What is a NGINX reverse proxy and why you need one

You may have heard of it’s older brother – a forward proxy. A forward proxy server is a go‑between or intermediary server that forwards requests for content from multiple clients to different servers across the Internet. A reverse proxy server is a type of proxy server that typically sits behind the firewall in a private network and directs client requests to one or more application servers.

Common uses for a reverse proxy server include:

  • Load balancing – A reverse proxy server can act as a “traffic cop,” sitting in front of your backend servers and distributing client requests across a group of servers in a manner that maximizes speed and capacity utilization while ensuring no one server is overloaded, which can degrade performance. If a server goes down, the load balancer redirects traffic to the remaining online servers.
  • Web acceleration – Reverse proxies can compress inbound and outbound data, as well as cache commonly requested content, both of which speed up the flow of traffic between clients and servers. They can also perform additional tasks such as SSL encryption to take load off of your web servers, thereby boosting their performance. In particular, we often use reverse proxies to provide SSL protection to application servers that cannot provide SSL themselves – (e.g. based on node.js, which is used for a number of popular systems including ArchiCAD and BIM).
  • Security and anonymity – By handling requests before they reach your backend servers, a reverse proxy server protects their identities and acts as an additional defense against security attacks. It also ensures that multiple servers can be accessed from a single record locator or URL regardless of the structure of your local area network.

How Can NGINX Help?

NGINX is the best‑in‑class reverse‑proxy solutions used by high‑traffic websites such as Dropbox, Netflix, and Zynga. More than 358 million websites worldwide, including the majority of the 100,000 busiest websites, rely on some version or derivative of NGINX to deliver their content quickly, reliably, and securely.

As a software‑based reverse proxy, not only is NGINX less expensive than hardware‑based solutions with similar capabilities, it can be deployed in the public cloud as well as in private data centers, whereas cloud infrastructure vendors generally do not allow customer or proprietary hardware reverse proxies in their data centers.