Solutions and use cases Tutorial


This tutorial will show you how to configure Varnish for some different use cases.

Fast video streaming

When it comes to streaming on HTTP, there are two ways of delivering video content. You can serve the entire file and let the browser ask for the parts as the video is played or you can split the media file into smaller objects (segments) and provide a playlist (manifest). The playlist contains the names, location, and sequence of playback of these segments along with metadata that describes resolution, bitrates, etc. For both cases, we can leverage HTTP caching with Varnish. Though the segmented streaming model is popular these days, we’re going to focus mostly on the latter.

Linear streaming

This is the live streaming of a scheduled event where all the viewers are watching the same content. Because of this, the dataset is very limited, which lets us cache media file segments and manifest files into memory. Setting up basic configurations for linear streaming is quite simple.


vcl 4.0;
import std;
backend default {
    .host = "";
    .port = "80";
acl purge {
sub vcl_recv {
    if (req.method == "PURGE"){
        if (!client.ip ~ purge) {
            return (synth (401, "Unauthorized."));
        return (purge);
    return (hash);

sub vcl_backend_response {
    set beresp.do_stream = true;
    if (bereq.url ~ "m3u8") {
        # assuming chunks are 4 seconds long
        set beresp.ttl = 3s;
        set beresp.grace = 0s;
    } else {
        set beresp.ttl = 120s;

In the backend response, we set TTL to three seconds and grace to zero seconds when bereq.url contains m3u8. M3U8 files contain the playlist for your media, and you should set the TTL of these manifest files to a low number, depending on the segmenting in the source. This is because the manifest file needs to be updated as new segments are introduced into the screen.

You can set longer TTLs for the segments, depending on how long you need the segments in the cache. In this example, we think 120s is a reasonable value.

Varnish can also deliver the object to the client as soon as bits start to flow into Varnish, while fetching the whole object is ongoing. This feature can be beneficial for reducing latency. You can enable it by setting set beresp.do_stream = true;.

Over-the-top streaming

OTT streaming provides us with a huge catalog of titles. Therefore, the dataset in OTT streaming is massive; you’ll need more than memory to store all the cache. Fortunately, Varnish has its own advanced stevedore, MSE (Massive Storage Engine), for persisting a large amount of cache to a disk. Some Varnish customers even use MSE with storage of over 100TB. As the TTL and the storage size can vary greatly depending on the content, you’ll need to configure values that suit your needs.

You can read a detailed explanation of MSE here.

Scale with Varnish High Availability

As the number of clients mounts, you’ll want to set up more Varnish instances to meet the demands. However, more Varnish servers means that the backend will have to bear the burden of populating all Varnish instances with cached content, which can overload your origin server. VHA provides the functionality of content replication between Varnish instances, effectively reducing the number of requests hitting the origin server.

Read more about VHA.

Increase content security

Varnish Software provides a customizable security package for customers to implement increased security measures to combat known threats and unknown vulnerabilities.


At some point in data transport, the sender and the receiver lose the control of the data. So it’s important to authenticate the other party in a connection, check the integrity of data, and provide encrypted protection. Varnish Enterprise offers support for using TLS on backend connections and In-Process TLS offloading.

Total encryption

Every cache object has its unique AES256 encryption key. This requires knowledge of that object’s unique key and associated request to decrypt its cache, meaning that leaking the cache would require breaking AES256 encryption for each object in the cache. The links below provide related resources:

Web Application Firewall

The Varnish WAF will let you set your own security rules - Modsecurity style, and will help protect your backend from predatory traffic. Like in the documentation, OWASP CRS can be installed and included in the VCL file. You can find more details in the following links:

JSON Web Token

This allows secure transmission of information between parties as a JSON object. Varnish has the JWT vmod, which enables manipulation, creation, and verification of JWT and JWS tokens.

Other Varnish Modules

Our VMODs allow customers to control how and when they detect malicious traffic patterns. For example, vmod-bodyaccess helps identify potentially dangerous traffic and vmod-vsthrottle will limit incoming requests when suspicious activity is detected.