A fast expanding internet service provider, IPI9, struggled with high bandwidth costs along with insufficient performance. Deploying CACHEBOX enabled the company to manage its
growth cost-effectively whilst providing better user experience.
IPI9 is an internet service provider headquartered in Libreville, the capital of Gabon. With 70 employees IPI9 caters for increasing demand for internet in the country providing internet access via a WiMAX network to 15,000 residential and business users.
Preparing for expansion
Before moving to submarine optic fibre, IPI9 provided internet access to a rapidly growing customer base using a 30 Mbps satellite connection with 6 Mbps uplink and 24 Mbps downstream. Up to 50% of its bandwidth was consumed by HTTP traffic with huge demand for video streaming from both business and residential customers.
Faced with escalating costs and customer complaints about performance, IPI9 wanted to manage its growth cost-effectively whilst providing a better user experience to its existing customers.
“We were planning to add more users on the same connection but our bandwidth consumption was already very high,” explained Raz Biramah, IPI9 Chief Technology Officer.
“Our customers wanted fast web content delivery and we had to provide it before adding new users. It seemed that our only option was to buy more bandwidth but this would be a very expensive investment. We soon realised that what we could do instead was to make better use of existing bandwidth and ApplianSys’ CACHEBOX seemed like a good option.”
CACHEBOX makes an impression
According to Raz, “What we found most impressive about CACHEBOX was that it handled video content like YouTube even though each time a video was requested from that site, it came with a different URL. With conventional web caching, each time a video is requested, it is downloaded from the web server and added to the local cache, resulting in multiple copies, because of the different URLs.”
CACHEBOX has proprietary software which extend caching to include objects which would not be cached by standard caches. It recognises that even though that file that is being
requested may come from a different server and have a different URL from a copy that it has already stored, it is the same content and can be served from cache.
Content providers change their methods for delivering content from time to time, often breaking the existing “rules” for determining URLs. The existing software may stop caching their content as a result.
Part of the appliance package is that when the providers make these changes, ApplianSys responds by updating the CACHEBOX software and then automatically supplying updates to customers’ appliances. As a result, CACHEBOX is soon successfully caching the content again, working with the modified URL rules.
Raz was also intrigued by the fact that CACHEBOX uses compact flash cards to store the operating system and caching application, while the hard disk is used solely for cached objects. In the unlikely event of equipment failure, the cards can simply be extracted and inserted into a replacement appliance without losing any settings.
The model that best fitted IPI9’s requirements was CACHEBOX230 which can serve up to 2500 HTTP requests/second.
It was deployed using WCCP (Web Cache Communication Protocol), with a Cisco 4503 router. An added benefit of WCCP was that traffic could be added to the CACHEBOX in stages based on its source IP, without making physical changes to the network. WCCP deployment mode also delivers load balancing and fault tolerance and allows further units to be added easily as required.
CACHEBOX310 for further network growth
The CACHEBOX230 provided a simple solution to get higher performance from IPI9’s network, reducing transmission costs and response times. The appliance saved bandwidth and dramatically improved user experience.
One year after the deployment, the number of users served by IPI9 had doubled and a further increase to 25-38,000 users is expected by the end of 2013. To address the expected growth IPI9 decided to purchase an additional unit. This time they opted for the next model up – CACHEBOX310, which serves 3600 HTTP requests per second.
Raz reported: “Simply put, CACHEBOX saves us an estimated of 28-30% of our bandwidth. Average download times have been dramatically improved and it makes a noticeable
difference to our users’ web experience. In general, CACHEBOX offers a very good priceto-performance ratio.”
A modest investment in deploying a cache deliver a clear and rapid Return on Investment. CACHEBOX allowed IPI9 to make better use of its existing bandwidth and delay its investment in higher bandwidth. IPI9 is now ready for further expansion.