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Deploying Forward Proxy Caching in Enterprise and ISP Networks

Dive into proxy deployment through exploring nontransparent deployment, transparent deployment, and security and access control issues.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Typical proxy users include individual departments such as academic units of a university, entire enterprises, and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). In this chapter, we discuss various alternatives for deploying forward proxy caching in enterprise and ISP networks. The general problem considered here is a mechanism to deliver a client request to the proxy instead of the origin server specified in the requested URL.

8.1 Overview of Internet Connectivity Architectures

Before discussing alternatives for proxy deployment, we need to understand at a high level how an enterprise obtains its Internet connectivity. Consider Figure 8.1, which depicts at a high level a typical ISP architecture. A large ISP has a backbone network consisting of backbone nodes. Each node has some access routers (ARs) that are the backbone entry points for enterprise customers of the ISP (such as other ISPs) and backbone routers (BRs) that provide connectivity between backbone nodes. Access routers are connected to their local backbone routers via LANs. Backbone routers in different nodes are connected via wide area network (WAN) lines, creating the backbone topology. In addition, some backbone nodes contain gateway routers (GRs) that link the backbone to the outside world. On the ISP side, GRs are connected to their local BRs via a LAN.

Residential dial-in customers connect to modem banks located in the ISP's dial-in points of presence (dial-in POPs), otherwise known as dial-in hubs. These hubs are sometimes connected to backbone routers, bypassing access routers. Only the largest enterprise customers connect directly at access routers of a backbone node. Others connect at the ISP's broadband points of presence (broadband POPs), which aggregate several enterprises into one connection to the backbone access router. These POPs are omitted in Figure 8.1 for simplicity.

Figure 8.1Figure 8.1 A high-level ISP architecture

Figure 8.2 shows typical ways in which enterprise networks connect to the Internet. An enterprise may buy its Internet connectivity from one ISP (Figures 8.2a and 8.2b) or multiple ISPs (Figure 8.2c). If using a single ISP, the enterprise network may be connected to its ISP at a single access router or multiple access routers (Figures 8.2a and 8.2b). The main question for the purpose of our discussion is whether there is a single element in the enterprise network (a router, switch, or link) through which all Internet traffic flows. We refer to such an element as a focal point. Focal points may be undesirable from the fault-tolerance perspective, since a failure at a focal point breaks the Internet connectivity of the enterprise. At the same time, they create convenient points to deploy proxies, as we show later in this chapter.

Figure 8.2Figure 8.2 Typical examples of enterprise network connections to the Internet

Note that many enterprises with multiple ISP connections use only one connection for normal operation, with the rest serving as backups in case the main connection fails. These enterprise networks have a focal point despite multiple Internet connections. Other enterprise networks alternate between their Internet connections to balance traffic across all available links. Doing so eliminates a focal point for Internet traffic.

An ISP can deploy a proxy at a POP, at a backbone node to serve requests entering the backbone at this node (a backbone entry point proxy), or at a backbone node to serve any requests regardless of where they enter the backbone (a backbone core proxy). The main tradeoff here is between the amount of benefit from a cache hit versus the hit rate. A proxy at a POP is the closest the ISP can get to the customers. Therefore, a cache hit at a POP proxy can save the ISP the most bandwidth; such a hit can also reduce latency the most, compared to other ISP locations. On the other hand, a POP proxy only serves clients that connect at this POP; a limited client population can reduce the hit rate [Duska et al. 1997; Gribble and Brewer 1997]. Perhaps even more importantly, POP proxy deployment can get quite expensive, since a large ISP can have hundreds of POPs. A backbone entry point proxy can serve all clients from all POPs and enterprise networks that connect to the backbone at the corresponding backbone node, although this proxy is farther away from customers. A core backbone proxy can potentially serve all ISP clients but is the farthest away from them. Interproxy cooperation (see Chapter 9) can alleviate the tradeoff. We consider ISP proxy deployment in the form of a backbone entry point proxy. The same issues arise also in other locations, so our discussion applies to those locations as well.

The location of a proxy is less significant to enterprise networks because, with the exception of a few global corporations, enterprise networks do not have their own backbones.1 Therefore, an enterprise or an enterprise department proxy can serve all clients in the enterprise or the department, regardless of the proxy location.

A fundamental issue in proxy deployment is how to deliver requests to the proxy. Figure 8.3 summarizes various methods for request delivery, which we consider in the rest of this chapter. The main choice here is between nontrasparent and transparent proxy deployment.

Figure 8.3Figure 8.3 Deployment alternatives for a forward proxy

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