From my understanding you have:

Reverse Proxy: A device standing between internal servers and the internet. Some goals: SSL termination, caching, obfuscation, more freedom to change internal structure without affecting your clients

Load Balancer: One server can't handle all the traffic; get 10 servers, and have clients route through a load balancer to distribute the load to each server

Firewall: A device that filters out malicious traffic from the internet

In all three cases, you have a server that sits between the internet and your internal network. In real-world applications, can one device wear all these hats? Does this happen often? Why or why not?


And specifically, for very large scale systems, how would this design look?

  • Systems large and small implement these and more types of middleboxes, with many different designs. Please focus your question on something you want to accomplish, why and why not depends on the specific use case. – John Mahowald Nov 5 '18 at 13:30

Yes. Nearly every full-featured firewall on the market has at least basic load balancer and reverse proxy features. And many full-featured load balancers have firewall features in them so that a firewall is not necessary for the devices behind the load balancer.

You usually find these combined features being used in small to medium shops.

  • Thank you! Please see my edit -- how would it work for very large shops (like the scale of Facebook or Amazon)? – user494940 Nov 5 '18 at 2:16

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