New web servers continued to come online at the end of 2011. According to web server stats vendor Netcraft's January 2012 survey, there are now nearly 583 million sites on the Internet. The January survey figure represents an increase of 27.2 million sites over the December 2011 figures, for a 4.9 percent gain.
The biggest winner in terms of web servers appears to be the open source nginx server. During the past month, nginx added 6.9 million new hostnames. In total, Netcraft's January 2012 survey found just over 56 million hostnames running on nginx, giving the open source web server upstart a 9.63 percent share.
Nginx has emerged in recent years as a faster alternative to Apache HTTP for those looking for a viable open source web server. In October 2011, the commercial Nginx company behind the open source project raised $3 million in funding to help fuel its efforts.
The survey accounts for both the absolute number of hostnames as well as active sites.
On an active site basis, the nginx story is even more impressive. According to Netcraft, nginx is now the second most popular web server for active sites, coming in at a 12.18 percent share. Following very closely behind is Microsoft at 12.14 percent. The leader in terms of active sites remains the open source Apache web server at 57.93 percent.
Nginx's second place position, however, holds true only for the active site category of the Netcraft survey. In terms of total sites, nginx holds a 9.63 percent share -- behind Microsoft at 14.46 percent and Apache at 64.91 percent.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals.