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How to Reduce Network Latency with Cached Data

Hong Hock Tan

In large organizations, data is created across multiple sites, from corporate headquarters to branch offices across geographically disparate locations. And those organizations may want to use that data in different ways.

  • A global high-tech manufacturing company generating IOT data in the cloud may want to leverage the same data for machine learning on-premises
  • Developers testing applications in remote locations require code and tools to be placed at or close to where the software is being tested.
  • Media rendering companies, such as Weta Digital, are looking for quicker ways to cache texture files to render 3-D models and bring movies like Avatar to market faster.

But if the data is created and stored in storage silos, how can a globally distributed organization make the best use of all its data?

Caching data and its value to the business

Let's say you have an e-commerce application, running in the cloud that pulls images from a high performance flash storage array. Imagine that same application is running in multiple instances across the globe. The application needs to be interactive, with relevant and compelling content delivered quickly to ensure stickiness and deliver a strong user experience. Any delay in serving content due to network latency or slow access to the files stored on the array will be noticed immediately by the end user.

Cached data can help ensure a positive end-user experience. It provides content with quick, sub-millisecond response times, independent of where that end-user is.

Caching data is not a new concept, and organizations use it to accelerate access to data and increase the efficiency of collaboration amongst groups in different geographic locations. To put it simply, imagine a giant filing cabinet with many drawers spread across  geographic locations where data might be stored. The filing cabinet has tagged drawers, and data that is cached for quicker local access is fetched from drawers that are near to you, while still remaining connected to this filing cabinet. The cabinet holds the files and tagging, and it knows exactly where to keep data so that it can be served quickly.

In the ONTAP 9.6 release, this concept of having “one giant file cabinet” keeps stored files easily within reach, versus having to search for files from multiple cabinets, without any visibility to where that file may reside. This concept is further extended to the cloud, giving you the ability to cache data from an on-prem data volume to the cloud – making your cabinet colossal in its reach.

Stretching your cloud resources

Businesses operate in cycles (peak and lull periods), and smart data centers are more efficient and cost less to operate, because they are able to burst to the cloud to meet spikes in demand and spin back down when demand slows. These smart data centers need to be able to access required data to ensure continuity of service during peak cycles.

With Flexcache, caching to AWS and Microsoft Azure can be set up easily so that active data can be cached close to where the application is spiking. Cached volumes are created and reside in the cloud, using Cloud Volumes ONTAP instances, that can serve data instantaneously in the cloud right to the application.

Modernize your infrastructure

Hybrid clouds are here to stay. IDC predicts that by 2024, 90% of Global 1000 organizations will have a multi-cloud management strategy that includes integrated tools across both public and private clouds.

Software technology such as Flexcache will help modernize data centers, increasing utilization by enabling more efficient caching of data in a hybrid cloud environment. With this technology, data access becomes noticeably faster. In addition, network costs are reduced because network bandwidth is only used for hot data that is cached near the application – in the cloud or on-premises. Your data is also kept secure, with encryption at rest and in flight providing a highly protected and secure platform even across a globally distributed environment.

For organizations looking to simplify file distribution and to reduce WAN latency bandwidth costs, FlexCache provides a remote caching capability that addresses the requirements of modern globally distributed data centers.

For more information on Flexcache and how it can help modernize your infrastructure, visit

Hong Hock Tan

Hong Hock is the APAC Technology Evangelist for NetApp Asia-Pacific. Based in Singapore, he is a keen technology advocate for data center renewal and emerging technologies that makes the world better for his children and future generations.

View all Posts by Hong Hock Tan

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