Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Java IoT, Industrial IoT, Microsoft Cloud, Open Source Cloud, Machine Learning , Apache

Java IoT: Article

Caching: Up and Down the Stack

Boston Web Performance Meetup Wrap-up

The other month I presented Caching Up and Down the Stack at the Boston Web Performance meetup. It was great to get the chance to present to the 60+ people who came out for the talk. Unsurprisingly, many of the people there knew a lot about caching in all of the different levels I touched on, and some great conversation developed.

I covered six of the major areas of caching available to web devs today. On the HTML / JS / CSS side, you can use client asset caches, full-page HTTP caches (like Varnish) and partial template caches. On the back end, you can use generated code caches, manually cache objects in memory or nearby services or even enable your database’s query cache (though, as the audience reminded me, if you’re using MySQL, just don’t. See below for why). Caching at each layer has advantages and disadvantages, and throughout, you’ll only be effective if you know what you’re caching, why you’re caching it and if you measure the improvement of doing so. If you want to know more, check out the slides on Slideshare.

Obviously, this is a huge topic, and I didn’t come anywhere close to doing it justice. The audience came up with several interesting points, both during and afterwards.

1. One of the first questions I got was about a comparison between a cached an uncached page load. I showed this graph:

The main takeaway from this is the drop in bandwidth. 500k isn’t a trivial amount to download, especially when spread over 20-odd files, and doubly so when on a mobile browser. That’s a great improvement when cached, but somebody asked, “Why did the number of requests change?” It turns out that specifying a file as cacheable doesn’t necessarily imply that a connection to the server is unnecessary. For instance, files with an etag header set will validate against the server, and the server will return a 304 Unmodified if the etag matches. On the other hand, if the Cache-Control header is set with “public” and an appropriate max-age directive, the content doesn’t have to be validated, and the browser may entirely eliminate the HTTP request.These days, this can actually be quite effective, as the ratio of time spent downloading content vs. establishing connections is lower than it has ever been. If you’ve got content that doesn’t change (because it’s versioned in the filename, for instance), set it as Cache-Control: public, max-age=large-number!

2. In the words of one wise audience member, “The MySQL query cache sucks. Never use it.” I don’t disagree. But why? Consider the following properties of this cache:

  • It only caches exact matches on queries.
  • It is invalidated every time anything in the table changes.

If you think about your data and access patterns, there’s a good chance one or both of these properties make the MySQL query cache unsuitable for production use. Few apps have large, static data sets and unpredictable but highly repetitive queries. In most cases, the query cache will spend its time in two states – cold and empty, or flushing itself. Neither will make your application appreciably faster.

Instead, consider caching objects at a coarser granularity once you’ve retrieved them from the DB, or consider adding a proper set of indices to ensure that common queries to your tables are quick.

3. Though I spent most of my time on object caching, I neglected to mention one of the most effective places to cache language objects: in memory on the machine it’s used on! Object caching is generally any type of caching that’s done by retrieving an object from a slower data store (that may involve an expensive computation), and storing the result in an easy-to-lookup place. While memcache in great for this, and has the advantage of scaling independently of your app itself, sometimes just stashing an object in a global dictionary can be the best solution. Plus, especially if the set is bounded or never changes, invalidation and cleanup can be as easy as waiting until your next deploy to reboot the app servers!

All in all, it was great to see everybody out, and I’m looking forward to the next Boston Web Performance Meet-up!

Related Articles

The 5 Critical Things You Need to Know to Assure Optimal Performance in the Cloud

QoS, Wherefore Art Thou

Solving Slow Database Performance In Java and MySQL

More Stories By TR Jordan

A veteran of MIT’s Lincoln Labs, TR is a reformed physicist and full-stack hacker – for some limited definition of full stack. After a few years as Software Development Lead with Thermopylae Science and Techology, he left to join Tracelytics as its first engineer. Following Tracelytics merger with AppNeta, TR was tapped to run all of its developer and market evangelism efforts. TR still harbors a not-so-secret love for Matlab-esque graphs and half-baked statistics, as well as elegant and highly-performant code. Read more of his articles at www.appneta.com/blog or visit www.appneta.com.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-c...
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...