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Reverse Proxies: Functions and Applications for Business

W4 | W4 / April 23, 2024
Reverse Proxies: Functions and Applications for Business

Businesses rely heavily on websites and applications to connect with customers and deliver services. But what if there was a way to streamline operations, enhance security, and improve user experience all at once? A reverse proxy is a server that sits in front of a company's web servers and acts as an intermediary between the public Internet and the backend servers that host a website's content. Picture it as a friendly receptionist  who receives requests from visitors and forwards them to the appropriate colleague. 

Why Do Companies Use Reverse Proxies?

Companies are increasingly turning to reverse proxies to address a multitude of challenges and enhance their web presence. As previously mentioned, these versatile tools offer a compelling value proposition: improved security, increased performance, and streamlined operations. By acting as a buffer between the public internet and your backend servers, reverse proxies can significantly improve your website's efficiency, scalability, and overall user experience. Furthermore, with the Chinese market becoming increasingly attractive to Western companies, reverse proxies offer a powerful solution to navigate the unique challenges of operating there. Particularly valuable in China, reverse proxies can help companies comply with internet regulations, optimize content delivery for users within the Great Firewall, and shield backend servers from malicious traffic originating from within China.

Here are some specific benefits of using a reverse proxy:

1/ Enhanced Security and Compliance: A reverse proxy acts as a security gateway, filtering traffic to comply with various internet regulations and shielding a company's web servers from malicious attacks. This holds true globally, but takes on added importance in regions with stricter regulations, such as China.

2/ Optimized Performance: By caching frequently requested content, a reverse proxy reduces the load on backend servers and improves website load times for users. In China, this benefit becomes even more crucial due to the potential latency introduced by the Great Firewall. 

3/ Scalability and Load Balancing: As companies grow, their web traffic increases. Reverse proxies distribute incoming traffic evenly across multiple web servers, preventing overload and ensuring smooth operation.

4/ ICP (Internet Content Provider) Considerations:  While an ICP license is often necessary for commercial websites in China, obtaining one can be challenging for foreign companies with servers outside the country. Reverse proxies can play a role by optimizing content delivery for users within China, potentially mitigating some ICP licensing hurdles.

Understanding Proxy Direction: Reverse Proxy vs. Forward Proxy


When it comes to web traffic management, proxies play a crucial role. But did you know there are two main types, each serving a distinct purpose? Let's explore the difference between reverse proxies and forward proxies.

Forward Proxy (or Gateway):

Forward proxies sit in front of clients, acting as intermediaries between them and the internet. Companies often use them to control outbound traffic, maintain user anonymity, and filter internet access. For example, a company can use a forward proxy to prevent employees from accessing certain websites, thereby protecting their internal network. Forward proxies provide a certain level of anonymity by hiding the user's original IP address when accessing websites.

Reverse proxy:

Reverse proxies, on the other hand, are located in front of a company's web servers, acting as an intermediary between the internet and the backend servers. Unlike forward proxies, they do not provide anonymity as they route traffic to the appropriate internal servers. Their focus is on improving security, performance, and scalability.


Don't get confused by the terminology! While both proxies and VPNs (German) can mask your IP address, they serve different purposes.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) acts like a secure tunnel, encrypting all your internet traffic and protecting it from prying eyes. This is ideal for sensitive activities like online banking or accessing geo-restricted content. However, in regions with strict internet regulations, like China, VPNs can be unreliable due to restrictions.

Proxies, on the other hand, function as intermediaries, relaying your internet traffic. Unlike VPNs, they don't encrypt your data. Proxies can be useful for bypassing basic website restrictions or accessing geographically limited content. But for sensitive activities, the lack of encryption makes them a less secure option.

Use Case: International Companies Operating in China


China's Great Firewall can be a major hurdle for companies wanting to reach Chinese users.  This is where reverse proxies come in. By strategically placing a reverse proxy server within China, companies can ensure their website remains accessible without needing to physically host their servers there. This simplifies operations and offers a cost-effective solution for expanding your online presence in this vast market.

