Apache Traffic Server : Dedicated high volume proxy / caching server

By | January 24, 2014

Recently while checking on some web server load related issues I found out about Apache Traffic server.

Apache Traffic ServerApache Traffic Server

What is Apache Traffic Server (TS)?

It is an open source web proxy designed for primary purpose of serving as a web proxy (rather than traditional webserver) and caching solution. It can be set up as forward proxy, reverse proxy or transparent proxy depending upon your need.

Apache TS was initially developed by Inktomi. Then taken over by Yahoo when Yahoo acquired Inktomi. Yahoo further developed it and  used it (and still uses it) for supporting its massive traffic of users. In 2009 Yahoo donated it to apache software foundation, in process also relinquishing some patents. Currently it is top level Apache project.


But I can use my regular webserver as proxy, then what’s the need of Traffic Server ?

Technically, Yes. Most of today’s webservers can be configured to provide proxy functionality (Apache web server / Microsoft IIS /nginx  etc). However it should be noted that these primarily webservers which can be extended to act as proxy. Proxy is not their primary job.


Who should use Apache Traffic Server?

Apache traffic server is designed for IT shops who need to support massive loads. It is not a traditional webserver, rather it is a proxy server with focus on caching. That makes it perfect candidate for CDN (Content Delivery Network). Lot of big name companies are already using it. Obviously Yahoo uses it. But now some of today’s most popular social sites, CDNs and ISPs are using it. If you are a small shop (or may a personal user) and have limited load, then you may be well off using one of the more popular proxy packages like squid proxy (or may be varnish if you don’t need https/ssl). You can still use Apache TS, however, it should be noted that you’ll need to compile the package on your platform.

Also, Apache Traffic Server is open source. Many big companies use proprietary web/proxy servers (like Google) and they seem to be pretty good at what they do – however for some big names are moving towards Apache TS like LinkedIn in 2013, Akamai , GoDaddy, Internode and so on.

More Information about Apache TS

For brief overview of the Apache TS capabilities, check http://ostatic.com/blog/guest-post-yahoos-cloud-team-open-sources-traffic-server

For Apache Traffic Server documentation https://trafficserver.readthedocs.org/en/latest/index.html