Nginx, SPDY, and Automattic

Yesterday, Valentin Bartenev, a developer at Nginx, Inc., announced SPDY support for the Nginx web server. SPDY is a next-generation networking protocol developed by Google and focused on making the web faster. More information on SPDY can be found on Wikipedia.

At Automattic, we have used Nginx since 2008. Since then, it has made its way into almost every piece of our web infrastructure. We use it for load balancing, image serving (via MogileFS), serving static and dynamic web content, and caching. In fact, we have almost 1000 servers running Nginx today, serving over 100,000 requests per second.

I met Andrew and Igor at WordCamp San Fransicso in 2011.  For the next six months, we discussed the best way for Automattic and Nginx, Inc. to work together. In December 2011, we agreed that Automattic would sponsor the development and integration of SPDY into Nginx. The only real requirement from our end was that the resulting code be released under an open source license so that others could benefit from all the hard work.

For the past 6 months, Valentin and others have been implementing SPDY support in Nginx, and for the past month or so, we have been continually testing SPDY, fixing bugs, and improving stability. Things are almost ready for production and we hope to enable SPDY for all of in the next few weeks. Today, this site is SPDY-enabled if you are using a recent version of Chrome or Firefox and accessing this site over SSL. You can download the Chrome extension here and the one for FireFox here.

Thanks to the Nginx team for all their hard work implementing SPDY, and thanks to all of my Automattic co-workers who helped us test SPDY.  I hope to post some real-world performance numbers in the next few weeks as we complete our SPDY deployment and gather more data. We are also looking forward to SPDY support being part of the official Nginx source in the near future.

“We’d like to say big thanks to the team at Automattic and especially to Pyry Hakulinen who has been great in helping us test and debug this first public version of SPDY module for nginx. Automattic is a great partner, and we will continue to work with Barry and his team on improvements to nginx and to nginx/SPDY in particular.”

Andrew Alexeev – Nginx, Inc.

Author: Barry

To be written by someone famous...

24 thoughts on “Nginx, SPDY, and Automattic”

  1. Reblogged this on Ryan Markel and commented:

    We have the best systems engineers in the world at Automattic. They’re ever better than you think they are because what they do is silent and unnoticeable, like ninjas.

    They just keep the service running solid, day after day.

  2. Note for Chrome users: If you don’t want to install a Chrome extension, you can enter the following into the JavaScript console:

  3. Barry, good to know that automattic is helping nginx evolution.

    But why disabled the spdy and what is the current status after one month of this post?

    btw, i was at wcsf 2011 too, great talk 😉

    1. SPDY is still enabled for this site. We are still working on some stability issues before enabling it more widely. As you can see from the change log there have been quite a few improvements in the past month.

      1. Hey Barry,

        It doesn’t seem to be enabled. Both the chrome extension and scripts to show protocol report false. Are you able to shine some light on this? Is there a reason you’ve disabled spdy?


          1. Ooops, my mistake. We’re working on activating it today on Looks like we’ll have to compile the spdy patch into nginx because it’s not yet in the stable release. Looking forward to testing performance and seeing results.

  4. I just want to thank you for working on this matter. Nginx is great and the SPDY protocol will certainly improve nginx a lot and give it many more years ahead. Hopefully it will become the standard not the exception in the months to come.

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