Application Delivery Blog

The Honest Avi Networks and NGINX Comparison

Chris Heggem
Posted on Sep 3, 2019 9:17:31 AM

Avi Networks was acquired by VMware in July 2019 and the Avi Vantage Platform is now known as NSX Advanced Load Balancer (ALB). But that hasn’t stopped people from talking about Avi Networks — especially competitor F5 Networks and their recent open-source acquisition NGINX. They have been known to spread misinformation when it comes to Avi Networks and NGINX comparisons of features and capabilities.

Debunking NGINX Plus Advantages

For the past few years, F5 and NGINX have spread FUD and falsehoods about Avi Networks because we were the fastest-growing multi-cloud load balancing solution on the market. Thankfully, enterprises bought Avi for superior load balancing instead of buying into some of these false claims. Customers conducted rigorous due diligence and thoroughly evaluated load balancing solutions before choosing Avi Networks vs F5 80% of the time.

Now the narrative from F5 and NGINX has become even more confusing, contradictory, and dishonest:

  • “We don’t see Avi Networks very often.” We compete directly in every enterprise account.
  • “Avi is used by smaller companies.” We sell exclusively to large enterprises.
  • “We like our win rate against Avi.” We win 80% of head-to-head evaluations.
  • “Avi’s performance is better than F5 because it is built on NGINX.” Better? True. Built on NGINX? False.
  • “Actually, we ran a test that shows NGINX Plus is better than Avi.” The test is a sham.

The recent latency “test” between Avi and NGINX Plus is especially disingenuous, for several reasons:

  1. Apples vs. Oranges. The Avi load balancer has many enterprise-grade features, including advanced telemetry and observability for better application analytics, which are compute-intensive. NGINX features do not include this, so you’re flying blind. The test performs as you would expect when you constrain a more advanced, compute-intensive solution to the resource requirements of a lightweight load balancer.
  2. Pets (NGINX) vs. Cattle (Avi). NGINX implements the legacy approach to load balancing that requires care and feeding for each of their instances, which is why they need to highlight the performance of a single instance. Avi is a load balancing fabric. We value the performance of the whole, which is greater than the sum of our individual service engines. Only Avi can automate horizontal scale seamlessly. This allows us to support the world’s largest deployments in financial services, e-commerce, and tech. And when right-sized appropriately (see my previous point), Avi is the only solution that lets customers have their cake and eat it too.
  3. Instance Manager vs. Controller. NGINX fundamentally does not understand the function or value of a controller. Avi has a controller. NGINX has an instance manager. NGINX touts their decoupled “controller” as an advantage when it truly is their Achilles’ Heel. If the load balancers can operate independently of the “controller”, then you still need to manage each load balancing instance manually (pets, remember?). The Avi Controller is the brain of the whole operation. It is separate from the data plane but coupled. The Avi Controller manages the load balancing fabric — so you don’t have to — in order to provide unprecedented performance, efficiency, and scale by leveraging deep automation powered by our analytics engine. NGINX’s claims about Avi’s architecture (e.g. OS selection and security) are not only untrue, but highlight their lack of understanding of modern software-defined solutions.

To set the record straight when it comes to Avi vs NGINX, we encourage every enterprise to have a bake-off. You determine the environments, use cases, and metrics that matter most to you and let our experts show you how we can deliver better results across the board.

Each company has unique load balancing needs. So you owe it to yourself to find the best load balancing solution for all your applications and environments. Schedule a demo or contact us for a POC.

And if history is any indication, I’m 80% sure you’ll choose Avi (VMware NSX ALB). And 100% sure you won’t choose NGINX Plus.


Topics: load balancer, Application Delivery Controller, software-defined load balancing, software load balancing, Multi-cloud Load Balancing

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