Far, far away¶
I realize I’m showing my age when I admit that Slades 1974 hit “Far Far Away” was one of the first rock-ballads I truly loved. (In case you have never heard of Slade or the 1970’ies British glam-rock, you may want to protect your innocence and not click on that link.)
Some years back I got invited to a conference in New Zealand, and that is “far far away” from Denmark. So far away in fact, that I downloaded the entire Bell Systems Technical Journal to my Kobo eReader in order to have something to do during the 24 hour air-traffic “experience”.
BSTJ is good reading, for instance you learn that they invented Agile Programming back in 1983, but failed to come up with a hip name.
Anyway, Internet Access in New Zealand is like time-travel back to around Y2K or so, and when one of my time-nuts friends launched a Kickstarter project it didn’t take much before his residential connection folded.
As it happens, I am in the process of setting up the new Varnish-Cache.org project server just now, generously sponsored/donated by RootBSD.com, so it was natural for me to offer to help him out.
I don’t need to explain varnishhist to this audience:
| | || || || || || || || || || || || ## ||| ## ||| # ## # ||||| # ##### +-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+-------+------- |1e-6 |1e-5 |1e-4 |1e-3 |1e-2 |1e-1 |1e0 |1e1 |1e2
Most of us who live in civilized places, tend to forget that the InterNet is very unevenly distributed.
My ISP enabled IPv6 on the VDSL2+ line to my beach-house today, some people have fiber, but in terms head-count, the majority of the world has really horrible internet connections.
In some cases it is the last mile, for instance if you live out at some remote fjord in Norway.
In other cases it is a mid-net bottle-neck, in the case of New Zealand a shortage of transoceanic fiber cables 1 .
Caching is not a cure-all, it is far from a miracle cure, even thought it might seem that way sometimes.
But as prophylactic for bandwidth troubles, it is second to none.
One of the goals of Varnish was that it should be easy to roll out in a crisis situation, start it, repoint your DNS, suffer less, tune it a little bit (usually: ignore cookies) and suffer a lot less.
Today was a good sanity-check for me, trying exactly that.
All in all it worked out pretty well, as the varnishhist above shows.
These BSTJ articles about the first Atlantic phone cable will give you an appreciation of why that is not a trivial problem to solve.