Any way you look at it, this month’s Netcraft Web Server Survey has some astounding numbers. The competition between Web servers is always interesting, but more so is the fact that the number of sites surveyed since April 2011 has more than doubled. Netcraft’s April 2012 survey received responses from 676,919,707 sites – more than double the number of sites from 2011, a mere 312,693,296.

With that kind of growth, it’s difficult for the major players not to pick up sites. Apache led the pack by picking up 22.8 million sites. Nginx picked up a total of 4.5 million, which is nothing to sneeze at – but it’s less than 20% of what Apache garnered.

Microsoft picked up 3.5 million sites, but that wasn’t enough to keep IIS from slipping in total market share. Microsoft now has 13.66% of the overall market, while Nginx is nipping at its heels with 10.32%. Google keeps plodding along, adding less than a million sites since March 2012, and dropping to 3.26% of the market.

If you look at the figures from 2010 through now, Nginx’s growth is particularly impressive. Nginx had nearly 13 million sites in April 2010 and more than 23 million a year later. This year, Nginx claims nearly 70 million. Will Nginx overtake Apache? It seems unlikely, but the company seems to have a good shot at claiming the second spot by overtaking Microsoft IIS.

Million Busiest Sites

If you look at the million busiest websites, the numbers are pretty similar – though Microsoft actually picked up market share in that category. Microsoft now has nearly 15% of the top sites, while Nginx has picked up enough share to give it just more than 10% of the sites.

Apache actually lost ground, slipping from 62.39% to 62.08%. Likewise, Google slipped from 3.01% to 2.89%.

If you look at the April 2011 survey, you’ll notice that the gain is almost all Nginx. Apache held 66.17% of the million busiest sites and Microsoft had 16.01%, while Nginx was at a mere 6.52%. Google held 2.12% of the busiest sites.

This is good news for the Nginx folks as they hope to sell commercial services to companies deploying Nginx. Many of the sites being counted by Netcraft are parked domains and other sites that aren’t likely to be run by organizations in a position to buy support. The top million, on the other hand, look to be more lucrative.

With Apache 2.4 out, it will be interesting to see how it affects the overall numbers throughout 2012. It will be some time before sites start deploying Apache 2.4 in large numbers – but by late this year, I’d expect to see Apache 2.4 adoption starting.

But, again, take a moment to marvel at the overall growth of the number of sites since this time last year. Since April 2011, more than 364 million host names have been added to the Net. That’s 52 million more sites than were online last year total.