Smart content switching for news website


Build a scalable architecture for news website using below components:

  • load balancer with content switching capability
  • cache server
  • application server


  • Content switching: the ability to route traffic based on the content of the HTTP request: URI, parameters, headers, etc…
    HAproxy is a good example of OpenSource reverse proxy load-balancer with content switching capability.
  • cache server: a server able to quickly deliver static content.
    Squid, Varnish and Apache Traffic Server are OpenSource cache reverse proxy.
  • application server: the server which build the pages for your news website.
    This can be either Apache+PHP, Tomcat+Java, IIS+asp .net, etc…

Target Network Diagram



All the traffic pass through the Aloha load-balancer.
HAproxy, the layer 7 load-balancer included in Aloha, will do the content switching to route request either to cache servers or to application servers.
If cache server misses an object, it will get it from the application servers.

Haproxy configuration

Service configuration:

frontend public
	bind :80
	acl DYN path_beg /user
	acl DYN path_beg /profile
	acl DYN method POST
	use_backend APPLICATION if DYN
	default_backend CACHE

The content switching is achieved by the few lines beginning with the keyword acl.
If a URI starts with /user or /profile or if the method is a POSTthen, the traffic will be redirected to the APPLICATION server pool, otherwise the CACHE pool will be used.

Application pool configuration:

	balance roundrobin
	cookie PHPSESSID prefix
	option httpchk /health
	http-check expect string GOOD
	server APP1 cookie app1 check
	server APP2 cookie app2 check

We maintain backend server persistence using the cookie sent by the application server, named PHPSESSID in this example. You can change this cookie name to the cookie provided by your application, like JSESSIONIDASP.NET_SessionId or anything else.
Note the health check URL: /health. The script executed on the backend will check server health (database availability, CPU usage, memory usage, etc…) and will return a GOOD if everything looks fine and a WRONG if not. With this, HAproxy will consider the server as ready only if the server returns a GOOD.

Cache pool configuration

backend CACHE
	balance url
	hash-type consistent
	option httpchk /
	http-check expect KEYWORD
	reqidel ^Accept-Encoding unless { hdr_sub(Accept-Encoding) gzip }
	reqirep ^Accept-Encoding:\ .*gzip.* Accept-Encoding:\ gzip
	server CACHE1 check
	server CACHE2 check

Here, we balance requests according to the URL. The purpose of this metric is to “force” a single URL to always be retrieved from the same server.
Main benefits are :

  1. less objects in caches memory
  2. less requests to the application server for static and pseudo-static content

In order to lower the impact of the Vary: header on Content Encoding, we added the two lines reqidel / reqirep to normalize a bit the Accept-Encoding header.


About Baptiste Assmann

Aloha Product Manager HAProxy consultant
This entry was posted in Aloha, layer7, optimization, performance and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Smart content switching for news website

  1. seo says:

    whoah this blog is excellent i love reading your articles. Keep up the great work! You know, a lot of people are searching around for this information, you could aid them greatly.

  2. Bob says:

    Thx! A small addition which may be obvious for most of the people but took me some time to figure out: For content switching both the frontend and backend need to be in the same mode. It worked for me after adding “mode http” to the frontend and backend definition.

  3. Pingback: Application Delivery Controller and ecommerce websites | HAProxy Technologies – Aloha Load Balancer

  4. Pingback: Application Delivery Controller and ecommerce websites | HAProxy Technologies – Aloha Load Balancer

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