx on Damn Small Linux and having
> DM> a boot cd  or ramdisk, or even  boot flash.  You could literally take
> DM> something like  a   PowerEdge 1425 or so and have a kicking
> minimalistic
> DM> LB  hardware running on nginx.
> DSL - Desktop OS, linux distro for i486 with 2.4.x linux kernel,
> optimized for minimal RAM usage and old computers.
> no linux 2.6.x kernel - means no "epoll" at all.
> therefore - DSL is totally useless for high traffic load balancer as base
> OS.
> DM> Technically if you were so inclined, you could even  write  DSL and
> nginx
> DM> to a prom chip so its  100% automated, I'm better if nginx  does
> everything
> DM> you need it would be a lot cheaper than the hardware normal route with
> the
> DM> same if not better stability.
> question was not about most cheaper "solution", but about "high traffic
> LB".
> DM> Personally what I would do is  (assuming you have ESX), run 2  VM's
>  both
> DM> running  nginx on dedicated NICs. Then one your switching set up an
> DM> active/active fail over to those nice ( and have the VM's on separate
> DM> hosts).
> DM> You would then have a fully redundant LB system so if nginx on one node
> DM> crashes the fail over would route all traffic  to  the other  LB.
> if, for example, crashes mainboard of esx server with these VM's -
> both VM's go down. so, this is not "a fully redundant LB system".
> hardware of ESX server is "single point of failure".
> --
> Best regards,
>  Gena
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