Reverse proxy

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A reverse proxyis a proxy server that is installed within the neighborhood of one or more servers. Typically, reverse proxies are used in front of Web servers. All connections coming from the Internet addressed to one of the Web servers are routed through the proxy server, which may either deal with the request itself or pass the request wholly or partially to the main web servers.

A reverse proxy dispatches in-bound network traffic to a set of servers, presenting a single interface to the caller. For example, a reverse proxy could be used for Load balancing a cluster of web servers.

There are several reasons for installing reverse proxy servers:

  • Security: the proxy server may provide an additional layer of defense by separating or masquerading the type of server that is behind the reverse proxy. This configuration may protect the servers further up the chain - mainly through obfuscation.
  • Load balancer: the reverse proxy can distribute the load to several servers, each server serving its own application area. In the case of reverse proxying in the neighborhood of Web servers, the reverse proxy may have to rewrite the URLs in each webpage (translation from externally known URLs to the internal locations).
  • Caching static content: A reverse proxy can offload the Web servers by caching static content, such as images. Proxy caches of this sort can often satisfy a considerable amount of website requests, greatly reducing the load on the central web server. Sometimes referred to as a Web accelerator.
  • Compression: the proxy server can optimize and compress the content to speed up the load time.
  • Spoon feeding: a dynamically generated page can be produced all at once and served to the reverse-proxy, which can then return it to the client a little bit at a time. The program that generates the page is not forced to remain open and tying up server resources during the possibly extended time the client requires to complete the transfer.

See also

  • Varnish is a modern open source reverse proxy.
  • Squid is a proxy server software that may be installed in a reverse proxy configuration.
  • The Apache HTTP Server may be extended with mod_proxy to be used as a reverse proxy; a caching proxy server may be configured using the mod_cache module in conjunction with mod_proxy
  • Perlbal is a Perl-based reverse proxy load balancer and web server.
  • Lighttpd can be used as a reverse proxy with load balancing capabilities.
  • Nginx Web and Reverse proxy server.