Application Performance Engineering

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A question that every online application provider will face eventually is: Does my application scale? Can I add an extra 100 users and still ensure the same user experience? If the application architecture is properly designed the easiest way is to put an additional server behind the load balancer to handle more traffic. In this article we recount an incident that happened to one of our clients when the cause of poor application performance was eventually attributed to problems with the load balancing of the application servers. HTTP Server (500) Errors Go Over the Roof Around 8 am the Operations team at Rendoosia Inc. (name changed for commercial reasons) got an alert from the APM tool that one of three SharePoint servers was generating many HTTP Server (500) errors. All three servers were behind a load balancer; hence why the team decided to analyze the overall p... (more)

An APM Solution: Well-Grounded

A look into ITIL's Continual Service Improvement (CSI) model and the Application Performance Management (APM) framework indicates they are both focused on improvement. I see them as being two sides of the same coin. APM defines the approach and toolsets that CSI uses while leveraging specific processes in Service Design, Service Transition, and Service Operation. If you’re thinking about how to build a sustainable APM solution and how it can be anchored into the IT culture, consider focusing on the integration touch points with existing IT processes. Within the CSI model there are certain ITIL processes that weave themselves in and through the APM methodology that create a fabric of continuous improvement for application performance. The Incident Management Process is one of these threads and is germane to a successful APM strategy. This process is focused on going ... (more)

Four Lessons that Operations Can Learn from Batman

In honor of the summer blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises, let’s take a look at one of the most celebrated heroes in history - Batman. (Okay, granted, he’s not real. But that doesn’t mean he can’t help us understand some best practices regarding application uptime and availability, right? Look, just bear with me here.) 1. Always have the right tools. Batman knows his limitations: he doesn’t have superpowers (unlike my esteemed colleague, App Man). He’s just an ordinary guy with a weird-looking suit and five tons of cash. So what does he do? He buys batarangs, batcopters, bat anti-shark repellant, etc. He know that in order to give himself an edge against the forces of darkness, he needs serious gadgets. Similarly, Application Operations teams need to recognize that they shouldn’t wade into a production outage or firefight without some kind of application managemen... (more)

Bridging the Chasm

If you are an IT manager, application owner, architect or developer in a corporation leveraging a mainframe, then today is a revolutionary day: Application Performance Management is now available end-to-end for the mainframe. Read about how this will drastically change the way we manage developing, refining, testing and bug-fixing applications involving a mainframe. The Pain Are you a mainframe developer that spent hours optimizing mainframe code and still receive complaints about bad mainframe performance from the distributed guys? Or are you a Java or .NET developer calling mainframe transactions and not satisfied with their performance? Stop playing the blame-game. APM extended its end-to-end scope and can now follow every single transaction into the mainframe, 24x7: End-to-end visibility for the mainframe has arrived. Developers and architects are now able to ... (more)

The Penetration of Application Complexity and Interdependency

The smart investment money in software application development is in the management layer. Actually that's not true, the smart money is probably on almost every level of the application development lifecycle; but the deployment, release automation, testing, governance and release management layer is now developing to a level of fabulously penetrating enrichment never quite seen before. As firms now view a total IT stack populated with complex interdependent applications, the simultaneous deployment of multiple pieces of interlocking software has to be performed with an eye on both the code itself and the infrastructure that supports them. App Change = Code Change + Infrastructure Change At the code level, changes to one interdependent application can have an impact on perhaps a dozen other apps that share interdependencies engineered deep into their core layers. In... (more)

Deploying APM in the Enterprise | Part 4

Deploying APM in the Enterprise. In the last installment we covered how you find, test, and justify purchasing an APM solution. This blog will focus on what to do after you’ve made a purchase and started down the path of deploying your coveted APM tool (ahem, ahem, AppDynamics, ahem). Just clearing my throat, let’s jump right in… Welcome to Part 4 of my series It’s time for a celebration, time to break out the champagne, time to spike the football and do your end zone dance (easy there Michael Jackson, don’t hurt yourself). All of the hours you spent turning data into meaningful information, dealing with software vendors, writing requirements, testing solutions, documenting your findings, writing business justifications, and generally bending over backwards to ensure that no objection would stand in your way has culminated in management approving your purchase of A... (more)

