NGINX Is the Foundation of Modern App Performance

Gus Robertson Thumbnail
Gus Robertson
Published April 18, 2021

Exceptional application performance isn’t possible without the right foundation, one that provides – at minimum! – security, reliability, accuracy, visibility, control, and automation. For us at NGINX, building and optimizing that foundation has been our core mission for 20 years. Whether you’ve been with us since Day 1 or only since yesterday, our focus on helping you to build and deliver fast modern apps is at the heart of our plan for our future, and yours.

Supporting the App’s Hierarchy of Needs

You might remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from Psych 101. Dr. Maslow outlines five levels of human needs – starting with basic physical needs (air, food, shelter) and culminating in the desire to reach one’s full potential – and proposes that more basic needs must be met before we can devote attention and energy to higher‑level needs.

I’ve been saying for several years now that successful modern apps need to be adaptable like living organisms, so I think it’s natural to apply the construct of a hierarchy of needs to healthy, valuable, and enlightened digital infrastructure too. As people and apps grow, change, and evolve, this holistic perspective allows for flexibility in which different needs take precedence at a given time. In this diagram we extend Maslow’s hierarchy for humans to address the needs of a fast, secure modern app:

How NGINX Helps Support the Modern App’s Hierarchy of Needs

While many people know NGINX as a web server, reverse proxy, or even a load balancer, what we’ve achieved in the almost two years since F5 acquired us – and particularly during the COVID‑19 pandemic as the exploding dependency on apps has strained corporate and public infrastructure alike – has proven that NGINX technology continues to grow beyond those capabilities and support applications as they evolve from simple web apps to complex, distributed microservices. To grow our ability to help NGINX customers and community deliver applications, we’ve focused on three main areas. Here’s how they correlate with the foundational three layers of the hierarchy of app needs – Delivery, Security, and Performance:


The first layer of our app needs hierarchy is Delivery. This includes routing and load balancing traffic to meet the most basic need: connecting users to your app. NGINX has released several new capabilities to meet application delivery needs:

  • NGINX Ingress Controller as a standalone solution. Kubernetes users have been configuring NGINX Open Source and NGINX Plus as an Ingress controller for years. We’ve now packaged NGINX Ingress Controller as a stand‑alone offering for a simpler “out-of-the-box” Kubernetes experience.
  • Integration between BIG‑IP and NGINX Ingress Controller. The thousands of enterprises that rely on F5 BIG‑IP can now augment their existing investment to provide self‑service access to developers and DevOps teams that are extending apps with modern functionality like CI/CD.
  • NGINX Controller and NGINX Instance Manager [now combined as F5 NGINX Management Suite]. Our control‑plane offerings help you manage your entire NGINX infrastructure with a single management layer, so you can stop tinkering and start scaling.


Once you’ve connected your users and apps, you need to make sure the connection is secure. No one can afford to have data breached, flaws exploited, or privacy disregarded. Security is almost as foundational as pure delivery, and F5’s industry‑leading security expertise is one of its biggest contributions to NGINX growth. Recent security enhancements include:

  • NGINX Ingress resources. NGINX Ingress resources complement the standard Kubernetes Ingress resource. They enable greater customization and control of traffic management without use of annotations, ConfigMaps, and custom templates which are error‑prone, difficult to use, not secure, and lack fine‑grained scoping.
  • Integration of NGINX App Protect with NGINX Ingress Controller. Embedding the NGINX App Protect web application firewall (WAF) in NGINX Ingress Controller accelerates automation of application security by securing the app perimeter, while reducing complexity and points of failure by consolidating data‑plane tools. You can configure the integrated WAF with the Kubernetes API as well as delegate control over app‑specific WAFs to DevOps teams with a native WAF Policy object.
  • NGINX Service Mesh. A free service mesh based on NGINX Plus that manages both ingress and egress (north‑south) traffic and service-to-service (east‑west) traffic in a single configuration.
  • Integration of F5 Device ID+ with NGINX Plus (coming soon). This real‑time device identifier utilizes machine learning algorithms to strengthen application security by detecting or blocking known bad devices, and to enhance user experience by unlocking superior performance and customization for known devices.


Your users can now access your app. The connection is secure. The next foundational need to mee is speed. If your app stumbles, users will abandon you for the next app in the store. Here’s what NGINX is doing to provide high performance apps:

Getting Started with Addressing Your Modern App Needs

NGINX and F5 are committed to taking care of all of our community and customers’ needs with new and improved platforms, features, and partnerships for the clear benefit of Infrastructure and Developer teams. That includes needs at the Insights and Business Value levels of the hierarchy; I haven’t discussed them here, but be assured our roadmap includes solutions for them too. To learn more, tune into my keynote at F5 Agility 2021 on Tuesday, April 20 at 8:00 a.m. PDT (4:00 p.m. BST) and again on Wednesday, April 21 at 9:00 a.m. SGT for the convenience of viewers in APCJ.

The three days (April 20–22) of Agility, our free, virtual user event, are jam‑packed with great content. Register and check out all the breakout sessions, discussion forums, lightning sessions, interactive demos, and labs.

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