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Open Source SSL Acceleration

Apr 16, 2009, 23:02 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Buswell)

"Types of SSL Acceleration

"Ultimately there are two ways to do SSL Acceleration or SSL off-load. It can be done on the server side by installing an SSL Accelerator card, which has special custom processors designed to perform the public key encryption algorithms in hardware rather than software. A quick search on Google will provide a number of guides on how to use those cards with projects such as Apache. This solution has the server performing the SSL transaction but the SSL transaction is processed on the card rather than using server resources. In fact, adding one of the higher end versions of these cards to the solution in this article would further increase its performance. However, it may simply be cheaper to add more horsepower to the server itself than to invest in expensive SSL off-load cards.

"The other way to do SSL acceleration is to install a device in front of the web servers, this is typically an appliance or switch with comparable hardware to the SSL accelerator card. These devices often provide other features such as load balancing. They typically have higher transactions per second and thruputcapacity than a single server with an SSL accelerator card. The SSL accelerator in front of the servers takes the incoming SSL transactions, decrypts them, and then forwards them on to the servers as HTTP. This is still secure as the connection between the SSL accelerator and the servers is a private local network, there is no unsecured transaction going over the public Internet. This is the type of solution provided in this article, but instead of using an expensive SSL accelerator, it leverages the power of open source and off the shelf server processors."

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