Click here to close now.


Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Trevor Parsons, Pat Romanski, Samuel Scott, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Java IoT, Microservices Expo

Java IoT: Article

Patterns for Building High Performance Applications

Finding the right approach

Performance is one word that is used to describe multiple scenarios when talking about application performance. When someone says I need a High Performance Application, it might mean any/all of the following:

  • Low web latency application ( meaning low page loading times)
  • Application that can serve ever increasing number of users (scalability)
  • Application that does not go down (either highly available or continuously available)

For each of the above, as an architect you need to dig deeper to find out what the user is asking for. With the advent of cloud, every CIO is looking to build applications that meet all of the above scenarios. With the advent of elastic compute, one tends to think that by throwing hardware to the application, we may be able to achieve all of the above objectives.

The patterns employed to achieve the above scenarios at times are different and it is important to find the right approach to the solution that meets the above objectives. We will examine some of the common patterns that can help us to achieve the objectives

Latency Contributors

  • Application Tier ing – One of the biggest contributors to the latency is the application tier ing. The hops from WebServer -> Application Server -> Database and back, data serialization/deserialization are some of the biggest contributor to the overall latency. Having Web and Application tier within the same box or even within same JVM can help reduce the network latency factor. One can have logical separation in the application code between Web Tier and Application Tier but need not have physical separation. Using Spring Container that has Web/App tier can help achieve the same. If the application is making use of SOA and making multiple web services or JMS message calls, network latency and serialization of data once again adds to the latency. Solutions like IBM Datapower XML Accelerators can be used to reduce the XML overheads. Similarly, the application can use Solace Message Router’s to speed up the messaging.

  • Bring Data closer to Application – Data needs to be close to the application so that making all those Database connection calls and getting data from DB can be reduced. Application can cache data to reduce the calls to DB. One can also use cache servers like memcached / ehCache to cache data at the Web/application Tier. Web Tier can cache data like static HTML fragments/images/javascript/CSS files. Application Tier can cache non-transactional data (like lookup maps). OR Mapping tools like Hibernate also support data caching. If it is an Internet Web Application, one can also make use of CDN (content delivery networks)/ Edge Networks (like Akamai) to speed up the delivery of static content.

  • Disk I/O – Another weak link in the application performance chain is Disk I/O. One way to overcome the limitations with regards to the Disk I/O is too keep data in memory. In Memory databases (like Volt DB or Solid DB or Oracle TimesTen), XTP solutions (like Oracle coherence, IBM eXtreme Scale, GigaSpaces eXtreme Application Platform) can used to speed up the application performance.

  • Parallelization of Tasks - The request for the service can be broken down into smaller tasks that can be executed in parallel and their results can be combined together to weave back the complete request. Techniques like - Partition the system by functionality that independently compute and process the request, Map Reduce available via OSS software like Hadoop, CouchDB etc allows the job to broken down to smaller chucks and results are combined together for the final response, Programming languages (Scala,  ERLang, Ada etc) support language constructs for concurrency,  Concurrency libraries like Akka ( based on Actor model) for Java, newer API available from Java 1.5 (ExecutorService)

  • Hardware/Network Configuration
    • Optimized Hardware – The hardware on which application is hosted can also be tuned to reduce latency. Optimization s like 10G/20G network, fiber channels, low latency switches, SSD (Solid State Drives), not using virtualization can make sure the application latency is reduced.
    • Transport Mechanism – At times, the transport mechanism can also add to the application latency. E.g. secure communication (like https) can add to the latency with the additional overhead of deciphering the data at the receiving end. One way is to offload the SSL at the Load Balancer/Firewall.

In the end, you need to measure anything and everything to address the bottlenecks. Once the obvious bottlenecks have been addressed, one can start looking at things like – cache thrashing, poor algorithms, data bloating, wrong dimensioning etc to squeeze out that ounce of performance. All the techniques mentioned may not be applicable in all scenarios’, the architect needs to take a call based on the latency requirements.

