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Application Delivery Controllers are used by high-end CDN’s and high traffic websites to scale and accelerate web applications, by removing load from their origin servers. They are commonly used as a reverse proxy server, placed in between web servers and the internet:
Traditionally ADC’s were hardware-based and provided only load balancing and simple application acceleration. The new generation of ADC’s offer many more features than before: aside from load-balancing, they now offer a whole list of features such as web caching, DoS protection, SSL offloading, compression, dynamic site acceleration (DSA), Front-End Optimization (FEO), mobile content acceleration and server health monitoring.
ADC’s are a great add-on for CDN’s, to turn them into fast content delivery systems, while the CDN is taking care of the geographical distribution of content. It allows you to handle high-volume traffic spikes and decrease page loading times, while further reducing load on your origin.
Alternatively, you can bypass CDN’s altogether, by installing multiple ADC’s on different edge location in the world. By doing so you are basically setting up your own CDN, with complete control over edge locations, scaling, cache control headers, IP restrictions, DoS protection etc.
Below is another scenario in which you can use an ADC – not configured as a reversed proxy. Security measurements like DDoS protection, will only function partially -or not at all – since not all traffic goes through the ADC.