Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Derek Weeks, Mehdi Daoudi, Don MacVittie, John Katrick

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.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Admiral Calcote - also known as Lee Calcote (@lcalcote) or the Ginger Geek to his friends - gave a presentation entitled Characterizing and Contrasting Container Orchestrators at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. Okay, he isn't really an admiral - nor does anyone call him that - but he used the title admiral to describe what container orchestrators do, relating it to an admiral directing a fleet of container ships. You could also say that they are like the conductor of an orchestra, directing...
The past few years have seen a huge increase in the amount of critical IT services that companies outsource to SaaS/IaaS/PaaS providers, be it security, storage, monitoring, or operations. Of course, along with any outsourcing to a service provider comes a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to ensure that the vendor is held financially responsible for any lapses in their service which affect the customer’s end users, and ultimately, their bottom line. SLAs can be very tricky to manage for a number ...
Our work, both with clients and with tools, has lead us to wonder how it is that organizations are handling compliance issues in the cloud. The big cloud vendors offer compliance for their infrastructure, but the shared responsibility model requires that you take certain steps to meet compliance requirements. Which lead us to start poking around a little more. We wanted to get a picture of what was available, and how it was being used. There is a lot of fluidity in this space, as in all things c...
Gaining visibility in today’s sprawling cloud infrastructure is complex and laborious, involving drilling down into tools offered by various cloud services providers. Enterprise IT organizations need smarter and effective tools at their disposal in order to address this pertinent problem. Gaining a 360 - degree view of the cloud costs requires collection and analysis of the cost data across all cloud infrastructures used inside an enterprise.
Some people are directors, managers, and administrators. Others are disrupters. Eddie Webb (@edwardawebb) is an IT Disrupter for Software Development Platforms at Liberty Mutual and was a presenter at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. His talk, Organically DevOps: Building Quality and Security into the Software Supply Chain at Liberty Mutual, looked at Liberty Mutual's transformation to Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and DevOps. For a large, heavily regulated industry, this task...
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to clos...
The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Microservices being modular these are faster to change and enables an evolutionary architecture where systems can change, as the business needs change. Microservices can scale elastically and by being service oriented can enable APIs natively. Microservices also reduce implementation and release cycle time and enables continuous delivery. This paper provides a logical overview of the Mi...
The notion of improving operational efficiency is conspicuously absent from the healthcare debate - neither Obamacare nor the newly proposed GOP plan discusses the impact that a step-function improvement in efficiency could have on access to healthcare (through more capacity), quality of healthcare services (through reduced wait times for patients) or cost (through better utilization of scarce, expensive assets).
Gone are the days when application development was the daunting task of the highly skilled developers backed with strong IT skills, low code application development has democratized app development and empowered a new generation of citizen developers. There was a time when app development was in the domain of people with complex coding and technical skills. We called these people by various names like programmers, coders, techies, and they usually worked in a world oblivious of the everyday pri...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
Some journey to cloud on a mission, others, a deadline. Change management is useful when migrating to public, private or hybrid cloud environments in either case. For most, stakeholder engagement peaks during the planning and post migration phases of a project. Legacy engagements are fairly direct: projects follow a linear progression of activities (the “waterfall” approach) – change managers and application coders work from the same functional and technical requirements. Enablement and develo...
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
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...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone in...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
For DevOps teams, the concepts behind service-oriented architecture (SOA) are nothing new. A style of software design initially made popular in the 1990s, SOA was an alternative to a monolithic application; essentially a collection of coarse-grained components that communicated with each other. Communication would involve either simple data passing or two or more services coordinating some activity. SOA served as a valid approach to solving many architectural problems faced by businesses, as app...
Many IT organizations have come to learn that leveraging cloud infrastructure is not just unavoidable, it’s one of the most effective paths for IT organizations to become more responsive to business needs. Yet with the cloud comes new challenges, including minimizing downtime, decreasing the cost of operations, and preventing employee burnout to name a few. As companies migrate their processes and procedures to their new reality of a cloud-based infrastructure, an incident management solution...