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BorderManager FastCache: Single Proxy Server Supports 67,000-Seat Network for Utah Schools

Articles and Tips: article


01 Feb 1998

Unlike other vendors' proxy caches that require multiple servers and cache "farms" to scale the Internet for their customers, Novell's BorderManager FastCache can handle tens of thousands of users on a single server. This document describes a pilot system installed for Utah Link, a state-run Internet Service Provider (ISP) for Utah's entire public school system. This pilot system uses BorderManager FastCache to proxy Internet access for all 67,000 of their clients (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Demand for Utah Link's services continues to exceed all expectations.

Real Customer Benefits

Running on a Dell PowerEdge 6100/200 server with a single 200MHz Pentium Pro processor, 256MB RAM and 30GB disk storage, BorderManager is able to cache and deliver Web content more efficiently than any other proxy solution. Here are some of the more telling statistics:

  • Response time improvements ranging from 2 to 100 times faster

  • Over 1 million hits per school day (7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. - see Figure 2)

  • 1.5 million recently-used Web objects cached on the server with a 74% cache hit rate

  • 25,000 recently-used DNS names cached on the server

  • Server CPU utilization averaging below 45%

Figure 2: Because Utah Link services the public schools, peak usage occurs during the daytime hours from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

These capabilities allow Utah Link to provide ultra-fast response times for Web content with both a lower cost-of-ownership over all other proxy solutions and a growth path that doesn't require repeated hardware upgrades.

Utah Link's customers, both teachers and students, are ecstatic. Before, with 25 to 30 lab students simultaneously selecting the same site, it took 3 to 5 minutes for the entire lab to download a single page. Response time was so slow that students had to wait 30 to 40 seconds after every mouse click. Teachers now see a viable "time on task" that really opens up the learning potential of the Internet. Teachers who run guided site tours for 25 to 30 lab students are even more excited because the entire lab can now download the same page in a fraction of the time. Students are happy because they can surf through a site without having to wait 30 to 40 seconds every time they follow a link.

These performance improvements make the difference between success and failure in an educational environment. These same advantages can be shared by any organization that needs true Internet performance.

About Utah Link

Utah Link is part of the Utah Education Network formed under the direction of Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, an advocate of technology in the public school system. The result has been broad Internet access throughout the Utah's public school system as well as centralized filtering of unwanted Internet content. Utah Link is located in the Eccles Broadcast Center on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Utah Link services one of the best connected states in the union comprising 650 schools, more than a half-million students, and over 67,000 Internet-ready computers.

Utah Link's infrastructure is built around a single T3 line connected to SprintNet. Each of the state's schools connects to their district offices via T1 Frame-Relay links, then to the nearest state college or university via T1 links, then to Utah Link via multiple T1 or DS3 links. Utah Link has a large WAN infrastructure connecting all of the state's public and higher-education schools. (Although the colleges and universities use Utah Link's T3 connection to the Internet, the customers at those sites were not included in this pilot nor were they numbered among the 67,000 using the proxy cache.)


The real proof for Novell products has always been in production environments, where a single NetWare server continues to provide more horsepower than three or four NT servers, and at a fraction of the cost. This 67,000-user pilot is a testimonial not only to Novell's past accomplishments, but to Novell's new leadership capability in the intranet and Internet computing industries.

Copyright 1998 by Novell, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, for any purpose without the express written permission of Novell.

All product names mentioned are trademarks of their respective companies or distributors.

* Originally published in Novell AppNotes


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