Caching Technology for Dynamic Content Revealed

SAN MATEO (05/04/2000) - Attempting to solve the problem of how to cache fast-changing Web content while ensuring that only the most up-to-date data is held in cache, Persistence Software Inc. yesterday announced a new solution dubbed Dynamai.

The product is application-aware caching software for dynamic business content, providing the capability of improving the efficiency of e-businesses by caching material that previously could not be cached, according to Persistence CEO and co-founder Chris Keene.

"What we're doing is revolutionizing the way caching is done," Keene said. "The Web is literally alive with changing business content, seething with change."

With more businesses moving to the Web to conduct business, there is a need to have pricing and availability updated quickly and correctly. Sites such as online-auction sites or business-to-business portals need information to be updated instantaneously to be successful, for example.

"If you look at a lot of the sites out there where the money is, practically all of them are driven by dynamic content," said Jim Burton, CTO of Persistence.

The key to Dynamai, Persistence officials said, is event-triggered caching. The cache is only updated when a new event changes the cached information. The cached content will remain the same if no new event causes an update.

Martin Marshall, managing director at Zona Research, in Redwood Shores, Calif., said that dynamic caching is a problem area for e-business and that Dynamai is the first event-triggered solution to that problem.

"There have been others with solutions to dynamic caching," said Marshall, citing Cacheflow's time-based cache updating. "This is the first one I know of based upon event-triggering, and that's a very logical way of doing it."

Persistence officials also stressed that Dynamai makes no direct changes to the existing site. It also works with already-installed static caches to improve upon their speeds, they said.

"Dynamai has a zero-impact integration," Burton said. "It makes no changes to the underlying site and has a simple configuration."

Burton broke the integration process down into three steps. First, dynamic cacheable content is identified and Dynamai is configured to recognize it.

Second, Dynamai must be configured to recognize those events it cares about, such as a bid increase on an auction site. Third, the software must be instructed on when and how those events were generated and cache the new information in the right place at the right time.

"[Businesses using dynamic content] want to be very very careful [they] are caching the right material and that it is the current version," Marshall explained. "This ability has to be event-driven."

Persistence officials also mentioned several partners working on Dynamai, including Sun, Cisco, Adero, and Lante.

"With static caches you are looking at [performance that is] two to three times faster [than sites without caching]," said Keene. "With Dynamai, sites with dynamic content are running 40 times faster for customers."

Marshall pointed out that although Persistence is the first company to offer event-driven dynamic caching, it surely will not be the only one. He stated that Persistence will need to be very careful with their patenting on the technology and with their marketing scheme.

"Inktomi and Akamai are probably not sitting on their hands," Marshall said.

"Will those companies have to pay royalties to Persistence? I don't know, it depends on how strong the patent is."

Dynamai is already in commercial use by some companies and becomes widely available in late May on UNIX, Linux (RedHat 6.1 and later), and Windows NT.

Persistence Software Inc., in San Mateo, California, is at www.persistence.com.

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