Proxy servers may disrupt businesses

In the action-packed world of the Internet, proxy servers may be dishing up data that is too old.

Companies relying heavily on the Internet as a competitive tool will find the proxy server a hindrance to their business, users say.

The proxy server, which Internet service providers use, speeds up access to popular Web sites as these are cached locally in the database. At the same time, it can act as a filter to restrict access to Web sites that are deemed objectionable. However, this may be disrupting users, a Singapore consultant says.

"Electronic commerce is one application that is affected by the proxy server as it slows down the whole process," says Murali Dharan, business system consultant at Stahl Asia. "This is quite an inconvenience and a frustration to users."

"Information that has been downloaded from Web sites and stored in the server for faster retrieval may not be up-to-date as well," says Colin Chan, technology manager at Batey Ads. Companies which utilise the 'Net to check financial data may be in for a rough time, Chan says.

"For example, a user may be dealing with stocks and he is interested in buying them if the price is right," he says. "The information from the server shows 9.9 cents and he decides to buy. In actual fact, the data is 10 minutes old and the price has gone up to 10.1 cents. This is cause for concern."

Chan Jee Meng, programme director at Gartner Group Asia-Pacific Research Centre, agrees. "Information will not be very timely. It depends on how often the ISP has set the server to refresh the information," he says.

One way to counter this problem is for the user to hit the reload button on the browser when surfing a particular Web page, Chan says. "This will force the browser to retrieve information from the Web site rather than the server."

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