A reverse proxy is a web server that centralizes internal services and provides unified interfaces to the public. Requests from clients are forwarded to a server that can fulfill it before the reverse proxy returns the server’s response to the client.
Additional benefits include:
- Increased security – Hide information about backend servers, blacklist IPs, limit number of connections per client
- Increased scalability and flexibility – Clients only see the reverse proxy’s IP, allowing you to scale servers or change their configuration
- SSL termination – Decrypt incoming requests and encrypt server responses so backend servers do not have to perform these potentially expensive operations
- Removes the need to install X.509 certificates on each server
- Compression – Compress server responses
- Caching – Return the response for cached requests
- Static content – Serve static content directly
Load balancer vs reverse proxy
- Deploying a load balancer is useful when you have multiple servers. Often, load balancers route traffic to a set of servers serving the same function.
- Reverse proxies can be useful even with just one web server or application server, opening up the benefits described in the previous section.
- Solutions such as NGINX and HAProxy can support both layer 7 reverse proxying and load balancing.
Disadvantage(s): reverse proxy
- Introducing a reverse proxy results in increased complexity.
- A single reverse proxy is a single point of failure, configuring multiple reverse proxies (ie a failover) further increases complexity.
Source(s) and further reading
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