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Amazon ElastiCache vs Memcached: What are the differences?

Introduction: In this comparison, we will explore the key differences between Amazon ElastiCache and Memcached, two popular in-memory caching systems used to improve the performance of web applications.

  1. Deployment and Management: One major difference between Amazon ElastiCache and Memcached is the deployment and management process. ElastiCache is a fully managed service provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS) which means that the setup, maintenance, and scaling of the caching system are handled by AWS. On the other hand, Memcached is an open-source caching system that requires manual deployment and management, where developers have to set up and maintain Memcached instances themselves.

  2. Compatibility: Another key difference is the compatibility of these caching systems. ElastiCache is specifically designed to integrate seamlessly with AWS services, such as Amazon RDS, Amazon EC2, and Amazon CloudFront. It provides native support for these services, allowing easy integration and leveraging various AWS features. Memcached, being open-source, can be deployed on any infrastructure or cloud platform, providing more flexibility in terms of compatibility and integration options.

  3. Scalability: Scalability is an area where Amazon ElastiCache has a significant advantage. Due to its managed nature, ElastiCache provides simple scaling options that allow users to easily increase or decrease the capacity of their caching system based on demand. It supports auto-scaling, which automatically adjusts the resources based on usage patterns. On the other hand, Memcached requires manual intervention for scaling, where developers have to add or remove instances to accommodate the increasing or decreasing workload.

  4. Data Persistence: ElastiCache supports data persistence, which means that even if an instance fails, the data stored in the cache is preserved and can be recovered. It offers two persistence options: Snapshots and Automatic Backup. Snapshots allow users to take manual backups of the cache data, while Automatic Backup automatically takes backups at regular intervals. Memcached, being an in-memory caching system, does not provide built-in data persistence. If a Memcached instance fails, all the data stored in that instance is lost.

  5. Security and Access Control: ElastiCache offers robust security features to protect the cache data. It supports Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) for enhanced network security and encryption at rest using AWS Key Management Service (KMS). It also provides access control through AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), allowing fine-grained control over who can access the caching system. Memcached, being open-source, does not provide these advanced security features by default and requires the developers to implement their own security measures.

  6. Monitoring and Metrics: Amazon ElastiCache provides comprehensive monitoring and metrics through integration with AWS CloudWatch. It allows users to monitor the performance, health, and resource utilization of their caching system. It also provides alarm and notifications based on custom-defined thresholds. With Memcached, monitoring and metrics capabilities are not included by default and need to be implemented separately using third-party tools or manual methods.

In summary, Amazon ElastiCache is a fully managed service provided by AWS, offering easy deployment, compatibility with AWS services, auto-scaling, data persistence, advanced security features, and comprehensive monitoring capabilities. Memcached, being an open-source solution, requires manual deployment and management, provides more flexibility in terms of compatibility, lacks auto-scaling and data persistence options, and does not offer advanced security features and built-in monitoring capabilities.

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Pros of Amazon ElastiCache
Pros of Memcached
  • 58
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    Backed by amazon
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    Fast object cache
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  • 91
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    Distributed caching system
  • 11
    Improved response time and throughput
  • 3
    Great for caching HTML
  • 2

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Cons of Amazon ElastiCache
Cons of Memcached
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    • 2
      Only caches simple types

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    - No public GitHub repository available -

    What is Amazon ElastiCache?

    ElastiCache improves the performance of web applications by allowing you to retrieve information from fast, managed, in-memory caches, instead of relying entirely on slower disk-based databases. ElastiCache supports Memcached and Redis.

    What is Memcached?

    Memcached is an in-memory key-value store for small chunks of arbitrary data (strings, objects) from results of database calls, API calls, or page rendering.

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    Blog Posts

    Dec 22 2020 at 9:26PM


    Amazon EC2C langMemcached+4
    Jun 6 2019 at 5:11PM


    What are some alternatives to Amazon ElastiCache and Memcached?
    Redis is an open source (BSD licensed), in-memory data structure store, used as a database, cache, and message broker. Redis provides data structures such as strings, hashes, lists, sets, sorted sets with range queries, bitmaps, hyperloglogs, geospatial indexes, and streams.
    Elasticsearch is a distributed, RESTful search and analytics engine capable of storing data and searching it in near real time. Elasticsearch, Kibana, Beats and Logstash are the Elastic Stack (sometimes called the ELK Stack).
    Azure Redis Cache
    It perfectly complements Azure database services such as Cosmos DB. It provides a cost-effective solution to scale read and write throughput of your data tier. Store and share database query results, session states, static contents, and more using a common cache-aside pattern.
    Amazon DynamoDB
    With it , you can offload the administrative burden of operating and scaling a highly available distributed database cluster, while paying a low price for only what you use.
    Amazon SQS
    Transmit any volume of data, at any level of throughput, without losing messages or requiring other services to be always available. With SQS, you can offload the administrative burden of operating and scaling a highly available messaging cluster, while paying a low price for only what you use.
    See all alternatives