This was 2008, and the company was intent on moving WordPress to software in line with its open source philosophy. The world’s best-known web server, Apache, was the obvious choice, but when engineers started tinkering with the way the software was setup, Apache would crash, especially when WordPress was really busy. “We realized that it wasn’t super-stable under production traffic,” says Barry Abrahamson, a WordPress “systems wrangler” who helped manage the transition.
So Automattic pulled the plug on its Apache migration and bet the company on a then-unknown open source project called Nginx. Five years later, WordPress still runs on Nginx — pronounced “Engine X” — and so many others have followed suit.
At a time when the world’s best-known web servers are losing marketshare, Nginx is growing, fueled by a no-frills philosophy and its knack for handling myriad web connections at the same time. Apache is still the king of all web servers, but use of Nginx has nearly doubled over the past two years, according to internet research outfit Netcraft.