Web Server Load Balancing with NGINX Plus


MemberCentral provides customer management software for associations such as the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, the International Association of Compounding Pharmacists, and the California Society of Association Executives. These groups rely on MemberCentral to consolidate their web assets and tools, such as website CMS, accounting, email marketing, e‑community tools, job boards, and membership dues collection into a single web‑based platform. With millions of users around the world, MemberCentral’s large hosting presence requires round-the-clock access at scale, while fitting into tight budgets and even tighter data‑center space requirements.


Aaron Terry, Vice President of Development at MemberCentral, said that the team was having problems with its hardware load balancers. The two 1U rack‑mounted devices had topped off the company’s allotted data center space, yet were incapable of handling the high amount of traffic its web applications were receiving.

With so many users requiring secure access to the company’s services, MemberCentral decided to offload SSL/TLS termination to a separate system. Replacing the expensive hardware load balancers was the ideal solution, but any solution had to be implemented within the confines of the already completely filled data‑center rack leased by MemberCentral.


Terry and his team decided to use NGINX for SSL/TLS offloading. “The hardware load balancer was having a problem with the number of sites that we host, and having to store the certificate and terminate the IP address for all of those hundreds of sites. We had great success with NGINX Open Source,” as an SSL/TLS endpoint, says Terry. But the expensive hardware load balancers remained a bottleneck in the system.

We were still having problems with our hardware load balancer, so we upgraded to NGINX Plus, and were able to completely eliminate the hardware load balancers. We have been much more stable ever since then.
– Aaron Terry, Vice President of Development at MemberCentral

This is not a story of replacing one high‑powered rack‑mounted server with another, however. Terry and his team installed two Intel NUCs – low‑powered, consumer‑oriented, sandwich‑sized computers which cost under $400 each – into the full MemberCentral rack. They then logged in remotely and installed NGINX Plus.

“We were actually able to deploy that into our infrastructure on those small devices, so we didn’t have to use up much rack space. And we were able to take out two 1U load balancers and replace them with those two small devices. You couldn’t really ask for much more than that,” says Terry.


Terry affirms that MemberCentral has remained a loyal NGINX customer ever since deploying NGINX Plus. “We’ve been customers here for a couple years and we’ve had an amazing experience. We are looking for ways to implement NGINX and leverage it in more ways. We’re actually looking to use it as the web server at our application layer as well, instead of just on the edge. So we’re looking at ways we can further integrate with NGINX.”

About MemberCentral

MemberCentral offers multiple web services to associations, such as industry groups for pharmacists, lawyers, and executives. The firm provides CRM, web hosting, membership management systems, and services to help run events. The company is based in Austin, Texas, and has been rapidly iterating on its feature offerings.


Hardware load balancers weren’t able to handle high demand from end users.


MemberCentral is a worldwide customer relationship management platform for associations.

Austin, Texas
Founded in 2008
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