How to Optimize Scalability for ASP.NET Web Applications

By Iqbal Khan

How to keep your Web apps running smoothly when workloads rise.

Web applications based on Microsoft ASP.NET technology are increasingly being used in high-transaction environments with thousands of users. As a result, these applications are being hosted in Web farms consisting of multiple Web servers with a load balancer.

With this increased load, many applications are experiencing major performance and scalability bottlenecks. Enterprise managers are either already grappling with these issues or are unknowingly on a fast track to crash right into those troubled areas. Scalability means keeping the same performance even during peak usage times or while supporting a higher number of users in general.

The usual scalability bottlenecks arise when an application has to take on more user load, increasing expensive trips to the database or any other data store, and this data store becomes a bottleneck and causes the application performance to drop drastically.

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There are two types of data in ASP.NET applications that cause these bottlenecks. One is user session data; the other is application data. User session data is stored in State Server or SQL Server provided by Microsoft. Application data is stored in a relational database (Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, etc.).

Using an in-memory distributed cache easily removes bottlenecks for both these types of data. For user sessions, distributed cache can be integrated without any programming effort and through a software plug-in module and replaces the existing user session storage options.

However, for application data, a distributed cache does not replace a relational database, but only augments it by helping reduce expensive trips to it. Incorporating distributed cache here requires some small amounts of programming to call the cache API.

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