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How to get SSL with HAProxy getting rid of stunnel, stud, nginx or pound | Exceliance – Aloha Load Balancer

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Original source (blog.exceliance.fr)
Tags: ssl tutorial haproxy howto nginx blog.exceliance.fr
Clipped on: 2013-08-09

Update: HAProxy can now handle SSL client certificate: SSL Client certificate management at application level


HAProxy is well know for its performance as a reverse-proxy and load-balancer and is widely deployed on web platforms where performance matters. It is sometimes even used to replace hardware load-balancers such as F5 appliances.
When the platform requires SSL, it is common to use nginx, Pound or http://www.stunnel.org/index.html. Recently, stud came in the dance with a major advantage over other software: support for HAProxy’s proxy protocol.

At Exceliance, we build our ALOHA load-balancers using HAProxy and we use stunnel as the SSL offloading software. Our clients wanted some new features on our SSL implementation we could not provide through stunnel.
By the way, you can find our stunnel patches here: http://www.exceliance.fr/download/free/patches/stunnel/
An other important thing to notice, is that stunnel does not scale very well: when managing a lot en encrypted connections, stud or nginx are far much better.
That’s why we decided to implement SSL directly in HAProxy. For now, it is still quite basic: SSL offloading with SNI support and wildcard certificates, ability to encrypt traffic to servers.
But at least, the performance are here!
We’ll keep on improving it later with new features, IE: client certificate management and some fun stuff with ACLs: stay tuned!

Remember that the job was done by Exceliance engineers.

Note that if you’re using the softwares listed above for other purpose than SSL, then you may still use them. For example, nginx performs very well on static content and on dynamic using php-fpm.

SSL offloading diagram

This is pretty simple, as shown on the picture below. The client will get connected on HAProxy using SSL, HAProxy will process SSL and get connected in clear to the server:
Image (Asset 1/2) alt= Since it has been released in the 1.5 branch, you can use it in production Image (Asset 2/2) alt=