CUSTOMER STORY

Nextiva Greatly Improves Network and Application Performance with NGINX Plus and NGINX Controller

BENEFITS

Drastically Reduced Architectural Complexity

Improved Server Management and Reduced Downtime

Better Application and Service Performance

CHALLENGES

Complex Maintenance Needs

Costly Security Updates

No Centralized Management Tool

Nextiva is a business communications company dedicated to empowering organizations to manage their communications, productivity, and customer relationships on a truly unified platform. They provide a variety of connected communication tools for businesses around the world, including Voice over IP (VoIP) phone service, CRM, surveys, online chat, collaboration tools, analytics, and fax services.

The Challenge

Nextiva prides itself on providing the highest level of service to its many customers who rely on them for phone, fax, and other critical business communication channels. But with a geographically distributed architecture spanning eight data centers across the United States, managing the complexity of server deployment, patching, and upgrading was proving troublesome and costly.

With an existing NGINX Plus footprint of 30 instances, it became clear that addressing the maintenance of individual NGINX Plus installations, such as monthly updates to comply with internal security requirements, wasn’t efficient. Also, it was difficult to test or roll out new product features and updates without a centralized tool. And there were components within the network architecture, such as HAProxy and load balancers, which didn’t have features such as session persistence that Nextiva system administrators needed to improve the overall performance of their services. With their NGINX Plus infrastructure serving more than a billion requests every hour (and growing), it was critical for Nextiva to have control over the entire footprint, regardless of geographic location.

“When your company delivers mission critical applications like VoIP, network performance and complexity are big concerns. We can’t have downtime when patching servers. We can’t have bottlenecks caused by servers choking on traffic. To continue to delight our customers with new products or features and great service, we need core components in the network like our load balancers, proxies, and API endpoints to be easily updated and super resilient.”

The Solution

To improve overall network efficiency and performance, as well as limit user downtime, Nextiva system engineers needed a way to centrally manage the entire NGINX Plus footprint. The existing method of individually managing instances was creating additional complexity and costing valuable time. NGINX Controller solves this problem by enabling the engineers to deploy security patches and upgrades to any instance from a centralized dashboard, thereby greatly reducing the resources needed to maintain the network and ensure compliance with internal security requirements.

But Controller also enables Nextiva to monitor the performance, usage, and other metrics of individual NGINX Plus servers across the entire footprint through a single view. For Nextiva, this is critical functionality, especially with NGINX Plus performing multiple functions on the network including:

  • Relaying server-to-server mutual TLS (mTLS) traffic between applications
  • Serving as the edge source in the DMZ for distributing VoIP phone configurations
  • Handling softphone application and reverse proxy traffic
  • Helping filter unwanted traffic

In addition, with Controller Nextiva can leverage NGINX Plus to dynamically provision production‑like development environments quickly and easily. This enables DevOps to deploy code in real time and iterate on possible improvements to products or core services without affecting actual customers, significantly reducing time-to-market for critical features and fixes. And Controller’s API management capabilities provide a powerful platform for managing deployment and security of the APIs used by both internal systems and external customers.

Finally, as NGINX Plus has replaced other third‑party components, like HAProxy and Apache HTTP Server, Nextiva system engineers are noticing significant overall improvement in network and application performance.

"I was surprised by the different ways that NGINX Plus could be used. We’ve been introduced to a number of different applicable use cases for NGINX Plus. We are excited to see how it can be employed across our business to further help us reduce complexity and improve performance and resiliency."

The Results

Drastically Reduced Architectural Complexity

To meet the functionality and performance demands of its core services, Nextiva needed to employ several different technologies throughout its networks. Nextiva had been using HAProxy for caching and Apache HTTP Server for application delivery. Though these two applications provided critical features, they also significantly complicated the overall architecture, making management more complex, requiring more resources, and degrading overall performance. By consolidating functionality, NGINX Plus has enabled the Nextiva systems engineers to replace all HAProxy and Apache instances, significantly reducing the number of network components in the company’s geographically distributed architecture.

Improved Management and Reduced Downtime

Since adopting NGINX Controller, Nextiva systems engineers have seen a significant improvement in the overall efficiency of their operations. Because they no longer need to update and patch NGINX Plus instances individually, they can apply technical resources to other mission‑critical projects. With the built‑in management capabilities of NGINX Controller, Nextiva engineers are also able to deploy updates, such as security patches that need to be applied every 30 days for internal compliance, in real time without any service or application downtime, as well as dynamically spin up development instances. This ensures customers can access the products they pay for while the network resources required for application and service delivery remain up to date.

Better Application and Service Performance

As part of its service architecture, Nextiva employed Apache to handle the delivery of application resources and HAProxy for caching. And although each technology could provide needed functionality, the combination of multiple components within the application response chain added unnecessary latency. After Nextiva system engineers consolidated functionality from these other components into NGINX Plus, they saw significant improvements in service performance. NGINX Plus instances handling softphone applications and other end‑user traffic have been configured to handle well over a billion requests per hour.

About Nextiva

Nextiva is a business communications company dedicated to empowering organizations to manage their communications, productivity, and customer relationships on a truly unified platform.