Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Mobile IoT

Microservices Expo: Article

Five Overlooked Factors of Mobile Application Performance

Why addressing them can help you triumph in the mobile arms race

Too often, little consideration is given to performance testing in the context of mobile application testing. We are reaching a tipping point in how consumers are accessing the Internet, with more than 50% of users expected to access the Web via a mobile device by the end of 2013. With this increase in mobile usage comes the need (really, a requirement) for organizations to meet an increased expectation in application performance.

As users demand the same experience whether they are accessing Web-based content from their smart phones, tablets, or laptop computers, the performance of your mobile application has never been more crucial to the performance of your bottom line. Not only are user expectations creating a need for better performing apps, your competitors are rushing to mobilize their apps, creating a sort of "mobile arms race" in which the loser risks market share, customers, and revenue. To effectively compete and meet user expectations, you need to ensure that performance testing is central to all aspects of your app development process.

Here are five overlooked factors in mobile application performance that, if addressed, will help your company triumph in, rather than be crushed by, the mobile arms race.

#1 Time to start addressing performance issues
When it comes to performance testing your mobile application, good things do not come to those who wait. The longer you wait, the more expensive it will be to fix any issues you uncover. It can be up to 100x more expensive to find and fix problems with your app after deploying to production than it is to address performance throughout the development process. But when in your design process should you start testing for and taking performance into consideration?  This is something you should be doing from the word "go". Build performance service level objectives (SLOs) into your development objectives so that QA and functional testing teams have performance goals. Once your SLOs have been established, testing, analyzing, optimizing, and validating those objectives early and often will save you from headaches and lost revenue associated with post-deployment performance nightmares.

#2 Instability of networks
You cannot control the network but you can control how your application will perform in the network. When testing app performance, many companies do so in isolation, under pristine network conditions. As anyone who has traveled, had a call dropped, service interrupted, or tried to connect to the network at a tech conference knows, network conditions change throughout the day and from location to location. Without taking this variability into account when testing your app, you will not have a clear sense of your app's performance in the real world. By planning for the variability of the network throughout the development life cycle and incorporating real-world network conditions into the testing environment, you will have a much better chance of deploying an app that performs up to your SLOs regardless of where or when it is used.

#3 Discovery
Know thy device. Know thy network. Know thy user. These discovery mantras will keep you focused on key areas of application performance. How will your app run on iPhone vs. Android, iPad vs. Kindle Fire, Verizon vs. AT&T, 4G vs. 3G, New York vs. LA, London vs. Tokyo? Each device, network, and location has its own set of limitations that you will have to account for as a developer. To get your app to meet SLOs, including varying geographic or user-specific SLOs, you have to test for each and every variable. With network, software, and device upgrades being introduced seemingly on infinite loop, it is necessary to continue this in-depth testing throughout the lifecycle of your app.

#4 Designing for performance
What makes a great sports car is twofold. First, it has to look fantastic. Second, and more importantly, it has to perform. Without world-class technology under the hood, it is not a machine, but art. The same principle applies to an app. It could have the most intuitive user interface design with an outstanding look, feel, and style, but all of that means nothing unless it performs. How do you do this? Consider performance as you design or code. Some critical considerations include being aware of cache space, reducing app turns by combining Java Script files, and placing a premium in your development process on optimizing data sent to and from the app. Make this an ongoing process even after app deployment because as new content is added, the structure and size of your site or app will necessarily change. Also, optimize your content. Different devices will display your app at different sizes and image qualities. Reduce the size of page graphics if needed. Remind your marketing department that even though the company logo does look better with more pixels, your customers are more interested in how fast the image loads, not how big it is. Balancing performance with design is a delicate issue but keep in mind that without this balance, a beautiful app that doesn't load fast enough is like a Ferrari with a Yugo engine. People will try it once but never use it again.

#5 Efficient Delivery Strategies
Not all content for your app has to be sent from your hosting location. By utilizing a Content Delivery Network (CDN), you can easily distribute dynamic content closer to your end users. This will decrease load time, reduce latency, and give users a better interactive experience with your site. For example, if your data is located on servers in San Francisco, users in London will experience greater latency than users in Chicago. By considering early on in the development process what content can be placed on a CDN and having already discovered locations of your end users, you will be able to provide users in remote locations with a faster time to first byte along with overall faster transaction times and increased performance. You also need to consider third party content that will be displayed on your site. Since you have less control over that content and its load times, be sure to, whenever possible, design your application so that it is less dependent upon such third party content.

What Does This All Mean?
Given that most companies are developing and deploying mobile apps not for fun, but to help their business grow, there is significant risk in overlooking these factors. In the mobile arms race, app performance is the new deciding factor in determining which companies profit and which lose customers. By addressing these five factors from the very first stages of mobile application development, you will place your company at an advantage over the competition. Not only will addressing them provide tangible benefits like saving time and money on fixing issues, it will also keep your company's reputation, public image, and customer loyalty in tact, important non-tangibles in a Twitter-driven world. So, plan for performance early, test for it often, and you will have a much greater chance of being victorious in the new mobile arms race.

More Stories By Mark Tomlinson

Mark Tomlinson is the Senior Director, Application Performance Engineering at Shunra Software (www.shunra.com), a Philadelphia-based company that helps firms worldwide ensure application performance and end user experience. He has 20 years of experience of real-world scenario testing of very large and complex systems. He is regarded as an expert and leader in software testing automation with specific emphasis on performance.

Microservices Articles
When building large, cloud-based applications that operate at a high scale, it’s important to maintain a high availability and resilience to failures. In order to do that, you must be tolerant of failures, even in light of failures in other areas of your application. “Fly two mistakes high” is an old adage in the radio control airplane hobby. It means, fly high enough so that if you make a mistake, you can continue flying with room to still make mistakes. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee A...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Lori MacVittie is a subject matter expert on emerging technology responsible for outbound evangelism across F5's entire product suite. MacVittie has extensive development and technical architecture experience in both high-tech and enterprise organizations, in addition to network and systems administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning technology editor at Network Computing Magazine where she evaluated and tested application-focused technologies including app secu...
Containers and Kubernetes allow for code portability across on-premise VMs, bare metal, or multiple cloud provider environments. Yet, despite this portability promise, developers may include configuration and application definitions that constrain or even eliminate application portability. In this session we'll describe best practices for "configuration as code" in a Kubernetes environment. We will demonstrate how a properly constructed containerized app can be deployed to both Amazon and Azure ...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addresse...
The now mainstream platform changes stemming from the first Internet boom brought many changes but didn’t really change the basic relationship between servers and the applications running on them. In fact, that was sort of the point. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Gordon Haff, senior cloud strategy marketing and evangelism manager at Red Hat, will discuss how today’s workloads require a new model and a new platform for development and execution. The platform must handle a wide range of rec...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...