Application Performance Engineering

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Thinking cloud is thinking application-centric. Organizations utilize public cloud offerings because they want to focus on their revenue-generating applications rather than managing infrastructure. And from there we already can draw the significance of Application Performance Management (APM) in public cloud computing environments. If we focus on our application, a focus on its performance is essential. Even more important than that is how our application's performance is perceived by our users. To gain this insight, it is crucial to monitor our application's performance from our users' perspective; that's where User Experience Management (UEM) comes into play. In my previous post I discussed how APM and UEM are cornerstones in successful public cloud deployments by means of the time cockpit example; now I want to spend some time on the paradigms that I perceive as... (more)

Advanced Performance Analysis

Just in time for our speaking session at SenchaCon 2013 we are happy to announce the latest version of Compuware APM/dynaTrace AJAX Edition. Version 4.2 now supports the latest versions of Firefox (FF 21 & FF 22). Download the latest version from ourAJAX Edition website. SenchaCon 2013 Session Preview If you happen to be at SenchaCon 2013 then consider checking out our session. I will show you how to best leverage the AJAX Edition to analyze and optimize Page Load as well User Interaction times of modern web applications for both Internet Explorer as well as Firefox. We start by giving new AJAX Edition users a brief introduction on the core functionality but will then mainly talk about advanced features and Best Practices on both browser-side performance but also the impact that modern browser technologies have on the overall application performance - especially unde... (more)

The Anatomy of APM

By embracing End-User-Experience (EUE) measurements as a key vehicle for demonstrating productivity, you build trust with your constituents in a very tangible way.  The translation of IT metrics into business meaning (value) is what APM is all about. The goal here is to simplify a complicated technology space by walking through a high-level view within each core element.  I'm suggesting that the success factors in APM adoption center around the EUE and the integration touch points with the ITIL / ITSM processes. When looking at APM at 20,000 feet, four foundational elements come into view: Top Down Monitoring Bottom Up Monitoring ITIL / ITSM Processes Reporting & Analytics Top Down Monitoring This is also referred to as Real-time Application monitoring that focuses on the End-User-Experience.  It has two has two components, Passive and Active.  Passive monitoring ... (more)

Learning to Expect the Unexpected: Load Test Before It’s Too Late

At times, I can be a bit of a procrastinator. If there is no pressing need to clean out the garage this week, shop for holiday gifts, or do my taxes, I can easily be convinced to let it go until next week or next month. Inevitably, though, something happens that makes me wish I hadn't delayed quite as long as I did. The garage gets flooded, for example, and the boxes that I had been meaning to organize get soaked and destroyed... or my Valentine's Day gift doesn't get shipped in time and I'm left holding the bag. I'm sure many of you can think of your own examples. Unfortunately, many organizations tend to treat load testing as one of those activities that they can put off until a later day. You can almost imagine what they're thinking: "Our website is up and handling the daily load with little difficulty. Yes, there's a major advertising campaign - or new product ... (more)

Can a Dedicated Server Equate to an Immediate Performance Boost?

Performance is your website’s first impression to visitors. Almost 50% of users expect a web page to load within two seconds. The move from a shared server to a dedicated server can alleviate many of a website’s performance issues and improve overall revenue and user experience. Shared hosting, by contrast, has hundreds of other websites on the same server. All bandwidth, server memory, hard drive space and CPU cycles are shared with other website owners. Database servers are also shared with these hundreds of other site owners. The result can be a bottleneck at the server-level. Dedicated servers are leased or fully purchased machines completely controlled by the webmaster. All server resources and databases are dedicated to the one business. Bandwidth, which plays a major role in how quickly a page loads, is also dedicated to the server, so no other website traff... (more)

