CacheFlow launches new server family

When Sunnyvale, Calif.-based CacheFlow heard what some of its customers were using its caching product for, it realized that there was a need in the market it had to address.

In order to deal with Web server bottlenecks, customers were taking “our traditional caching product and putting them in front of their Web servers and reconfiguring them,” said Greg Govatos, the director of product marketing at CacheFlow. “What we quickly realized was that this wasn’t just a new market for our existing products – this was actually a brand new market that required a different set of products.”

With that realization, the company has introduced its Server Accelerator family of products to address Web server latencies. The Server Accelerator products are designed to offload those servers from content delivery tasks, Govatos explained.

“The Server Accelerator actually sits inside the cage along with the Web servers for a particular site. It actually sits off of a load balancer…and as the requests for content come into the site, the load balancer or Layer 4 switch…redirects that request away from the Web servers and towards the CacheFlow Server Accelerator,” he said.

The Server Accelerator stores and maintains all of the content, images, and pages of the site in its own memory. When a request for information comes in, it is delivered back out over the network to the user. All of this will ultimately enable sites to be faster, and will allow sites to grow without having to purchase more servers, Govatos said.

The products would fit in several types of environments for different customers, including e-businesses, portals, content distribution networks, Web hosting providers, as well as enterprises.

“There isn’t a different product for intranet/extranet versus World Wide Web-type of applications,” he pointed out.

According to Huzaif Abdul-Sattar, on-line services manager and senior networking engineer at OnHealth.com in Seattle, his company was using the offering as an Accelerator product before CacheFlow began to market it as such.

“We used [CacheFlow’s] Client caching system to be used as the Server Accelerators with the same software model that they have. And then they came out with the software upgrade to this thing, which made it a Server Accelerator,” he explained.

The company, an on-line health journal with various applications, has been using the product for about eight or nine months. It decided to go with CacheFlow’s offering because it wanted to offload some unrelated things off of its Web servers.

“We wanted to do much more crazy stuff with our applications,” explained Abdul-Sattar. “We couldn’t just keep throwing servers at it, so we thought we should just offload some of the media. We decided to cache all of our media onto something.”

Originally, the company had thought it might create a cluster of machines to serve strictly media – which is the bulk of the site’s throughput – but then it discovered CacheFlow’s product. It is using it in conjunction with its Layer 7 switches, which re-route the media automatically, he said.

Since implementing the Server Accelerator, Abdul-Sattar said, “we are definitely a lot speedier. It’s a lot more manageable now.”

One thing he did note was that the product is not a plug-and-play solution.

“We did have some issues with it. It fits different for different companies. For us, since we were just doing media, we did have some issues with its caching medium where it will go out…we didn’t like the algorithm it was using to cache our site,” he said. “But there was enough support on their side that we were able to modify the configuration to do what we wanted to do.”

CacheFlow’s 710, 725, 745, 3725, and 5725 Server Accelerators are available. Pricing begins at US$9,995 for the entry-level 700 series up to US$84,995 for the high-end 5725 model. For more information, see the company on the Web at www.cacheflow.com.