Myth Busting the Caching Fallacy

Jun 24, 2024
5 minutes
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Caching and App Performance

In our last myth-busting blog post, we covered the myth surrounding points of presence (PoPs) and their impact on app performance. This post illuminates yet another fallacy: using caching servers to boost SaaS app performance.

Circa 2000, Content Delivery Network (CDN) leaders built a technological solution to leverage PoPs: they invented caching servers that store content close to the consumers. This boosted the app experience when most of the delay was due to downloading media-rich content and reduced load on the app servers.

The CDN model made absolute sense and continues to deliver value for static content that doesn’t change often. But modern enterprise apps are evolving to take on a more complex challenge: to deliver high-value, contextual content.

To add to the problem, modern apps use large datasets, which can take 30+ seconds to load dynamic content on the page. Modern applications powered by personalized, real-time content are the backbone of employee productivity in the digital transformation era. Under the hood, a complex web of APIs and microservices work together to drive a unique, on-demand experience for every user.

App developers use the best products available to speed up their apps and have every reason to believe they have achieved maximum performance. However, battle-tested tools like CDNs have inherent limitations when speeding up modern applications.

Let’s examine the “caching fallacy”—the idea that simply using caching makes apps as fast as possible—and present a solution offered only by Palo Alto Networks.

Caching Is Ineffective for Modern Apps

Developers often resort to caching at the CDN layer to speed up their apps. CDNs are excellent at storing and delivering static content such as images, JavaScript, and other assets that change infrequently. Additionally, CDNs deliver the same content to many users.

However, modern applications rely heavily on dynamic content that is unique per user. CRM dashboards, on-demand reports, and third-party data sources have frequent updates. This implies the app response changes by time, location, user roles, and other contexts, making industry-standard caching ineffective.

This gap introduces a “latency tax,” a delay that hampers employee engagement and productivity as they have to wait for their content to load. Furthermore, additional latency also affects distributed workforces, as not all employees are near most apps' data centers.

For those who remain unconvinced, we pose two questions:

  1. How much of your app’s real-time data processing can you offload to infrastructure like a CDN?
  2. If you use caching extensively in your SaaS app development, do you still receive user complaints about slowdowns?

Dynamic content, computed in real-time for each user, incurs a latency penalty at every request. For SaaS apps in the browser, Google’s Core Web Vitals refer to this as First Input Delay (FID), and the response time is measurable per request in Chrome dev tools. The delay affects not only the end-user experience but also the overall efficiency and productivity of employees as they wait for important dashboards and other areas to load.

Prisma SASE with App Acceleration Computes the Future

Enter Prisma SASE App Acceleration, a game-changing capability designed to overcome these hurdles by “computing the future.”

Prisma SASE App Acceleration addresses these challenges head-on by proactively computing content before users request it. This approach leverages a patented technology called real user behavioral intelligence (RUBI). RUBI provides the basis for Prisma SASE App Acceleration to understand the user journey within an application, including which APIs will be called.

An example of this is switching from one dashboard to another in a CRM application. Each user will have unique dashboards, resulting in unique API calls and computations for that specific user session. This is why static content acceleration via a CDN doesn’t help–caching is traditionally only applied to content that changes infrequently.

By performing requests for dynamic content in advance, Prisma SASE App Acceleration ensures the relevant content is preloaded within Prisma SASE, fully processed through its comprehensive security measures, and delivered instantly when the user makes the request.

Compute the Future Instead of Caching the Past

Prisma SASE App Acceleration operates on a simple yet profound principle: understand the user’s journey within any application to forecast their next actions and compute the required dynamic content.

This foresight allows the system to preemptively request the content needed for that user session, initiating the loading and security processing ahead of time. When the user makes the request, the content is already prepared and fully scrubbed, having been run through the full suite of Prisma SASE security capabilities to ensure protection from even the most sophisticated threats.

Integrating app acceleration capabilities into Prisma SASE dramatically enhances application performance and user engagement. By decoupling user interaction from the inherent latency in dynamic content delivery,

Prisma SASE provides a seamless, fast, and secure experience. This method eliminates the traditional trade-off between performance and security when using modern apps, offering up to a 5x improvement in application responsiveness compared to direct internet access. Users will enjoy high-performing, secure app experiences without compromises, marking a significant leap forward in overcoming cloud latency.

Prisma SASE App Acceleration technology isn’t just an incremental improvement; it’s a paradigm shift in how we approach cloud latency and security. Computing future content offers an unparalleled boost in app performance alongside best-in-class security from Palo Alto Networks. This innovation ensures that employees can consume personalized, dynamic content at the speed of business, enhancing productivity and user satisfaction.

Prisma SASE with app acceleration capabilities sets a new standard in a world where speed and security are paramount. Prisma SASE App Acceleration proves that with the right technology, we can compute the future and deliver experiences that were once thought impossible.

Learn more about how Prisma SASE App Acceleration works for computing the future and see it in action at InterSECt 2024, our virtual event now available on-demand.


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