When It REALLY Is the Database to Blame for Bad Performance

Far too often "the database" is blamed for impacting performance and scalability of applications. In many cases, however, it turns out that it's not the database itself, but the way the database is accessed by the application. Common problem patterns are requesting too much data, inefficient queries, lack of data caching, and waste connection usage, for example. But, there are cases where the database is to be blamed. This is the scenario of the following story one of our customers shared with me: The company runs 4 JVMs in a WebLogic cluster with each of them having a connection pool to its Oracle database with 20 max connections. They have setup proper application monitoring which includes both system monitoring and application and real user monitoring. Here is what happened on December 16th at 2PM. Step 1: Alerting on Connection Pool Exhaustion As part of its ap... (more)

Eleven Tips to Becoming a Better Performance Engineer

The ability to conduct effective performance testing has become a highly desired skillset within the IT industry. Unfortunately, these highly sought-after skills are consistently in short supply. "Front-end testers" can work with a tool to create a realistic load and although this is an important skillset, creating the load is just the beginning of any performance project. Understanding the load patterns and tuning the environment makes the unique talents of a "performance engineer" worth their weight in gold. Performance engineers require skills in data analysis such as resource usage patterns, modeling, capacity planning, and tuning in order to detect, isolate, and alleviate saturation points within a deployment. Performance testing generates concurrency conditions and exposes resource competition at a server level. When the competition results in a resource (such ... (more)

Real-World Application Performance with MongoDB

Recently FireScope Inc. introduced the general availability of its Stratis product. Stratis brings all of the FireScope Unify capabilities to the cloud, with the added advantage of a new architecture that delivers near infinite scalability. Moreover, the new Stratis architecture provides scalability at all application layers including its back-end operations, which were newly designed to leverage the benefits of MongoDB. In this article we will discuss several of the architecture choices that were made as part of this effort with the hope that others might benefit from the research and analysis that was performed to bring this product to market. As background a functioning FireScope deployment has the ability to gather metrics from all forms of existing IT assets, normalize the gathered metrics, provide historical analysis of the metrics, and most importantly provid... (more)

Why Averages Are Inadequate, and Percentiles Are Great

Anyone who ever monitored or analyzed an application uses or has used averages. They are simple to understand and calculate. We tend to ignore just how wrong the picture is that averages paint of the world. To emphasis the point let me give you a real-world example outside of the performance space that I read recently in a newspaper. The article was explaining that the average salary in a certain region in Europe was 1900 Euro's (to be clear this would be quite good in that region!). However when looking closer they found out that the majority, namely 9 out of 10 people, only earned around 1000 Euros and one would earn 10.000 (I over simplified this of course, but you get the idea). If you do the math you will see that the average of this is indeed 1900, but we can all agree that this does not represent the "average" salary as we would use the word in day to day li... (more)

The Importance of Accurately Modeling User Interactions in Performance Testing

Load testing, perhaps more than any other form of testing, is one of those activities that you either choose to do well or risk a result that leaves you worse off than not doing it at all. Half-hearted attempts at load testing yield "results," but too often those results are inaccurate, leading to a false sense of security for anyone who trusts them. This, in turn, leads to the release of applications that are not adequately tested and that experience performance problems soon after entering production. I was reminded of this not long ago, when I worked with a customer who related an experience that may sound familiar to many of you. This customer was a test engineer for a bank that had recently merged with another bank, effectively doubling their customer base. He was part of a team responsible for load testing a new web application that would serve customers from b... (more)

Part 3 | Five Steps to Improve E-Commerce Performance for Increased Sales

This is the third episode of the mini-series on e-commerce performance management. Our client TescaraHats (name changed for commercial reasons), a European market leader in manufacturing customized hats, did not achieve the expected sales increase with its new e-commerce site. It offered its customers the ability to customize and order hats online instead of visiting its brick and mortar locations, but customers seemed disinterested. TescaraHats learned quickly that there is much more to an e-commerce platform than simply putting an e-commerce service online. In previous posts we showed that increasing page rank is not the only way to boost sales and that checking and improving back-end performance of your e-commerce is also critical. In this episode we show why you should not keep network load and HTTP errors in check. Avoid Unnecessary Network Load Although broad... (more)