Web application firewalls (WAF), like Riverbed SteelApp Web Firewall, have a specific purpose: to protect services from attacks that attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in web applications. While general purpose firewalls (both traditional and next-generation) may also provide a degree of such protection, they’re typically intended for protecting enterprise networks. WAFs include additional protection capabilities that traditional enterprise firewalls lack, and concentrate these capabilities at the application layer.
By Steve Riley
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Riverbed SteelApp™ Traffic Manager from Riverbed Technology is a high performance software-based application delivery controller (ADC), designed to deliver faster and more reliable access to Microsoft Azure applications as well as private applications. As a software-based ADC, it provides unprecedented scale and flexibility to deliver advanced application services.
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Aptimizer Express dynamically optimizes webpages in the background and provides customers with webpages that load significantly faster while reducing data traffic on their network. WCO is the industry term used to describe transforming webpage content on-the-fly into the most compact form, without developers having to manually optimize the behavior and performance of each web page. High-traffic, public-facing websites, corporate websites, e-commerce sites, business productivity tools, and SharePoint applications are transformed for faster delivery, lower-bandwidth requirements, and better user experience.
Aptimizer Express is an add-on module for Stingray Traffic Manager that provides a set of robust optimizations to accelerate the delivery of most web pages, no configuration or tuning is required. This advanced WCO capability with Stingray Aptimizer Express is available as a licensed add-on module for Stingray Traffic Manager 9.5.
Stingray Aptimizer Enterprise is the full featured version of Aptimizer that is available as pure software for web server installs, as an add-on module for Stingray Traffic Manager, or as a pre-packaged software appliance for virtual and cloud environments.
Here is what Aptimizer Express does to your website to speed up pageloads.
Inline CSS Background Images
Aptimizer Express includes image data in CSS files by encoding the data as Base64 and using a data URI to insert it in the style sheet. Including the image data in the style sheet eliminates a request/response roundtrip between the browser and server, which ultimately speeds up page load times. Background image inlining is good for websites with a lot of small, static images.
Many websites download images that are higher quality than actually required. Aptimizer Express resamples JPEG images, which reduces the file size without any perceivable visual difference when compared to the original image. This feature is particularly valuable to websites that use a large number of JPEG images.
Remove Redundant Image Information
Aptimizer Express automatically strips redundant metadata information from images resulting in smaller file sizes and reduced bandwidth usage. This data can include exif, date/time, and descriptive information. This feature is particularly valuable to websites with a larger number of images.
Version and Cache Resources
When a user visits a website resources (images, web fonts, etc.) are downloaded and stored in a cache on the user’s computer. On subsequent page loads many websites will unnecessarily re-download these resources even though they haven’t changed. Resource versioning eliminates these unnecessary requests by intelligently naming resources so that downloads only occur when the resource is modified. Aptimizer Express applies versioning only to resources referenced via CSS, so will provide the most benefit to sites that utilize CSS heavily to load images and web font files.
Caching of Non-Versioned Resources
For any resources that are not versioned, Aptimizer Express will modify the Cache-Expiry header so the resource persists in the client cache and isn’t downloaded every time the page is requested. This reduces the number of round trips on page loads and subsequently reduces page load times and bandwidth cost.
ETags provide a way to determine whether the resource stored in a browser’s cache matches the one on the server. The first time a resource is downloaded, Aptimizer Express attaches a unique ETag header. On subsequent requests for the resource the browser sends the ETag back to the server, which the server checks and then only sends back the resource if it has been modified (resulting in a new ETag). If the resource has not been modified, Aptimizer Express responds with a 304 ‘Not Modified’ response (containing no data). ETags work together with versioning and caching on the browser to eliminate unnecessary downloads and will help significantly improve page load time and reduce bandwidth usage. ETags will provide benefit for any website.
Aptimizer Express parses CSS documents and detects when additional style sheets are referenced via CSS @import tag. Aptimizer Express will insert, or ‘flatten’, the contents of any referenced (child) style sheets into the original (parent), eliminating the need for a separate roundtrip to download children style sheets from the server. This feature reduces page load times, especially for websites with a high number of CSS @import references.
Compressing resources is an easy to way to reduce the size of data being transferred from server to client, reducing bandwidth usage, and speeding up page load times. Once Aptimizer Express has applied other optimization techniques it applies deflate compression to resources before serving them to the client’s browser. Compression provides benefit to a wide range of sites.
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Riverbed Professional Services is giving a 5 day Technical Class on Stingray Traffic Manager (which includes Stingray Application Firewall and Stingray Aptimizer). This class has plenty of traffic script programming and labs that should challenge anyone. The class is being held at Riverbed HQ in sunny San Francisco April 8-12 th . Riverbed Partners get a big discount. Here is the official announcement: This 5-day solution-focused class offers an introduction to the Riverbed® Stingray® Application Delivery Controller solution with hands-on installation, configuration, and reporting experience using the Stingray Traffic Manager, Stingray Aptimizer and Stingray Application Firewall solution with an introduction to TrafficScript. Here is the outline: http://www.riverbeduniversity.com/assets/courses/P8605.32.ADC200CourseOutline.pdf Registration: http://www.cvent.com/Events/Calendar/Calendar.aspx?cal=d3b6513c-867f-4035-819b-657ed775ec10
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