Reverse Proxy vs. Load Balancer
A reverse proxy receives a client request, forwards it to a suitable server, and returns the server’s respond. A load balancer transmits client requests among a group of servers, returning each server’s response to the appropriate client.
Client-server computing architecture includes devices such as reverse proxy servers and load balancers. Both serve as communication bridges between clients and servers, facilitating communication and increasing productivity. They can be implemented as dedicated hardware, but software applications running on commodity hardware are becoming more common in modern web architectures.
But they sound pretty similar, don’t they? Both types of applications sit between clients and servers, receiving requests from the former and responding to them. It’s no surprise that people are confused about the difference between a reverse proxy and a load balancer.
To help distinguish them, let’s look at when and why they’re typically used on a web page
Load balancers are used when a site’s request volume is too high for a single server to tackle. By spreading the load across multiple servers, the website becomes more reliable.
Most servers host the same information, and the load balancer’s job is to transfer the workload so that each server’s capacity is maximized, no server is overloaded, and the client receives the fastest response possible.
A load balancer can also improve the user experience by decreasing error responses. It does this by recognizing server failures and redirecting requests to other servers in the group. In the simplest case, the load balancer intercepts error responses to regular requests. To deem a server healthy, the load balancer offers separate health-check requests to each server.
Session consistency is another feature of some load balancers, which ensures that all requests from such a single client will go to the identical server. Even though HTTP is stateless in theory, many applications require state information to function properly – think of an e-commerce site’s shopping basket.
These applications perform poorly or fail in a load-balanced surrounding if the load balancer shares requests across servers instead of sending them all to the same server.
Unlike a load balancer, a reverse proxy can be used with just one web or application connection. The reverse proxy is a website’s “public face.” Its address is the website’s advertised address, and it sits at the site’s network’s edge, accepting requests for content from web portal and smart phone apps. It has two advantages:
- Enhanced security – No data about your backend connections is visible outside your internal network, preventing malicious clients from directly accessing them. By denying traffic from specified clients IP addresses (blacklisting) and restricting the amount of connections authorized from each client, these capabilities help to protect backend servers against DDoS attacks.
- Because clients only see the reverse proxy’s IP address, you can alter the configuration of your backend infrastructure. This is very helpful. In load-balanced surroundings, you can adjust the number of connections to match traffic fluctuations.
Load balancer vs Reverse Proxy
Load balancer vs Reverse Proxy
Load balancing: Distributes the total load on a website across multiple servers using hardware or software. Load balancing algorithms should be chosen so that they maximize each server’s capacity and provide results quickly.
The 3 types of load balancers are as follows:
- DNS Round Robin.
- L3/L4 Load Balancer (which works on the IP and TCP layers).
- L7 Load Balancer.
Load balancers distribute load using a variety of algorithms, including IP Hash, Least Connection, Round Robin, and Least Traffic.
Reverse Proxy: They serve as a gateway through which web traffic must pass, acting as the website’s public face. A reverse proxy’s main job is to:
- They provide security by acting as a barrier between your web server and the outside world. The backend is shielded from direct user interaction, which enhances the overall system’s security.
- With web acceleration, it’s possible to reduce response time by using features like caching, SSL encrypting, and Compressing
- Flexibility: As the client can only access the reverse proxy, changes to the backend architecture become easier.
Even if you only have one server in your system, a reverse proxy can still be useful in some situations. In such cases, load balancers are not required, but a reverse proxy can still be beneficial in providing security, flexibility, and web acceleration, among other things.