Migrate from Managed Cache Service to Azure Cache for Redis

Migrating your applications that use Azure Managed Cache Service to Azure Cache for Redis can be accomplished with minimal changes to your application, depending on the Managed Cache Service features used by your caching application. While the APIs are not exactly the same they are similar, and much of your existing code that uses Managed Cache Service to access a cache can be reused with minimal changes. This article shows how to make the necessary configuration and application changes to migrate your Managed Cache Service applications to use Azure Cache for Redis, and shows how some of the features of Azure Cache for Redis can be used to implement the functionality of a Managed Cache Service cache.


Managed Cache Service and In-Role Cache were retired November 30, 2016. If you have any In-Role Cache deployments that you want to migrate to Azure Cache for Redis, you can follow the steps in this article.

Migration Steps

The following steps are required to migrate a Managed Cache Service application to use Azure Cache for Redis.

  • Map Managed Cache Service features to Azure Cache for Redis
  • Choose a Cache Offering
  • Create a Cache
  • Configure the Cache Clients
    • Remove the Managed Cache Service Configuration
    • Configure a cache client using the StackExchange.Redis NuGet Package
  • Migrate Managed Cache Service code
    • Connect to the cache using the ConnectionMultiplexer class
    • Access primitive data types in the cache
    • Work with .NET objects in the cache
  • Migrate ASP.NET Session State and Output caching to Azure Cache for Redis

Map Managed Cache Service features to Azure Cache for Redis

Azure Managed Cache Service and Azure Cache for Redis are similar but implement some of their features in different ways. This section describes some of the differences and provides guidance on implementing the features of Managed Cache Service in Azure Cache for Redis.

Managed Cache Service feature Managed Cache Service support Azure Cache for Redis support
Named caches A default cache is configured, and in the Standard and Premium cache offerings, up to nine additional named caches can be configured if desired. Azure Cache for Redis has a configurable number of databases (default of 16) that can be used to implement a similar functionality to named caches. For more information, see What are Redis databases? and Default Redis server configuration.
High Availability Provides high availability for items in the cache in the Standard and Premium cache offerings. If items are lost due to a failure, backup copies of the items in the cache are still available. Writes to the secondary cache are made synchronously. High availability is available in the Standard and Premium cache offerings, which have a two node Primary/Replica configuration (each shard in a Premium cache has a primary/replica pair). Writes to the replica are made asynchronously. For more information, see Azure Cache for Redis pricing.
Notifications Allows clients to receive asynchronous notifications when a variety of cache operations occur on a named cache. Client applications can use Redis pub/sub or Keyspace notifications to achieve a similar functionality to notifications.
Local cache Stores a copy of cached objects locally on the client for extra-fast access. Client applications would need to implement this functionality using a dictionary or similar data structure.
Eviction Policy None or LRU. The default policy is LRU. Azure Cache for Redis supports the following eviction policies: volatile-lru, allkeys-lru, volatile-random, allkeys-random, volatile-ttl, noeviction. The default policy is volatile-lru. For more information, see Default Redis server configuration.
Expiration Policy The default expiration policy is Absolute and the default expiration interval is 10 minutes. Sliding and Never policies are also available. By default items in the cache do not expire, but an expiration can be configured on a per write basis using cache set overloads.
Regions and Tagging Regions are subgroups for cached items. Regions also support the annotation of cached items with additional descriptive strings called tags. Regions support the ability to perform search operations on any tagged items in that region. All items within a region are located within a single node of the cache cluster. an Azure Cache for Redis consists of a single node (unless Redis cluster is enabled) so the concept of Managed Cache Service regions does not apply. Redis supports searching and wildcard operations when retrieving keys so descriptive tags can be embedded within the key names and used to retrieve the items later. For an example of implementing a tagging solution using Redis, see Implementing cache tagging with Redis.
Serialization Managed Cache supports NetDataContractSerializer, BinaryFormatter, and the use of custom serializers. The default is NetDataContractSerializer. It is the responsibility of the client application to serialize .NET objects before placing them into the cache, with the choice of the serializer up to the client application developer. For more information and sample code, see Work with .NET objects in the cache.
Cache emulator Managed Cache provides a local cache emulator. Azure Cache for Redis does not have an emulator, but you can run the MSOpenTech build of redis-server.exe locally to provide an emulator experience.

Choose a Cache Offering

Microsoft Azure Cache for Redis is available in the following tiers:

  • Basic – Single node. Multiple sizes up to 53 GB.
  • Standard – Two-node Primary/Replica. Multiple sizes up to 53 GB. 99.9% SLA.
  • Premium – Two-node Primary/Replica with up to 10 shards. Multiple sizes from 6 GB to 1.2 TB. All Standard tier features and more including support for Redis cluster, Redis persistence, and Azure Virtual Network. 99.9% SLA.