Super Bowl Sunday 2013 – Winners, Losers, and Casualties

No matter which team you were cheering for (or if you even watched the game at all), Super Bowl Sunday 2013 was more than a football game. Since the late 1990s, Super Bowl advertisers have tried to successfully link their TV ads to their online properties, sometimes with mixed results. Even 15 years later, companies can't always predict how well their sites will perform on the big day. But unlike the early days of TV/online campaigns, the problems are more complex than a site going down under heavy traffic. This year, some of the world's premier brands spent millions of dollars on 30 second and one-minute ad blocks (as well as millions for the creation of the ads) during the Super Bowl, all of which were tied directly to online or social media campaigns. However, not all the sites successfully resisted the onslaught of traffic. The measurement results from the Comp... (more)

Compuware Launches Mobile Application Performance Monitoring Service

"Our customers tell us they need better solutions for managing mobile applications. They started with crash analytics, but as mobile applications have become mainstream, they now want crash, performance and business analytics all in one easy-to-use solution," said Steve Tack, Vice President of Product Management for Compuware's APM business unit, as Compuware announced the availability of the free Compuware APM Mobile Application Monitoring Service, a solution that combines crash, performance and business analytics for native mobile applications. "As mobile applications become industrialized, operations, development and business teams are looking for all three dimensions in a single Mobile APM solution," explained Tack. Compuware pioneered mobile APM, first delivering solutions more than three years ago. This new free offering enables mobile application and operati... (more)

Part 4 | Five Steps to Improve E-Commerce Performance for Increased Sales

Our client TescaraHats (name changed for commercial reasons), a European market leader in manufacturing customized hats, set up an e-commerce site in hopes of increasing its market share and boost its sales. This did not happen. TescaraHats learned quickly that there is much more to e-commerce performance than simply putting an e-commerce service online. In Parts 1-3 of our e-commerce performance mini-series we discussed why focusing on page rank is not enough and that we should look at your performance at the back end and potential network-related problems. In Part 4 we will see what happens when your customers come to your e-commerce site. Does Your E-Commerce Scale? When all the pieces of creating a successful e-commerce application finally harmonize, your site must be ready to take the load. Otherwise you will become a victim of your own success. Provided that yo... (more)

Evaluating the Performance of SPDY-Enabled Web Servers

As you may already know, SPDY (pronounced "SPeeDY") is a new networking protocol introduced by Google and designed to reduce the web latency associated with HTTP. With SPDY, web pages load up to 64 percent faster than HTTP alone, according to Google. It accomplishes this by adding a session layer between HTTP and SSL that supports concurrent, interleaved streams over a single TCP connection. The initial draft of HTTP/2.0, the future of the web, is based on SPDY, which is a welcome step forward considering that HTTP/1.0 was released in 1996. SPDY holds great potential for mobile devices, for which latency is more of an issue, and the market is catching on. As evidence of this, Microsoft recently announced the next version of Internet Explorer will support the new protocol. Today, SPDY can be deployed on Apache by installing a single module (mod-spdy, the Apache SPDY... (more)

Performance Impact of Exceptions: Why Ops, Test and Dev Need to Care

Does your Ops team care about the number of Exceptions thrown in the application - do they even monitor this number? Does your Test Team report the list of Exceptions thrown during a load test to engineering or are they just sending those that end up in a logfile? Is development interested in the Exceptions that are thrown within frameworks while executing their unit tests? Why should they care? Is there a real impact on performance that comes from a couple of exceptions? Two years ago Alois Reitbauer wrote a nice article about The Cost of an Exception, which is typically hard to evaluate. After a recent deployment of a new version we saw that 30% of the CPU on our application server was consumed by creating Exception objects - these were Exceptions that never made it to a logfile - so nobody really cared until we identified it as being a performance impact on the ... (more)