Patching SharePoint is one of those things I enjoy. The excitement of unwrapping a brand new SharePoint patch is second only to getting a new tie or socks on Christmas morning. When I heard this news I just had to share it with you all. We get to patch AppFabric now! Hurray!
SharePoint 2013 introduced some new functionality, the Distributed Cache. Simply put, the Distributed Cache is a service that caches things like authentication tokens and social newsfeeds, stuff like that. The whole list is in this TechNet article. The process that does this is a product called AppFabric, and it’s installed and configured when you run the SharePoint 2013 Prereq installer. AppFabric is a standalone product, but it’s best to let SharePoint handle the installation and configuration. The Distributed Cache took a page out of the User Profile Service’s book. It can be very fussy when it’s angry.
When SharePoint 2013 first came out we were given strict instructions by Microsoft not to fool with the AppFabric pieces of the Distributed Cache. We might fancy ourselves AppFabric experts, but SharePoint wants it a very particular way, so we should use SharePoint tools to interact with that. That included patching. We were told even if an AppFabric patch knocked on our door and asked us nicely to install it, even if it used Sir or Ma’am, we were to say no. We were to let the SharePoint patches take care of patching AppFabric and the Distributed Cache.
Recently Microsoft reversed its position on SharePoint administrators patching AppFabric. Not only are we now allowed to patch AppFabric, it’s actually recommended that we patch it to at least CU4.