Optimizely Uses NGINX Plus to Streamline Its Tech Stack

Optimizely’s Digital Experience Platform (DXP) provides businesses with a suite of digital solutions and marketing tools to increase revenue by better engaging existing and potential customers. The goal is to reduce customer acquisition costs by providing personalized and relevant content.

Optimizely Campaign enables customers to run automated marketing campaigns using email, mobile push, web push, SMS, and other channels. Combined with the Optimizely Data Platform, Campaign can also be used to shape and drive marketing campaigns based on insights and observations derived from aggregated customer engagement data.

To date, Optimizely’s 900+ partners and 1,800+ employees have helped more than 9,000 brands—including Toyota, Santander, eBay, KLM, and Mazda—enrich their customer lifetime value, increase revenue, and grow their brands.

Business Challenge

Optimizely wanted to simplify the technical platform of its Campaign product and, thereby, increase efficiency from an operational and maintenance perspective. The platform was previously using both Apache web servers and F5 NGINX Open Source. Although NGINX Open Source replicates many of the functions of the Apache web servers, it did not support Optimizely’s dynamic, high scale load balancing requirements.

The existing architecture meant that Optimizely had to analyze several different elements of the solution and multiple logs to troubleshoot problems. That could be a time consuming task, as the three node NGINX web cluster serving campaign related use cases typically handles peak traffic of 15,000 requests per second and a monthly data volume of about 500 TB.


At the end of 2021, Optimizely decided to simplify its architecture by upgrading from NGINX Open Source to F5 NGINX Plus, a supported enterprise grade solution, thereby enabling it to remove the Apache web servers. 

NGINX Plus is a cloud native, easy-to-use reverse proxy, load balancer, and API gateway. In addition to being the fastest web server on the market and retaining the best elements of NGINX Open Source, it provides enterprise grade load balancing with session persistence, active health checks, and dynamic reconfiguration without needing a server restart. This means intelligent, high scale load balancing of HTTP, TCP, and UDP traffic is far easier to achieve, irrespective of infrastructure. 

“We needed dynamic load balancing, and NGINX Plus stood out as a high performing and very user friendly product,” enthuses Eric Hubert, Director of Software Engineering for Optimizely’s Campaign platform. “NGINX Plus RESTful APIs enabled us to easily integrate load balancing control into our deployment automation solution. By removing the Apache web servers, we achieved a lean system architecture that works smoothly.”


Simpler operation, monitoring, and maintenance

NGINX Plus ensures Optimizely has fewer systems to operate and maintain. This simplicity combined with a clearly arranged monitoring dashboard avoids redundant log data and enables faster problem analysis.

“Because it’s now just a simpler stack in terms of monitoring and observability, you have a cleaner picture. There’s now one system less in the chain that can break and it’s much easier to configure, which is a big advantage for us,” says Eric.

Lower operational costs

Other notable benefits include cost savings from reduced resource requirements and minimized processing latency.

A more responsive, secure, and stable system

As they need to comply with privacy and data protection regulations, Optimizely’s customers are looking for the system to provide highly secure solutions. 

“For all the systems which are directly customer facing, security is extremely important and obviously, the web servers are at the front,” notes Eric. 

Crucially, NGINX Plus helps Optimizely keep up with a continually evolving threat landscape through regular, quality assured software and security updates. This means the IT team doesn’t need to manually validate which open source version to use.

Key product features include request and connection limiting, TLS 1.3 support, dynamic certificate loading, and JWT authentication.

“It was very important for us to be able to adapt to the latest security threats,” Eric explains. “NGINX Plus does exactly that. We can have quality assured versions and apply them consistently on the platform, which is easier than on the open source track, where you always need to look at what is inside.” 

Optimizely is considering employing some of the other additional features in NGINX Plus, such as the ability to shape traffic and limit specific kinds of traffic.

As a partner of NGINX, techmatrix consulting GmbH was responsible for the allocation of the licenses for the customer. For this, the need for NGINX licenses was carefully checked in advance together with Optimizely.

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Optimizely logo
  • Upgrading to F5 NGINX Plus allowed Optimizely to simplify its architecture and streamline operations, with fewer systems to negotiate and maintain
  • A powerful monitoring dashboard simplified observability and enabled faster problem analysis
  • The simplified platform resulted in a more responsive, secure, and stable system for customers

  • Optimizely wanted to simplify its existing architecture, which contained technology elements that replicated many functions
  • Troubleshooting problems required analyzing multiple elements of the platform and examining multiple data logs
  • Operating redundant technologies resulted in higher infrastructure costs