Proxy Server Concepts
The primary functions of Microsoft Proxy Server is to act as a gateway to and from the Internet. Clientsconnect to Proxy Server when they make a request for resources located on the Internet. Proxy Server getsthe resource and returns it to the client. The Server can also allow selected computers or protocols toaccess the internal network. Since you are only presenting one IP address to the Internet, Proxy Servereffectively hides your internal network.A Proxy Server has one network card for the private internal network and it has another network adapterwith which to connect to the Internet. This adapter may be another network card or it may be an ISDNadapter. The Proxy Server is the only computer in the network attached to both internal and externalnetworks.Microsoft Proxy Server consists of 3 different services: Web Proxy, WinSock Proxy, and SOCKS Proxy.
Web Proxy Service
The Web Proxy service runs as a service on a Windows NT Server. It runs as an extension to IIS 3.0 orhigher. You must have IIS installed on your NT server in order for the Web Proxy service to run. Clientscontact the Web Proxy service and it contacts other Web servers on behalf of the client and then relays theinformation back.The Web Proxy service supports Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and File Transfer Protocol (FTP) forcomputers on the local LAN.
The Web Proxy service maintains a local copy of HTTP and FTP objects on a local hard disk. This iscalled caching. Not all objects are cached. Some objects change frequently, even each time they areaccessed, so caching them is a waste of processing time. Some objects have a security context and are notcached for security reasons. The Proxy Server performs two types of caching: Passive caching and Activecaching.
Passive caching is the method used most. It is also know as on-demand caching because it is available ondemand when the client makes the request.In a network that does not have a Proxy Server, the client contacts the Web server on the Internet. TheWeb server responds to the request and sends the requested objects directly back to the client. ProxyServer sits in the middle of this process. The Proxy client contacts Proxy Server with the request. ProxyServer goes to the Internet with the request and retrieves the requested object. It caches that object. If you,or any other client, requests the object again, Proxy Server gets the object from the local cache rather thanfrom the Web server on the Internet.In order to ensure that the cached information is still current, several techniques are used. One techniqueis to set an expiration time on the object. This expiration time is known as the time to live (TTL). When aclient requests an object that is cached, Proxy Server checks the TTL to determine if the requested objectis still valid. If the TTL has not expired, then the object is returned to the client. If the TTL has expired,then Proxy Server goes out to the Internet and retrieves the object and the TTL process begins again.