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111 posts

Master Geek


#146769 28-May-2014 17:37
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Hi Geekzone,

I'm interested in knowing the technically-literate public's opinion on transparent content caching at the ISP.

Given that we're 150ms+ minimum away from a large portion of the Internet (via Southern Cross to America); are the improved page load times welcome? Is it evil? Does it break the end-to-end principle? Is that justified? Etc.

Disclaimer: This is to try and satisfy my own personal curiousity and doesn't indicate (or not indicate) my employer's intention to cache/not cache content.

“I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.” - Nikola Tesla


Disclaimer: Views expressed in my posts do not necessarily reflect those views of my employer.

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3344 posts

Uber Geek


#1055275 28-May-2014 17:38
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For.  It has benefits for users AND ISPs alike, and if done correctly, there's no real downside.

Gonna need popcorn for this thread, always a contentious issue :P


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Ultimate Geek

  #1055304 28-May-2014 17:55
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Im no expert when it comes to Transparent proxies, but the issues with the ex telstraclear/vodafone cable transparent proxy have been horrendous, seems to be settling down for now, maybe vodafone has a hold on what is going on, IMO so long as the Transparent Proxy is truly transparent no problems

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Ultimate Geek


  #1055312 28-May-2014 18:01
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From a speed + resource usage perspective I think it's a good idea. Especially for large, static, popular content. However if/when it causes things to break or behave in unintended ways I'd much rather it wasn't being used at all.

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  #1055325 28-May-2014 18:18
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I think many people who trash proxies are the same people who use non ISP DNS servers - they don't understand how things work and are suspicious of people who may disagree with their view.

Clearly TelstraClear's cache has given many a bad impression and that has caused many issues, but there would be many who are oblivious to their ISP running a cache.

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Master Geek

  #1055327 28-May-2014 18:20
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I think caching is one of those things that is a nice idea in principle, but for the issues it brings like caches going down or caching pages that shouldn't be cached I think they're just more of a nuisance.  In reality with the bulk of data use from major sites like YouTube/iTunes etc which all comes off CDN so caching doesn't really help much there.  I've never found myself dissatisfied with how fast a site loads from a far away destination without caching, with uncached throughput of 10-15Mbps from Europe now for web traffic that's entirely enough.  Different story for shifting huge amounts of data around but caching doesn't take care of that.

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  #1055331 28-May-2014 18:23
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I think transparent proxies/caches (whatever name you use) are a necessity here. Because of our distance to origin servers, because of costs and volume it makes sense.

As a Vodafone client (and using cable since the Chello days) I think they should manage it a little better and be more proactive when their gear suffers a stroke. If there are alarms they don't seem to be monitored seeing sometimes we have two or three days of bad performance until something happens. 

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Uber Geek


  #1055334 28-May-2014 18:26
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Very strongly for... 

I must say the responses so far are refreshingly lucid.

Cheers - N

Please note all comments are from my own brain and don't necessarily represent the position or opinions of my employer, previous employers, colleagues, friends or pets.

2772 posts

Uber Geek


  #1055402 28-May-2014 19:46
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Definitely think the benefits outweigh any potential downsides, especially given most implementations in NZ seem to be well-managed.

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  #1055409 28-May-2014 19:53
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I think overall it's a good thing, but only if ISP's offer customers an opt out option for their accounts.

It benefits the ISP's, it benefits the masses, but it does cause some issues and people should have the right to turn it off.

I'm a geek, a gamer, a dad and an IT Professional. I have a full rack home lab, size 15 feet, an epic beard and Asperger's. I'm a bit of a Cypherpunk, who believes information wants to be free and the Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.

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Ultimate Geek

  #1055430 28-May-2014 20:14
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I understand the need for them and they probably work well in most cases, but had a bad experience with the Telecom proxy. I had to get them to disable it for our connection because it was either breaking sites or not refreshing content (not good when you're a web dev and you need to see the changes).

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  #1055431 28-May-2014 20:20
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No sleep lost about them.

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  #1055443 28-May-2014 20:37
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With UFB roaring along the more local content the better!!

