ASP.NET - How to Handle Relational Data in a Distributed Cache

By Iqbal Khan

The Microsoft .NET Framework has become popular for developing an array of high-transaction applications including Web, service-oriented architecture (SOA), high-performance computing or grid computing, and cloud computing. All these application architectures are scalable. But a major bottleneck occurs in the data storage—normally a relational database—which isn’t able to scale and handle the increased transaction load that the application tier can.

As a result, distributed caching is becoming quite popular because it allows you to cache data in an in-memory cache that’s much faster to access than any database. Also, distributed caching provides linear scalability across multiple cache servers. With linear scalability, you can add more cache servers to the distributed cache cluster if you need to handle a bigger transaction load. The incremental gain in transactional capacity doesn’t diminish as you add more servers (it’s a straight line in an X-Y graph where X is the number of cache servers and Y is the transaction capacity). Figure 1 shows how distributed caching fits into a typical ASP.NET or Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) application and how it provides linear scalability.

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