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We have 3 front-end servers each running multiple web applications. Each web application has an in memory cache.

Recreating the cache is very expensive (>1 min). Therefore we repopulate it using a web service call to each web application on each front-end server every 5 minutes.

The main problem with this setup is maintaining the target list for updating and the cost of creating the cache several times every few minutes.

We are considering using AppFabric or something similar but I am unsure how time consuming it is to get up and running.

How do you/would you update an expensive in memory cache across multiple front-end servers?

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A very simple approach could be to store the data on disk and the create a timer job that updates it and stores it on every WFE.

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You might consider a variation of Wictor's approach. Namely, map a drive on each WFE to the same network share and then store the file-based version of the cache there. Then you could utilize e.g. a timer job on each WFE to refresh the in-memory cache. Or maybe this is what Wictor was saying.

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