October 12, 2023
5 min read time

All About On-premise Edge Caching

In the realm of content delivery, the need for speed and efficiency is undeniable. Users expect swift webpage loads, responsive APIs, seamless video streaming, and lightning-fast software downloads. Businesses, too, rely on frictionless digital interactions, data transfer and web experiences for day-to-day operations. This poses a challenge, with data and applications often residing far away from the team that needs them. 

To address this, computing power and storage are shifting towards the network edge; a strategy which aims to reduce delivery time and enhance availability. The edge can be found at different points across a network, like regional data centers and network points-of-presence. Many organizations, however, are adopting on-premise edge computing and caching solutions to manage HTTP delivery, putting ‘the edge’ within actual business locations.

Let’s explore on-premise caching, when and how to utilize it, and have a look at some situations when it could be useful.


On-Premise Caching Defined

On-premise, or on-location, caching means putting web, video, application, and API content on local servers within an organization's network. These caches temporarily retain copies of data and resources that users request, reducing repetitive data retrieval from the origin server. The aim with this approach is to optimize content delivery, reduce latency, conserve bandwidth and reduce potentially expensive external data traffic. Similar to caching in general, then, although there are many situations where having caching resources within a physical location can make a huge difference to business operations and customer satisfaction.


Why Use On-Premise Caching?

  • Faster Content Delivery: The primary benefit of on-premise caching is faster content delivery. When a resource is already cached locally, its delivery time is significantly reduced, for a more responsive user experience.
  • Bandwidth Savings: On-premise caching reduces the amount of data transmitted over external network connections, potentially leading to substantial cost savings, especially for organizations with high data transfer expenses.
  • Load Balancing: Caches can balance the load on your origin servers by serving cached content and distributing traffic evenly to prevent overload during traffic spikes.
  • Offline Availability: Cached content remains accessible even when the origin server experiences downtime or if internet access is imperfect. 


When On-Premise Edge Caching Helps

On-premise edge caching can be instrumental in some quite varied scenarios:

Software Update Delivery: Often, many devices in the same location, such as in educational institutions and workplaces, require updates. When these updates are potentially very large in file size, local caching resources can prevent network congestion and reduce download time.

Remote Offices: In businesses which operate across different locations, including different states or countries, each office location often needs access to a central data store. This could be a repository manager, for example, accessed by DevOps teams across different premises. The latency, network congestion and traffic load from this access can harm productivity and lead to operational friction. On the other hand, placing caching resources locally can optimize access to these shared files and resources, streamlining operations and enabling greater productivity and interactions

Bandwidth Savings in Remote Locations: An ideal use case for on-premise caching is for establishing local content libraries in remote locations. An extreme example of this is cruise ships, which can have limited internet connectivity and the connectivity they do have is often expensive and satellite-based. These internet access and bandwidth constraints onboard vessels can be overcome by caching video and other web-based content to improve end-user performance and satellite data costs. This is a popular use case of Varnish Enterprise content delivery software, where Varnish’s persistent disk storage capabilities are used to good effect to improve user experience while keeping costs down.

Manufacturing. Factories and warehouses can require always-on availability to run critical applications, reporting systems, and more. These sites tend to be highly distributed, with limited IT resources. To ensure continued operations and simplify management for critical workloads, even in the face of network connectivity issues on the backend, a local edge cache can provide the capabilities and resources needed to continue operations.

Retail environments. In a retail environment, on-location caching may involve storing product information, pricing data, and customer databases on local servers. This ensures fast access for point-of-sale systems and minimizes downtime due to network issues. Using in-store edge infrastructure to run apps and store data enhances responsiveness and lowers the risk of a service outage. The same is true of customer portals in general, where businesses can reduce costs and free up network capacity by caching these applications locally rather than relying on cloud or CDN investments.


Implementing On-Premise Caching

  1. Identify Cacheable Content: Determine which content types should be cached, such as static web assets, API responses, videos, and frequently downloaded software packages.
  2. Select Caching Solution: Choose an appropriate caching solution to match organizational requirements. Install and configure the chosen solution on local servers. Is the caching solution platform agnostic? Can it cache the content you need? Is it readily deployable and fast to integrate into existing architectures? On-premise caching can be more space-sensitive; does the caching software fully utilize the underlying hardware, minimizing the on-site hardware footprint?
  3. Configure Cache Rules: Define caching rules, specifying what to cache, how long to store content, and how cache purging should function. The ability to customize is crucial for meeting specific business requirements: Does the caching solution offer flexibility for TTLs, invalidations, request coalescing, response streaming, and more? Is it able to optimize bandwidth and compress content? What about user authentication and security?
  4. Test and Monitor: Rigorously test the caching setup to ensure it performs as expected. Employ monitoring tools to track cache hit rates, efficiency, and potential issues. Does the caching solution provide adequate logging, monitoring, alerting and debugging capabilities? Is there professional services, support and training on offer, if required? Will it require continued maintenance or is it “set and forget”?
  5. Regular Maintenance: Periodically review and update the cache configuration to accommodate evolving content. Remove outdated or unnecessary cache entries regularly. Does it have fine-grained cache invalidation and revalidation tools, to set TTLs as long or short as required, and deliver stale content while revalidating?

On-premise edge caching is a powerful technique for improving data access, minimizing latency, and optimizing network performance in diverse contexts. For businesses looking to improve data flows within their organization, and boost productivity and customer experience, Varnish Enterprise content delivery software is the solution of choice.

Varnish speeds up digital interactions, handles massive traffic load, and protects infrastructure. Built on top of the feature-rich and robust open-source Varnish Cache and designed for efficiency at enterprise scale, Varnish Enterprise caches anything HTTP and delivers it at very low latency while handling thousands of requests per second.

From automotive manufacturing to travel, retail and DevOps, Varnish offers the flexibility, efficiency and performance required to build customized, optimized local caching solutions. Talk to an expert to find out more.


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