Cloudflare's New Proxy Server, Pingora, Has the Potential to Dethrone Nginx

Cloudflare’s New Proxy Server, Pingora, Has the Potential to Dethrone Nginx

Pingora is a new HTTP proxy server built in-house by Cloudflare with plans to make it open-source in the future.

Few companies can compete with Cloudflare’s experience in serving massive web traffic.

To make things more precise, we’ll say this: Cloudflare handles more than 10% of all HTTP/HTTPS world Internet traffic. Moreover, globally, the Cloudflare network serves over 25 million HTTP requests each second and is used by almost 80% of all the websites that use reverse proxy services.

So, one thing is sure: the company has dealt with colossal traffic loads and has pushed the capabilities of modern technology to their limits.

As a reverse proxy that proxies traffic between the Cloudflare network and servers on the Internet, Nginx has been a vital part of Cloudflare’s architecture – until now.

As Cloudflare has scaled, we’ve outgrown NGINX. It was great for many years, but over time its limitations at our scale meant building something new made sense. We could no longer get the performance we needed, nor did NGINX have the features we needed for our very complex environment.

So, it seems that Nginx’s limit has also been reached, and the company has recently presented its in-house-built solution in search of a superior option. Please meet Pingora, a new HTTP proxy server developed by Cloudflare.

What’s Pingora HTTP Proxy Server

Pingora is a new HTTP proxy server built in-house by Cloudflare, written in Rust programming language. Its development was driven by the need to improve and expand on the functionality offered by Nginx for the demands of the Cloudflare global network.

Pingora HTTP Proxy Server
Image credit: Cloudflare

Why Rust? Because it can achieve what C can do in a memory-safe manner without sacrificing performance. As you are probably aware, even some Linux kernel components are currently being considered for transition to Rust-based development.

According to Cauldflare’s data, Pingora fully meets expectations and outperforms the previously used Nginx in its role as a reverse proxy. Here’s what the numbers show.

Pingora serves over 1 trillion requests per day across the global Cloudflare network. However, compared to Nginx, in production, it shows a 5ms reduction on median TTFB (Time to First Byte). The improved performance is due to Pingora’s new architecture, which allows all threads to share connections.

Moreover, Pingora consumes approximately 70% less CPU and 67% less memory than Cloudflare’s previous solution with the same traffic level. On top of that, Caludfare’s engineers claim that implementing new features into Pingora is significantly easier than in Nginx because of the server’s developer-friendly interface.

These factors lead us to conclude that Pingora has all the characteristics required to dethrone Nginx as the most chosen reverse proxy software.

What Can We Expect from Pingora in the Future?

Now comes when we need to make the most significant clarification possible. As you know, our media only covers free and open source software. However, unfortunately, Pingora is currently a closed-source, internally developed project by Cloudflare.

Therefore, this entire article would not exist without the following statement from the official announcement, which excited us:

We will be back with more technical details regarding the problems we faced, the optimizations we applied, and the lessons we learned from building Pingora and rolling it out to power a significant portion of the Internet. We will also be back with our plan to open source it.

We can only add that we believe that switching Pingora’s code to an open source approach will help it skyrocket its popularity in both the open source and business segments. So, we can’t wait for this to happen and will keep you updated on any changes.

Those interested in learning more about Pingora HTTP Proxy Server can do so by visiting the official Cloudflare announcement.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, Pingora is an exciting project with the potential to change many aspects of the web. But an analogy keeps popping up in our heads as if history repeats itself.

In 2001, Igor Sysoev, dissatisfied with the performance of the Apache Web Server and the design concept upon which it was built, developed his in-house project, especially for the company where he worked. He gave the project the odd abbreviation Nginx.

Three years later, in 2004, the project shifted to an open-source model. The rest is history.

Today, 21 years later, the king of web servers faces the same challenge. Cloudflare’s Pingora HTTP Proxy Server aims to push the boundaries set by Nginx. Will they open-source it and become the new dominant force in web content delivery? We can’t wait to find out.

Bobby Borisov
Bobby Borisov

Bobby is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, Bobby has worked as a Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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