Alternative Memcache Usage: A Highly Scalable, Highly Available, In-Memory Shard Index

While working with Memcache the other night, it dawned on me that it’s usage as a distributed caching mechanism was really just one of many ways to use it. That there are in fact many alternative usages that one could find for Memcache if they could just realize what Memcache really is at its core – a simple distributed hash-table – is an important point worthy of further discussion.

To be clear, when I say “simple”, by no means am I implying that Memcache’s implementation is simple, just that the ideas behind it are such. Think about that for a minute. What else could we use a simple distributed hash-table for, besides caching? How about using it as an alternative to the traditional shard lookup method we used in our Master Index Lookup scalability strategy, discussed previously here.