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Virtual Proxy Hosting

Overview

The effort to move all virtual host redirects from Stanford’s Andrew File System (AFS) to a cloud platform is part of University IT's Web Content Management Program. AFS is minimally supported and hosts a number of web spaces created by individuals and other organizations in unsupported, outdated and vulnerable versions of web tools. In addition to inherent security issues, the decades-old system is costly to maintain and support, lacks modern usability features, and is impacted by delayed open source fix releases.

In 2017, the university president, provost, and board of trustees gave the directive to the Stanford CIO to address the growing concerns around the security, privacy, and stability of AFS. To date, UIT has focused on advancing the Web Content Management Program — a multi-year initiative to provide modern, secure, and managed cloud-based web alternatives, and reduce the overall footprint of AFS.

Timeline

  • March 19, 2021
     
    Open Virtual Host Data Conversion tool for unauthenticated proxy entries.
    UIT announces Vanity URL as Virtual Name Proxy solution.
  • April 1, 2021
     
    You can no longer request or edit Virtual Name Proxies. You may delete existing entries.
  • April 28, 2021
     
    Non-authenticated entries locked in the Virtual Hosts Data Conversion tool.
  • April 30, 2021
     
    Proxy entries marked for deletion by users are removed.
  • may-August 2021
     
    UIT will contact proxy owners with custom domains to help convert their proxies before the service retires.
  • October 2021
     
    UIT retires Virtual Name Proxy.

What you can do

University IT (UIT) recommends using the Vanity URL service to create and manage custom Stanford URLs to redirect your website traffic.  Vanity URLs provide a shorter and more descriptive address that is easy to remember, type and share. With your custom Stanford URL, you can also use the service to create short links to direct people to specific pages. 

Learn more about the Vanity URL service

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I get additional information or help with my existing virtual proxy?

If you have questions about the virtual proxy service, please submit a Help request.

Can I use a custom URL for my website?

To use a custom website URL that remains constant as a user browses your site, you’ll need to move your site to a Stanford-supported platform:

If you’re hosting your site on another platform, this list of resources can provide information to help you move your domain.

How do I move my custom domain name by myself?

If you wish to move your custom domain on your own, the instructions below will guide you.

  • For external hosting platforms, refer to our documentation on Using a custom URL for Your Website.
  • For on-campus hosting platforms, you’ll need to coordinate with the web or Linux administrator that manages your site's server. They will need to make a change to the server’s Apache directives and the node in NetDB to add your custom host as an alias.

When you’re ready to make the move, the owner of the Virtual Proxy Host should submit a Help request.

What is the difference between virtual host redirects and proxies?

There are two types of virtual hosts offered within University IT’s virtual host service: redirect and proxy.

  • Redirect: The destination URL of your website is displayed in the browser window after people arrive at your website. Example: http://email.stanford.edu/ is the redirect, or vanity URL, for http://uit.stanford.edu/service/emailcalendar/email. 
  • Proxy: The virtual URL stays in the browser window after people arrive at your website. Visitors to the site will NOT see the real URL, only the proxy URL. This functionality is being deprecated for authenticated entries Sept. 30, 2021.<

See the Virtual Host Details page for more information about virtual host types.

I have a WordPress site, what do I need to do to prepare for the change?

WordPress sites that are currently configured to use a virtual proxy host may experience an infinite redirect loop, making them inaccessible. 

For WordPress sites, review the documentation for updating configuration settings for WordPress. You will need admin access to the WordPress site and the AFS file system. The UIT Enterprise Technology team will work with site owners to convert their sites over the next few months. 

I have a Drupal site, what do I need to do to prepare for the change?

Drupal sites that are currently configured to use a virtual proxy host may experience an infinite redirect loop, making them inaccessible. 

For Drupal sites, review the documentation for updating configuration settings for Drupal. You will need admin access to the Drupal site and the AFS file system. The UIT Enterprise Technology team will work with site owners to convert their sites over the next few months.