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Uber Geek


  #1055505 28-May-2014 21:55
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Wish there were stats available on hit rates and bandwidth savings. The last figures i was shown for a several hundred person network running through bluecoats had low single digit savings, which seemed to be because of the huge amount of HTTPS traffic (they werent using their own certs to MITM)

Overall i think they are a good idea if done properly, as then it doesn't get in the way. I agree that many that dislike them just have a bitter taste in their mouth from poorly configured situations that they have been in, and then are worried they will be burned again everywhere else.

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Uber Geek


  #1060589 6-Jun-2014 21:58
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We cache....and our customers love it.

I am constantly told that a subscribers rural 5mbit connection at their lifestyle section is faster than their urban 12mbit DSL connection - even when accessing local websites like trademe.

To achieve that opinion, we have two policies
1) Cache http and youtube - and keep customers within 20ms of the cache
2) Cache DNS and also keep customers within 20ms of the dns cache.

We have not yet looked into torrent caching as we dont have much torrent traffic on the network.

We use the appliansys cachebox system. There have been no problems whatsoever - and I would know as a person who has been using http caches and proxy servers since the days of Wingate, so I can recognise a caching problem before the average subscriber. But anyhow, the appliansys system we use is much better.

I have no idea what Telstra Clear or Slingshot were doing when they have their systems screw up.
 - Slingshot you may all remember was intercepting pages and serving them up to other users. Eg. one subscriber would log into trademe, and then if another subscriber went to the trademe my account around the same time, they would see your session.
 - Vodafone / TCL seem to constantly have reports of stale webpages but as mentioned above, I am sure these complaints come mostly from those that dont use the correct DNS servers. Though with the ihug/voda/paradi/clear mergers over the years, I dont blame them if they do have the wrong setting somewhere.

Someone above wanted to know some real statistics
A Cachebox serving 300 subscribers with a 180gb cache has an average 10% data served (all protocols) direct from the cache.
Thats caching youtube, http and various other websites (pornhub)
But we dont use caching to save bandwidth - we use it to serve webpages faster and make websites more responsive. Eg. the trademe logo and 80% of the graphics used on a trademe webpage is only 10ms away from the customer rather than 30ms so not a huge deal, but for overseas websites like facebook it makes a huge difference.
I remember watching the stats for when Lady Gaga - Telephone came out. It was one of the first youtube videos in HiDef to be widely watched. That video alone had something like 30gb served up from the cachebox over 2 days.

As caches get bigger, and more subscribers run under one, they become more efficient. So our pair of little 180gb units are quite small - a RAID array with 10x 256gb SSD disks and 3000 subscribers will be much better.
I said we dont have much torrent usage on our network and so bigger ISP's that do use torrent caches will see probably upwards of 40% data served from caches. It therefore makes a huge difference, and is what actually allows them to provide unlimited data plans.

A single subscriber may use 50gb of natural usage. But once you get over 50gb, its usually torrenting - and when you have 3000 subscribers in an example pool, a large number of them will be downloading the same popular torrents - so really, you only need to budget the data plans for 50gb or so per subscriber, and a whole lot of cache serving performance.

In terms of cost savings...
We find that if we convert everything to gigabytes saved as a performance measurement, our smaller units cost us about 90% of what it would normally cost to serve that gigabyte directly. So cost savings are negligible due to the low torrent usage within our subscriber base. But to be honest, its the web page surfing speed that makes it worth it for us. Even if it cost 10% more per gigabyte to serve from a cache, I would still prefer to use the appliansys system.

Ray Taylor

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  #1060595 6-Jun-2014 22:14
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Talkiet: Very strongly for... 

I must say the responses so far are refreshingly lucid.

Cheers - N

For the sake of discussion I'm going to partly disagree with you because you didn't specifically define content. We already have a lot of content cached locally through Akamai, Google Cache nodes and other CDNs, so as long as the bandwidth is available I don't believe it's a necessity for ISPs to run PeerApps, BlueCoat, Oversi, custom-squid build etc on top of that. 

All power to those ISPs who do though

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