Application Performance Engineering

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Your Next Move During an IT Postmortem Review Can a postmortem review help foster a curiosity for innovative possibilities to make application performance better? Blue-sky thinkers may not want to deal with the myriad of details on how to manage the events being generated operationally, but could learn something from this exercise. Consider the major system failures in your organization over the last 12 to 18 months. What if you had a system or process in place to capture those failures and mitigate them from a proactive standpoint preventing them from reoccurring? How much better off would you be if you could avoid the proverbial "Groundhog Day" with system outages? The argument that system monitoring is just a nice to have, and not really a core requirement for operational readiness, dissipates quickly when a critical application goes down with no warning. Startin... (more)

Part 2: An Integrated Approach to Load Test Analysis

In a Part 1, I demonstrated how to add more depth to the analysis of a Compuware APM Web Load Test by combining the external load results with the application and infrastructure data collected by the Compuware PureStack Technology. But, now that we have tested the system once, what would happen if we tested it again after we identified and "resolved" the issues we found? Would running a test using the same parameters as in the initial test show a clear performance improvement? Would the system be able to achieve the desired load of 200 virtual users with little or no performance degradation? This article takes you through the steps you should follow in order to directly compare the results of two load tests and measure the performance improvement (or degradation) that occurred with the fixes put in place. Step 1: Identify issues and implement changes based on initial ... (more)

Monitoring Magic and the Future of APM

At the time when we were looking for a monitoring solution (2006-2007) APM as we know it today had yet to be defined. There was no Gartner MQ, real-user-monitoring (RUM) was too high level, “agent monitoring” brought concerns of overhead and complexity, instrumenting the application meant to ARM it (i.e., Application Response Measurement), and transaction tagging was a pipe dream. This created a fierce debate on the risks and rewards of agent vs. agentless monitoring, read The Monitoring Duality of APM. So, when we were developing our monitoring approach, our first priority was to do no harm, then collect performance metrics. We first implemented agentless RUM technology (i.e. wire data analytics) to gain insight into the application behavior and build a baseline that captured a normal workload. Secondly we focused on synthetic transactions to provide visibility d... (more)

Deploying APM in the Enterprise … Part 1 of More Than 1

It’s interesting as a parent watching your kids grow up and learn how to do things for themselves. I have 2 boys ages 6 and 7 and they often amaze me and confound me. There are times when I think they are absolutely brilliant and other times where I think that significant amounts of remedial education may be in their futures. Duct Tape, and Knives, and Hammers Oh My I recall a time not long ago when my kids first discovered the wonders of duct tape. What a magical substance. They really thought that you could fix anything with duct tape. Broke a lamp? Duct Tape! Cut your finger? Duct Tape! Building a boat out of sticks? Duct Tape! (Seriously, my oldest boy actually tried this.) After getting some less than stellar results with duct tape in many situations the next wonder tool discovery was the knife. Wow, knives were amazing! They could cut your pieces of duct tape... (more)

Building and Maintaining an Application Performance Community

Two years ago, my team decided to extend our community portal to become "a real"APM Community where members (both commercial and free products) can go to find help and educational content on all topics regarding Application Performance Management (APM). The most critical pieces to that community were: free access to all relevant content (documentation, best practices, knowledge base, downloads) as well as a very active discussion forum where members can get answers to their questions. Two years later I have to say we achieved this goal with more than 60,000 registered members. In this blog I want to first share the Lessons Learned and then discuss the ideas we have for the future. Lesson #1: Give Access to Content We know that APM is a very broad topic. We have many best practices on how to analyze, optimize and manage application performance from small to enterprise... (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)

So What? – Monitoring Hadoop Beyond Ganglia

Over the last couple of months I have been talking to more and more customers who are either bringing their Hadoop clusters into production or have already done so and are now getting serious about operations. This leads to some interesting discussions about how to monitor Hadoop properly and one thing pops up quite often: Do they need anything beyond Ganglia? If yes, what should they do beyond it? The Basics As in every other system, monitoring in a Hadoop environment starts with the basics: System Metrics - CPU, Disk, Memory you know the drill. Of special importance in a Hadoop system is a well-balanced cluster; you don't want to have some nodes being much more (or less) utilized then others. Besides CPU and memory utilization, Disk utilization and of course I/O throughput is of high importance. After all the most likely bottleneck in a Big Data system is I/O - e... (more)

Fix Memory Leaks in Java Production Applications

Adding more memory to your JVMs (Java Virtual Machines) might be a temporary solution to fixing memory leaks in Java applications, but it for sure won't fix the root cause of the issue. Instead of crashing once per day it may just crash every other day. "Preventive" restarts are also just another desperate measure to minimize downtime, but, let's be frank: this is not how production issues should be solved. One of our customers - a large online retail store - ran into such an issue. They run one of their online gift card self-service interfaces on two JVMs. During peak holiday seasons when users are activating their gift cards or checking the balance, crashes due to OOM (Out Of Memory) were more frequent, which caused bad user experience. The first "measure" they took was to double the JVM Heap Size. This didn't solve the problem as JVMs were still crashing, so the... (more)

Five Steps to Improve E-Commerce Performance for Increased Sales

The saying "if it doesn't exist on the Internet, it doesn't exist"[1] is ringing truer every day. Nowadays, it is hard to imagine most businesses without an e-commerce platform, let alone without a web presence at all. Since e-commerce is becoming the new standard, e-commerce performance needs to be at its best. In this blog series, I have come up with several ways to ensure your company's e-commerce performance success, including: avoiding unnecessary network load,reducing number of (internal) HTTP errors, improving backend performance,understanding your clients, ensuring scalability of e-commerce site and finally understanding sales results through conversion rate. Our client TescaraHats (name changed for commercial reasons), a European market leader in manufacturing customized hats, decided to expand its market reach with an e-commerce site where its potential c... (more)

How Internet Outages Can Affect Your Application

Complexity is the new reality of web and mobile applications with almost no new release going out without the addition of services and applications spread across many different companies. But the reality of this new interrelationship is still the same: If a third-party Internet outage or issue occurs, your brand is the one that is affected. With up to 1,500 distinct third-party services available to choose from around the world, it is sometimes difficult to even identify what a service does when it appears in your applications. This forces your team to not only be fully aware of the components you control, but also to be able to follow the trail of services that extends far outside the code and systems your company manages when issues appear. Using Compuware Outage Analyzer data, it is now easier to open a window to these services, seeing data collected across all c... (more)

Make PHP Requests “Sleep” to Stop Bad Behavior. Smart or Not?

In a previous post we showed how we hooked up our blog's WordPress application with the new Compuware APMaaS offering. Since WordPress is a PHP application we use PurePath for PHP to monitor it. We highlighted that we got an alert about a response time violation on some of our blog posts - which is shown in the following screenshot. Dynamic Baselining detects a significant violation of the baseline during a 4.5 hour period last night In this follow-up article I want to show you how we get to the root cause of this problem which turns out to be a third-party WordPress PHP plugin that detects Bad Requests including requests from Bots that try to put spam messages in blog comments. Step 1: See PHP Performance Hotspots For the selected time-frame, we open the Response Time Hotspot dashboard. This shows which layer of the PHP Application has the highest performance con... (more)