Each tier differs in terms of features and pricing. The features are covered later in this guide, and for more information on pricing, see Cache Pricing Details.

A starting point for migration is to pick the size that matches the size of your previous Managed Cache Service cache, and then scale up or down depending on the requirements of your application. For more information on choosing the right Azure Cache for Redis offering, see What Azure Cache for Redis offering and size should I use.

Create a Cache

  1. To create a cache, first sign in to the Azure portal. Then select Create a resource > Databases > Azure Cache for Redis.

    New Azure Cache for Redis menu

  2. In New Azure Cache for Redis, configure the settings for your new cache.

    Setting Suggested value Description
    DNS name Globally unique name The cache name. It must be a string between 1 and 63 characters and contain only numbers, letters, and the - character. The cache name cannot start or end with the - character, and consecutive - characters are not valid.
    Subscription Your subscription The subscription under which this new Azure Cache for Redis instance is created.
    Resource group TestResources Name for the new resource group in which to create your cache. By putting all the resources for an app in a group, you can manage them together. For example, deleting the resource group deletes all resources that are associated with the app.
    Location East US Choose a region near to other services that will use your cache.
    Pricing tier Basic C0 (250 MB Cache) The pricing tier determines the size, performance, and features that are available for the cache. For more information, see Azure Cache for Redis Overview.
    Pin to dashboard Selected Pin the new cache to your dashboard to make it easy to find.

    Create Azure Cache for Redis

  3. After the new cache settings are configured, select Create.

    It can take a few minutes for the cache to be created. To check the status, you can monitor the progress on the dashboard. After the cache has been created, it shows the status Running, and is ready for use.

    Azure Cache for Redis created

Configure the Cache Clients

Once the cache is created and configured, the next step is to remove the Managed Cache Service configuration, and add the Azure Cache for Redis configuration and references so that cache clients can access the cache.

  • Remove the Managed Cache Service Configuration
  • Configure a cache client using the StackExchange.Redis NuGet Package

Remove the Managed Cache Service Configuration

Before the client applications can be configured for Azure Cache for Redis, the existing Managed Cache Service configuration and assembly references must be removed by uninstalling the Managed Cache Service NuGet package.

To uninstall the Managed Cache Service NuGet package, right-click the client project in Solution Explorer and choose Manage NuGet Packages. Select the Installed packages node, and type WindowsAzure.Caching into the Search installed packages box. Select Windows Azure Cache (or Windows Azure Caching depending on the version of the NuGet package), click Uninstall, and then click Close.

Uninstall Azure Managed Cache Service NuGet Package

Uninstalling the Managed Cache Service NuGet package removes the Managed Cache Service assemblies and the Managed Cache Service entries in the app.config or web.config of the client application. Because some customized settings may not be removed when uninstalling the NuGet package, open web.config or app.config and ensure that the following elements are removed.

Ensure that the dataCacheClients entry is removed from the configSections element. Do not remove the entire configSections element; just remove the dataCacheClients entry, if it is present.

  <!-- Existing sections omitted for clarity. -->
  <section name="dataCacheClients"type="Microsoft.ApplicationServer.Caching.DataCacheClientsSection, Microsoft.ApplicationServer.Caching.Core" allowLocation="true" allowDefinition="Everywhere"/>

Ensure that the dataCacheClients section is removed. The dataCacheClients section will be similar to the following example.

    <!--To use the in-role flavor of Azure Cache, set identifier to be the cache cluster role name -->
    <!--To use the Azure Managed Cache Service, set identifier to be the endpoint of the cache cluster -->
    <autoDiscoverisEnabled="true"identifier="[Cache role name or Service Endpoint]"/>

    <!--<localCache isEnabled="true" sync="TimeoutBased" objectCount="100000" ttlValue="300" />-->
    <!--Use this section to specify security settings for connecting to your cache. This section is not required if your cache is hosted on a role that is a part of your cloud service. -->
    <!--<securityProperties mode="Message" sslEnabled="true">
      <messageSecurity authorizationInfo="[Authentication Key]" />

Once the Managed Cache Service configuration is removed, you can configure the cache client as described in the following section.

Configure a cache client using the StackExchange.Redis NuGet Package

.NET applications can use the StackExchange.Redis cache client, which can be configured in Visual Studio using a NuGet package that simplifies the configuration of cache client applications.


For more information, see the StackExchange.Redis GitHub page and the StackExchange.Azure Cache for Redis client documentation.

To configure a client application in Visual Studio using the StackExchange.Redis NuGet package, right-click the project in Solution Explorer and choose Manage NuGet Packages.

Manage NuGet packages

Type StackExchange.Redis or StackExchange.Redis.StrongName into the search text box, select the desired version from the results, and click Install.


If you prefer to use a strong-named version of the StackExchange.Redis client library, choose StackExchange.Redis.StrongName; otherwise choose StackExchange.Redis.

