CacheFly Moves From Nginx and Squid to Varnish Software


CacheFly launched in 2005 as a throughput-dedicated network built on a mix of proprietary and open source solutions. It can handle large, 100 TB+ caches, operates in over 80 countries, and is currently the highest throughput CDN in the world. While it used Nginx and Squid at its inception, CacheFly moved to Varnish Software last year.

The problem was that Nginx and Squid were too unwieldy as caching solutions, hindering CacheFly’s development and ability to tweak edge cases. They required numerous patches, and needed new binaries to be built, distributed and restarted for each change to the caching layer. As such, CacheFly sought a new solution that would not disrupt stability and performance, while allowing it to add new in-demand features and grow.

In 2015, CacheFly opted to drop its legacy platform and gradually deploy Varnish Plus and its Massive Storage Engine, which could support its vast workload. Varnish Plus enables CacheFly to migrate caches in a production CDN, “painting a moving train” while maintaining its 100% service level agreement. It also afford CacheFly the size and scale to support massive, 100 TB+ caches with tens of millions of object sizes across all ranges, allowing end users to scale work undisrupted. Varnish Plus also provides custom modules and the flexibility to easily develop new features using Varnish Configuration Language.

“Using Varnish Plus we are able to deliver hundreds of terabytes of content seamlessly as well as deliver on our 100 percent SLA to our customers,” said Matt Levine, founder and CTO of CacheFly.

It was able to deploy Varnish Plus and additional caching functionality without service interruptions. Moreover, CacheFly enjoyed improved performance for in-flight objects, as well as an improved cache hit rate post-transition due to its ability to adjust edge cases using VCL within minutes. This also helped CacheFly reduce sysadmin time when rolling out new HTTP-level features and ultimately led to efficiency gains and improved ROI.

Going forward, CacheFly has announced that it will integrate more Varnish features in its non-caching environment. It’s also considering implementing Varnish for load-balancing/client-facing infrastructure tier.

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