SpiderCache Spins Dynamic Content

Engine speeds data but skimps on statistics

SpiderCache Inc.s updated namesake software has upped the ante in the new field of products that speed delivery of personalized, dynamic Web content.

During eWeek Labs tests of SpiderCache 1.5, which shipped last month, we saw performance gains of just under 50 percent when serving dynamically created Web pages via Microsoft Corp.s Windows 2000-based IIS (Internet Information Server) Web server.

IT managers in charge of Web farms that serve dynamic content should consider using SpiderCache 1.5 as the first step to improving Web site performance. Rival products such as Chutney Technologies? PreLoader require a separate box, but SpiderCache resides on the Web server. In tests, SpiderCache did not noticeably degrade Web server performance.

SpiderCache runs on Windows 2000 and NT 4.0, Solaris, and HP-UX. On Windows, SpiderCache is designed to tightly integrate with IIS and operates as a plug-in to the Web server.

SpiderCache costs $2,995 per processor on Windows machines and $5,299 per processor on Unix or Linux servers. On Unix and Linux platforms, SpiderCache integrates with the Apache Software Foundation?s Apache Web server software.

We installed SpiderCache 1.5 on a Windows 2000 Web server, then specified which Web pages should be cached. We used Ziff-Davis Inc.?s WebBench stress testing software to generate requests for the dynamic content from a single client. Using SpiderCache, we got 28.1 responses per second. Without SpiderCache, we got 19.7 responses.

Because of the large number of variables—including server hardware and network bandwidth—these numbers wont apply to all Web servers. Its also worth noting that performance gains will be greater if more clients are used.

A wish list for 2.0

Although SpiderCache is an easy-to-use package, niceties such as performance statistics and reporting are missing. SpiderCache should add detailed reports for the number of pages served from the cache so managers can better tune their Web site.

Version 1.5s new configuration wizard is a boon to administrators. Using the two-pane interface, it was simple to navigate to a Web server, open directories and apply caching policies to individual Web pages. The next step for SpiderCache is to enable managers to apply caching policies to groups of pages.

Managers should judge dynamic caching products by how much Web page code revision is required to make dynamic content. SpiderCache uses HTML tags inside pages that prevent information such as user names and passwords from being cached.

SpiderCache 1.5 provides stored procedures that can be used with SQL Server or Oracle databases to send a clear-cache command. Combined with the clear-cache filter feature, SpiderCache ably cleared out-of-date content.