In this quick post to the Purple Rock Scissors blog, there's a suggestion from Rob Zienert about how you can avoid a "cache stampede" on your site's caching tool with the help of a pseudo-lock on the record.
A cache stampede occurs when a cached item expires and multiple clients attempt to repopulate the cache at the same time. Take for example a page cache expires and a few thousand people try to refresh the generated HTML. That's a lot of instant load - hitting the database, re-saving the cache and so-on: it's a lot of extra processing that can bring a website to its knees. One of the many ways to avoid this from happening is to apply pseudo-locks to a cache (and works great with Memcache).
He includes a code snippet example showing how to create the lock using a Zend_Cache setup by looking for a URI-based lock file and setting a "locked" value to true when someone else is using it.