New figures have shown that many websites may be exploring alternative options for their web server software in the last month, as solutions from Microsoft and Nginx have gained ground at the expense of Apache. This is according to NetCraft's latest survey of web servers, which evaluated almost 650 million sites from around the world.
It found a surprisingly sharp drop for Apache in March, with 9.9 million domains turning to other solutions. This equated to a drop of almost three percentage points in its market share - although the technology still accounts for over half of web servers.
According to Netcraft, one of the main reasons for the bigger than usual drop was the movement of a large affiliate referral network to Nginx. This consisted of around eight million sites, which helped the open-source platform climb to 14.81% of sites. However, this wasn't enough for it to overhaul Microsoft IIS, which held on to second place as it improved its own market share by 1.95 percentage points to just under 20%.
One reason why Nginx might be gaining ground in the web server market because it's said to offer fast, reliable performance, which makes it more suitable than Apache for efficiency serving static content, while it also has low memory usage, so is a great choice for businesses looking to keep their resource use to a minimum or run several sites on virtual private servers.
While it doesn't have the wide range of advanced features of Apache, it's often the case that for the functionality it does have, it can perform tasks much quicker than its main open-source alternative.
Cyber threats rise in prominence
Netcraft's survey also highlighted another key trend that has been growing in the web server space is that of cyber attacks. It noted this is gaining media attention because it's not just criminals targeting companies anymore. Instead, the biggest threats are coming from sovereign states, with cyber attacks in particular playing a role in the rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.