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Protecting corporate internal networks from hackers, thieves, or high load traffic is a common concern. A typical security measure consists of placing an intermediary Web server, known as an HTTP(S) proxy server, between the Internet and the internal network for controlling access. Such an intermediary Web server forwards HTTP(S) requests from clients to other servers, making those requests look like they originated from the proxy server and vice versa (reverse proxy).
Malicious users or excessive traffic load are just two good reasons for controlling access to internal servers. More generally, they are two application scenarios of the well-known structural design pattern Proxy, or Surrogate, whose intent, according to the Gang of Four, (GoF) is to "provide a surrogate or placeholder for another object to control access to it." Obviously such a surrogate adds a cost in terms of complexity. Complex systems are more difficult to understand and any modification is made harder by added complexity. So, why should we pay such a complexity fee? Typical reasons are:
When such complexity is necessary in an application, PippoProxy, a Java HTTP proxy designed and implemented for Tomcat, can be used in place of standard Apache-Tomcat solutions. This article presents the rationale behind the development of PippoProxy, the need for this type of proxy, and its advantages over more traditional proxies. In addition, PippoProxy's typical deployment scenarios and comparison benchmarks to more traditional solutions are presented.
The standard Apache-Tomcat proxy configuration places an Apache (proxy) HTTP server before the Tomcat application servers in a "neutral zone" between the company's private network and the Internet (or some other outside public network) for secure access to the company's private data. This proxy server also acts as a load balancer and as a server of static content. Figure 1 shows such a configuration scenario.
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