Caching has risen from the dead over the past year. We at eWeek Labs now see it being used in very nontraditional ways, such as database and streaming-media caching, even while its traditional application, serving up static Web pages, starts to disappear.
Database caching is just starting to enter the mainstream, with traditional database companies such as Oracle Corp. creating database caching engines for their own products (see Oracle9i Application Server Tech Analysis) and Versant Corp. reworking its own object database into a specialized cache for other vendors? databases.
There are big technical challenges getting database caching to work with applications that need to make updates because of the need to maintain transactional integrity, but this is an area where much progress is taking place.
Read-only database caches are simpler to deploy and administer and can offer some immediate performance gains (although not nearly the gains in dynamic page caching).
Meanwhile, advances in Web servers are rapidly wiping out one of the few areas where caching has become a mature technology. Caching static Web pages, particularly HTML and images, isn?t going to make sense in the future.
Next-generation Web servers such as Red Hat Inc.?s currently shipping Tux or Microsoft Corp.?s next release of its Internet Information Server provide kernel- level modules and aggressive in-memory caching that will be as fast as, if not faster than, any secondary cache can hope to be.
Caches will continue to have important roles in the areas of dynamic content and streaming media.