W4 Success Story: Enhancing BMG LABTECH's Global Reach

A successful example of the use of reverse proxies is our customer BMG LABTECH, a leading company in the development and manufacture of laboratory equipment. By implementing a reverse proxy solution, BMG LABTECH was able to improve the security and performance of its global website while ensuring accessibility for customers in China. Read more about our collaboration with BMG LABTECH

Our Solutions for Successful China Marketing

The MAin Types of Reverse PRoxies


While there isn't a single classification system for reverse proxies, they can be broadly categorized based on their functionality and deployment methods. Here's a breakdown of some common types with some advantages and disadvantages:

Software-based reverse proxy

This cost-effective solution can be installed directly onto existing servers:

  • Advantages:
    • Low purchase price
    • Easy integration into existing infrastructure
    • Flexible scaling through installation on additional servers
  • Disadvantages:
    • Depending on server performance, high data traffic can become a bottleneck
    • Requires an existing server system
    • May pose administrative challenges when managing multiple servers

Hardware load balancers

These dedicated devices offer high performance and are suitable for businesses with high traffic.

  • Advantages:
    • Scalable performance optimized for load balancing and high availability
    • High reliability and low fault tolerance
    • Dedicated hardware can outperform software-based solutions
  • Disadvantages:
    • Higher acquisition costs and investment costs
    • Requires additional hardware management and physical space
    • Less flexibility compared to cloud-based solutions

Cloud-based reverse proxy

This solution offers high scalability and easy deployment.

  • Advantages:
    • Quick setup and deployment
    • Scalable performance on demand, without investing in additional hardware
    • Easy management via intuitive web interface
  • Disadvantages:
    • Depending on the internet connection and cloud provider
    • Ongoing monthly costs
    • Less control over infrastructure compared to on-premises solutions

Our Proxy Integration With Alibaba Cloud

As one of the few companies with deep integration capabilities with Alibaba Cloud, a leading cloud platform in China, our reverse proxy solution offers a unique advantage. This powerful combination allows you to leverage the benefits of both technologies seamlessly.  You'll gain the enhanced security, performance, and scalability of a reverse proxy, alongside the robust infrastructure and reach of Alibaba Cloud.

Find out more about our Alibaba Cloud Integration

Features of The Most Popular Proxies

Provider Features Open Source


  • high performance, stability and low resource consumption
  • easy configuration
  • Reverse proxy functionality, but also web server functions





  • particularly powerful and scalable
  • focused on load balancing and distribution of high traffic
  • offers advanced routing and health checks



  • scalable, with a particular focus on security
  • Support for static and dynamic content, server side scripting and modular extensions
  • Reverse proxy functionality, but also web server functions



  • Caching-optimized reverse proxy: Increases website performance by caching frequently requested content



  • Focus on simplicity and flexibility. 
  • automatic service discovery and configuration management
  • particularly suitable for microservices architectures and containerized applications


How to Choose The Right Reverse Proxy For Your Business

Choosing the right reverse proxy depends on several factors specific to your business and its needs. Here are some important points to consider when making your decision:

  • Existing infrastructure: Do you already have server hardware or do you prefer a cloud-based solution? Software-based reverse proxies can be installed on existing infrastructure, while cloud solutions can be deployed quickly and scale easily.
  • Traffic Volume: How much traffic does your website generate? High-performance hardware load balancers are suitable for companies with very high traffic, while software-based solutions can be sufficient for lower traffic volumes.
  • Budget: Open source solutions are free to license, but require know-how for setup and maintenance. Commercial cloud solutions often offer easier setup and support, but come with higher costs.

W4 empowers you to navigate these considerations. We offer a comprehensive range of reverse proxy solutions and expert guidance. Our team will analyze your needs and provide manufacturer-independent advice to identify the perfect fit for your business. We'll handle implementation and configuration, ensuring a seamless experience.

The W4 Reverse Proxy: Your Competitive Advantage

Our W4 Reverse Proxy solution unlocks the full potential of a reverse proxy for your business. Experience enhanced security, performance, and scalability for your web presence.  Ready to elevate your online operations?  Contact us today to discuss your specific needs and unlock the power of the W4 Reverse Proxy solution.

Get in Touch 

This blog post was originally written in German.

Tags: China Marketing

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Sarah Wilhelm
Sarah Wilhelm
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