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InfoQ Homepage News NCache: A Distributed Cache for the .NET Platform Available Today

NCache: A Distributed Cache for the .NET Platform Available Today


While we wait for Microsoft to finish Velocity, its attempt at building distributed memory cache for the .NET platform, we turn to other more established vendors. One such vendor is Alachisoft's and its NCache product. Currently Alachisoft offers both a free and a paid SKU, the latter supporting NHibernate.

Though ready for production use, NCache Express is rather limited in its capabilities. The maximum cache size is a paltry 500 MB and can be replicated only over two servers. Partitioning, mirroring, and client-side caches are only available in the paid editions.

Unlike the enterprise version, the express edition also does not support key and database based dependencies, event notification, asynchronous operations, bulk operations, queries, ASP.NET session state or WMI monitoring. With such a wide feature gap between the versions, one has to wonder if the Express edition serves any purpose.

The paid edition is not exactly cheap, but it should be within the budgets of companies large enough to need it. It starts at $995/CPU for up to 6 processors. At 7 to 20 processors, the price jumps to $1495/CPU. Developer versions are a rather excessive $495/user and sites needing more than a 20 CPU cluster need to call for pricing.

Despite these objections, one should not overlook what NCache does bring to the table. The full version has an impressive array of features including the ability to act as a level 2 cache for NHibernate. Java clients are supported, offering another way to share information between the two platforms.

The security features in NCache are somewhat questionable. When turned on, client applications must 'login' by sending a username and password in clear text. This is in turn validated against Active Directory. Considering that public/private key encryption is well known, this is a questionable decision on Alachisoft's part.

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Community comments

  • Would NOT recommend this product

    by Steve Macdonald,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    I spent some time evaluating in this space several months ago. I will not go into details, but siffice it to say that you should not deal with this firm. If you need to scale a .Net app today, you should definitely look at

    Full disclosure: My name is Steve Macdonald, and I am CTO of GuestLogix Inc. While I was engaged in possible partnership negotiations with ScaleOut Software during my previous role as a consultant, I currently have no link to or stake in this firm. I did however do a lot of research, and until MS is actually ready the scaleout platform works reliably, and is conservatively engineered.

  • Re: Would NOT recommend this product

    by A D,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Agreed. This product seems to be a blatant copy of coherence.
    We did a background research ourself and the managment was very concerned with the findings so in the end we decided not to go ahead with this product.

  • Re: Would NOT recommend this product

    by Jonathan Allen,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Wow, I've never known a company to be so brazen.

    For those of you who don't want to read through the TSS thread, here is a representative post.

    When "Alachisoft Ncache" was released, it claimed to have an identical list of features to Tangosol Coherence, which is hardly surprising considering how often they had downloaded Coherence.

    Even more coincidentally, "Alachisoft Ncache" had documentation that was identical to Coherence. Identical. As in: They copied our copyrighted materials and presented them as their own, with only the company name (Tangosol) and product name (Coherence) changed.

    You can draw your own conclusions as to what kind of company they are.


    Cameron Purdy
    Tangosol Coherence: The Java Data Grid

  • Looks like free advertisement

    by Fabrice Marguerie,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Why promote this specific product why others exist?
    See SharpToolbox for a complete list of the available .NET caching solutions.

  • Re: Looks like free advertisement

    by Jonathan Allen,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    After covering Microsoft's Velocity, it seemed like a good idea to touch on a cache for .NET that was actually available and this just happened to be the first to catch my eye. Had I known about its sorted past I wouldn't have covered it.

    However, now that it is up I feel it is best to leave the article as-is. Hopefully readers will see the comments and use them to better make an informed decision.

  • Re: Looks like free advertisement

    by Marc Adler,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    I wonder why Cameron did not take legal action if the copying was so blatant. It would seem like a pretty clear-cut casde of copyright infringement, if what Cameron alledges in true ....

  • Re: Looks like free advertisement

    by Cameron Purdy,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Hi Marc -

    Companies (including ours) don't tend to talk about their legal actions, because disclosing those actions can actually affect the outcomes.

    I can explain, in general terms, why one would choose not file suit against a similar product, however:

    1) To file for a preliminary injunction, it will cost roughly US$75k.

    2) If you do not get the injunction, you have to take the suit to court, which could cost anywhere from several hundred thousand dollars up to tens of millions of dollars.

    3) Even if you do get the injunction or win the suit, there is nothing stopping the defendant from shutting down the one shell company and starting up (incorporating) another to sell the same stolen goods.

    Anyway, the long and the short of it is that it becomes a very expensive game of whack-a-mole. The court system is a system for solving disputes between large organizations, not between between a large and a small organization, and certainly not between two small organizations. Our "public" legal system has become too expensive for the public to use.


    Cameron Purdy
    Oracle Coherence: Data Grid for Java, .NET and C++

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