StackExchange.Redis NuGet package

The NuGet package downloads and adds the required assembly references for your client application to access Azure Cache for Redis with the StackExchange.Azure Cache for Redis client.


If you have previously configured your project to use StackExchange.Redis, you can check for updates to the package from the NuGet Package Manager. To check for and install updated versions of the StackExchange.Redis NuGet package, click Updates in the NuGet Package Manager window. If an update to the StackExchange.Redis NuGet package is available, you can update your project to use the updated version.

You can also install the StackExchange.Redis NuGet package by clicking NuGet Package Manager, Package Manager Console from the Tools menu, and running the following command from the Package Manager Console window.

Install-Package StackExchange.Redis

Migrate Managed Cache Service code

The API for the StackExchange.Azure Cache for Redis client is similar to the Managed Cache Service. This section provides an overview of the differences.

Connect to the cache using the ConnectionMultiplexer class

In Managed Cache Service, connections to the cache were handled by the DataCacheFactory and DataCache classes. In Azure Cache for Redis, these connections are managed by the ConnectionMultiplexer class.

Add the following using statement to the top of any file from which you want to access the cache.

using StackExchange.Redis

If this namespace doesn’t resolve, be sure that you have added the StackExchange.Redis NuGet package as described in Quickstart: Use Azure Cache for Redis with a .NET application.


Note that the StackExchange.Redis client requires .NET Framework 4 or higher.

To connect to an Azure Cache for Redis instance, call the static ConnectionMultiplexer.Connect method and pass in the endpoint and key. One approach to sharing a ConnectionMultiplexer instance in your application is to have a static property that returns a connected instance, similar to the following example. This approach provides a thread-safe way to initialize a single connected ConnectionMultiplexer instance. In this example abortConnect is set to false, which means that the call will succeed even if a connection to the cache is not established. One key feature of ConnectionMultiplexer is that it will automatically restore connectivity to the cache once the network issue or other causes are resolved.

private static Lazy<ConnectionMultiplexer> lazyConnection = new Lazy<ConnectionMultiplexer>(() =>
    return ConnectionMultiplexer.Connect("contoso5.redis.cache.windows.net,abortConnect=false,ssl=true,password=...");

public static ConnectionMultiplexer Connection
        return lazyConnection.Value;

The cache endpoint, keys, and ports can be obtained from the Azure Cache for Redis blade for your cache instance. For more information, see Azure Cache for Redis properties.

Once the connection is established, return a reference to the Azure Cache for Redis database by calling the ConnectionMultiplexer.GetDatabase method. The object returned from the GetDatabase method is a lightweight pass-through object and does not need to be stored.

IDatabase cache = Connection.GetDatabase();

// Perform cache operations using the cache object...
// Simple put of integral data types into the cache
cache.StringSet("key1", "value");
cache.StringSet("key2", 25);

// Simple get of data types from the cache
string key1 = cache.StringGet("key1");
int key2 = (int)cache.StringGet("key2");

The StackExchange.Redis client uses the RedisKey and RedisValue types for accessing and storing items in the cache. These types map onto most primitive language types, including string, and often are not used directly. Redis Strings are the most basic kind of Redis value, and can contain many types of data, including serialized binary streams, and while you may not use the type directly, you will use methods that contain String in the name. For most primitive data types, you store and retrieve items from the cache using the StringSet and StringGet methods, unless you are storing collections or other Redis data types in the cache.

StringSet and StringGet are similar to the Managed Cache Service Put and Get methods, with one major difference being that before you set and get a .NET object into the cache you must serialize it first.

When calling StringGet, if the object exists, it is returned, and if it does not, null is returned. In this case, you can retrieve the value from the desired data source and store it in the cache for subsequent use. This pattern is known as the cache-aside pattern.

To specify the expiration of an item in the cache, use the TimeSpan parameter of StringSet.

cache.StringSet("key1", "value1", TimeSpan.FromMinutes(90));

Azure Cache for Redis can work with .NET objects as well as primitive data types, but before a .NET object can be cached it must be serialized. This serialization is the responsibility of the application developer, and gives the developer flexibility in the choice of the serializer. For more information and sample code, see Work with .NET objects in the cache.

Migrate ASP.NET Session State and Output caching to Azure Cache for Redis

Azure Cache for Redis has providers for both ASP.NET Session State and Page Output caching. To migrate your application that uses the Managed Cache Service versions of these providers, first remove the existing sections from your web.config, and then configure the Azure Cache for Redis versions of the providers. For instructions on using the Azure Cache for Redis ASP.NET providers, see ASP.NET Session State Provider for Azure Cache for Redis and ASP.NET Output Cache Provider for Azure Cache for Redis.

Next steps

Explore the Azure Cache for Redis documentation for tutorials, samples, videos, and more.