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Reverse proxies

A reverse proxy is a server that sits between the end-user requesting information from your site and the VIP application that serves the content. Most VIP applications do not require them, but if yours does, there are a few technical requirements and considerations to take into account before you implement one.

The first question to ask is whether you truly need a reverse proxy. Here are a few common use cases.

Note

Some security features aren’t available on sites that use reverse proxies in front of VIP Go.

Common use cases for reverse proxies

VIP is one of many applications on your domain

If you run example.com outside of VIP, and your VIP application serves a resource within example.com, like https://example.com/blog/, then you will need a reverse proxy. It should be configured to forward all requests for /blog/ to the VIP application in order to return the correct content back to example.com.

The reverse of that scenario is also possible: where example.com is your VIP application but example.com/blog/ is for a resource hosted elsewhere. You’ll need a reverse proxy to forward /blog/ to the outside resource and all other requests to VIP.

Requests for your domain are terminated before reaching VIP

You run example.com on VIP but use a CDN to route requests correctly based on the end user’s physical location. To accomplish this, you need a reverse proxy in front of the VIP application that terminates the connection to example.com and routes requests appropriately. If this is your use case, we strongly encourage you to consider doing this routing through VIP rather than adding an additional layer of complexity by introducing a CDN.

Requests require rewriting the URL to reach the VIP resource

Finally, you may have a resource on example.com like /abc/ and you need it to resolve to your VIP Go application at /def/. This is called URL transformation and is among the most complex reverse proxy scenarios. For that reason, we strongly encourage you to avoid URL transformation.

Why you don’t need a reverse proxy

Employing a reverse proxy introduces complexity to your application. We encourage you not to use one unless you are sure it’s necessary.

Caching or page speed

VIP provides built-in caching and performance features including load balancing and a globally distributed cache. You do not need a reverse proxy to facilitate any of this, it is built-in to your application. Adding this layer may ultimately reduce the performance of your site.

Additionally, it is likely that at least some of your site’s users will be routed suboptimally, negatively affecting page speed. This is because your proxy will stand in front of our globally distributed edge cache network. The user will be routed to the proxy and then to the VIP node closest to the proxy.

Support efficiency

Even the simplest reverse proxy configuration will increase complexity because of the additional layer of functionality outside the VIP application. This may cause difficulties for developers supporting the application in the long term. VIP will have more difficulty debugging issues that arise, especially if they are related to the proxy connection. In some cases, we may need to communicate with the reverse proxy provider.

We’re happy to help you weigh the benefits of using a reverse proxy, and we already support many sites which use this functionality to support their business requirements.

Last updated: April 09, 2021