Thursday, July 5, 2007

How Caching works???

In todays web world many concurrent users access the web applications. Most of the web applications access the database (relational/hierarchical) in some way or the other to authenticate the user and validate the user rights on the web application. If web applications access the database each time user access the site then it will throw the user to go to competior because they are smart and implementing cache :-)

Web applications use caching to store the session information and authorization rights information for fast access. If web application does not manage the cache then it has to access the database to get the authorization information each time user access some link. This task is time as well as resource consuming.

When a object is retrieved for the first time from the database, instead of discarding the information it is storred in a buffer called cache. There are lot of complications storing the retrieved information in the cache:

1) Since caching is meant for faster retrieval if we keep adding newly retrieved contents from the database it will grow to unmanageable size. Smart people remove the unnecessary contents from the cache based on different algorithims. Some of them are mentioned below

a) Least Recently Used
b) Least Frequently Used

2) Implementing cache using algorithim which makes the fast retrieval/search possible.

3) Consider a scenario in which user has rights to access 10 links on a site initially and those rights are cached. Later on those access rights are modified (added more rights or removed some extra rights) from the admin console. If the cache is not updated on time user will not be able to access what S/he has right to access. To overcome this problem chaching should be updated at the same time when rights are modified.

4) Consider another scenario in which there are two servers behind the load balancer and cached objects are local to the servers (i.e cache is not shared between both the servers). If one of the server goes for a toss what will happen for the cached objects. To overcome this scenario chache manager needs to send notification of the newly added/removed cached object to other server's in the cluster.

5) Implementing max time for which a cached object be alive in the cache. After that max time is reached the object should be removed from the cache and recached based on next request from the user.

6) Caching parametes should be configurable so administrators can change them based on requirements.

Caching frameworks

Several object-caching frameworks (both open source and commercial implementations) provide distributed caching in servlet containers and application servers. A list of some of the currently available frameworks follows:

Open Source:
Java Caching System (JCS)
Java Object Cache (JOCache)
Java Caching Service, an open source implementation of the JCache API ( SwarmCache
IronEye Cache

SpiritCache (from SpiritSoft)
Coherence (Tangosol)
ObjectCache (ObjectStore)
Object Caching Service for Java (Oracle)

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