June 7, 2017
3 min read time

Building a faster, better, stronger web infrastructure: Varnish migration

Migrating to the most up-to-date versions of software is important for a number of reasons: getting automatic or easy-to-implement critical security upgrades and patches, sticking with officially supported versions and avoiding the problems inherent in sticking with something out of date. You want the most recent, tested and most stable versions of business-critical software to save yourself from not just inefficiencies but also everything from lock-in to ballooning maintenance costs.

With this in mind, we’ve been reminding Varnish users to migrate from Varnish 3 to 4. Varnish 4 is a more stable, supported, better-performing and feature-complete Varnish Cache, and thus a more robust and sustainable complement to your infrastructure.

Migrations can be time-consuming and pose challenges, which is why we developed a professional migration service to help ease and optimize the transition.

Real-world implementation

A large Scandinavian government-owned radio and television public broadcasting company was using Varnish and relying on an internal employee for the expertise to manage it. When that employee left, they were able to make small changes here and there, but ultimately lacked the full expertise needed to sustain progress, getting locked into place. They realized that the most efficient way forward would be to upgrade the Varnish instance from Varnish 3 to Varnish 4 and get professional help in making the move.

Without a Varnish expert in-house, migration was seen as a necessary but difficult task requiring both in-depth Varnish know-how and a plan of attack for migrating. Each Varnish server they used had its own configuration. The broadcaster sought professional services, which led to a Varnish engineer spending time with them to learn about their platform, their setup and to give them more background and information about Varnish. Based on this interaction, Varnish drafted a migration plan, which was adapted to fit their specific needs and infrastructure.

As an overall project, the migration plan with Varnish took four days, while the internal project implementing the migration on-site will take six months. The time spent working with Varnish professional services helped to considerably shorten the time to plan and implement and the scope of the project overall. The migration planning provided them with a future-proof solution that will keep them from running into this kind of problem again, e.g., if they need to deploy a new Varnish server, they can do it almost instantly, without having to deploy specific bits of new code. The project created some efficiencies along these lines: the number of lines of code they have in place was reduced from 70,000 (generated) to 2,000. 

Ultimately, Varnish Professional Services was able to provide: 

  • Migration assessment, planning and support from Varnish 3 to 4 and help the company ‘regain’ their lost Varnish knowledge
  • Migration plan was designed to be incremental, letting the company continue to run Varnish while migrating step-by-step
  • Streamlined, better-performing and more efficient web infrastructure

For this company, Varnish Professional Services offered expertise and advice as well as a solid migration plan that will support a future-proof, streamlined web infrastructure that is faster, better and stronger than before.