Which version of Varnish should you use?

Tags: ops (12)

Varnish is under continuous development by the Varnish Cache community and by Varnish Software. Various versions and incarnations of Varnish are currently available.

This tutorial explains the various versions of Varnish and when to use them.

Varnish Cache community releases

The Varnish Cache community focuses on the development of new versions and releases two new versions of Varnish every year:

  • One on March 15th
  • One on September 15th

These new versions may include new features, but they also contain bug fixes. The community only support the latest version of Varnish and the one before that.

At this point in time, the following versions are supported:

  • Varnish Cache 6.6
  • Varnish Cache 7.0

These releases are so-called fresh releases and do not guarantee backward compatibility. Every now and then the Varnish Cache community publishes maintenance releases for its currently supported versions.

The packages for these versions are available on Packagecloud.

View the packages for Varnish Cache on Packagecloud

Varnish Software releases

Varnish Software maintains 2 other versions of Varnish:

  • Varnish Cache 6.0 LTS
  • Varnish Enterprise 6

Varnish Cache 6.0 LTS

Varnish Cache 6.0 LTS is a Long-Term Supported version of Varnish that guarantees backwards compatibility. Bug are fixed on a frequent basis and select features from fresh Varnish releases are backported.

View the packages for Varnish Cache 6.0 LTS on Packagecloud

Varnish Enterprise 6

Varnish Enterprise 6 is the commercial version of Varnish. It is based on Varnish Cache 6.0 LTS but comes with a lot of extra features.

Varnish Enterprise is more than an enterprise-grade varnishd program. It is a product suite that offers the following components:

  • The Enterprise varnishd program
  • Varnish High Availability: a high availability and replication solution
  • Varnish Broadcaster: an HTTP request broadcasting solution
  • Varnish Controller: a management suite for Varnish Enterprise
  • Varnish WAF: a Web Application Firewall module
  • Varnish Custom Statistics

The enterprise version of Varnish offers some extra core features:

  • Support for backend TLS
  • Native client TLS support
  • Massive Storage Engine
  • Parallel ESI
  • TCP-only probes
  • JSON logging

And on top of that a vast array of Varnish Modules (VMODs).

Varnish Enterprise clients also get SLA-backed professional support from Varnish Software’s engineers.

Learn more about the Varnish Enterprise features

Which version of Varnish should you use?

  • If you’re looking for a stable version of Varnish 6 that can be used for a prolonged period of time, we advise you to use Varnish 6.0 LTS
  • If you want to experiment with new features in Varnish, the fresh releases can be used
  • If you’re looking for an enterprise-grade solution and need some of the commercial features, Varnish Enterprise 6 is what you need