Application Scalability – Scalability means ability of an application to handle growing amount of data and concurrency in an efficient manner without impacting performance. Important thing to notice is scalability should not be at the cost of application performance. Some of the techniques that can help scale the application

  • Stateless Application/Service – The application should store its state in some centralized repository, but the application itself should be stateless. It means no storing of data or state on local file systems. Stateless application allows one to add any number of application instances to accommodate the increasing growth. But soon, the centralized repository starts becoming the bottleneck. With ever increasing data, repositories like (RDBMS) may start buckling down. One approach to this issue is to minimize mutable state in the database. To handle such scenarios, techniques like data sharding need to be applied. Another approach to managing write contention in the database is to look at the possibility of using NoSQL data stores for some or all of the application data.

  • Load Balancing – As the traffic starts going up, the application can handle the additional load by adding additional server instances to service the requests. The load balancer will make sure none of the servers are working beyond their stated load and new instance should be automatically added as and when the load goes up (auto scaling). One can also add load balance to database with techniques like Master-Master topology or Master-Slave(with partitioning read and write data) to handle the additional load. But if the data is going in Petabytes ranges, data sharding with data replication techniques need to be used. The in-memory data grid architecture can also be utilized to scale the data.

  • Fault Tolerance / Dynamic Discoverable Elements – When dealing with application that is running in large clusters, it is very important to avoid manual interventions. E.g. when the application load reaches a defined load, the application monitoring should be able to add a new instance and load balancer should be able to recognize the same to utilize it. Similarly, when data gets shard, the applications should be able to recognize and look up the new IP to connect. Similarly, if the application is not able to connect to particular resource, the application should be intelligent enough to recognize the fault and try accessing the alternate resource availability. The application will need to have a central meta data repository for all such fault tolerance scenarios that can be tapped by the application.

Application availability – Availability of an application is very much a function of scalability. Following factors have an impact on the application availability

  • Redundancy – The application needs to be scalable to be able to compensate for the loss of any instance (whether hardware or software). The redundancy needs to be build at all layers, Software, Hardware, Power and even at data center levels. Even if the data center goes, the user should be able to access the application. Many at times, the level of redundancy and down time is a factor of how money is being thrown at the solution. Remember some problems have no solutions within the context of today’s technology. E.g. real time data mirroring or data sync across data centers that are located geographically apart.

  • Fault Tolerance – The application needs to be fault tolerant (e.g. retry mechanism) to make sure it can take advantage of dynamically allocated resources to keep functioning. Having a centralized meta data repository that has information of newly allocated / alternate resources when scaling the application infrastructure.
  • Monitoring/Testing – Another overlooked factor of application availability is application monitoring. If application is not properly monitored, outages can go undetected leading to application unavailability. Ability to monitor the entire application stack and take corrective actions is very important. This capability is build over a period of time. Once the application has monitoring, auto-scaling features, testing to make sure they work is also important. Something like Chaos Monkey used by Netflix is very helpful.

  • Configuration Data – Any application that needs to be continuously available needs to be able to run using configuration. E.g. if the application introduces the new service interface, the application should have the ability to either make use of the new interface or keep using the old one. This factor becomes very important when rolling out new features/services and all of them cannot be rolled out at once.

All the techniques mentioned above can be employed at various levels to build high performance applications.

More Stories By Tech Spot

Founded in 2005, Tech Spot has grown into a leading source of information on Cloud Computing, Big Data, DevOps, Internet of Things and Microservices.

Bloggers - Munish K Gupta, Aravind Ajad Yarra

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on...
The pricing of tools or licenses for log aggregation can have a significant effect on organizational culture and the collaboration between Dev and Ops teams. Modern tools for log aggregation (of which Logentries is one example) can be hugely enabling for DevOps approaches to building and operating business-critical software systems. However, the pricing of an aggregated logging solution can affect the adoption of modern logging techniques, as well as organizational capabilities and cross-team ...
DevOps has traditionally played important roles in development and IT operations, but the practice is quickly becoming core to other business functions such as customer success, business intelligence, and marketing analytics. Modern marketers today are driven by data and rely on many different analytics tools. They need DevOps engineers in general and server log data specifically to do their jobs well. Here’s why: Server log files contain the only data that is completely full and accurate in th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advance...
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery ...
In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ernest Mueller, Product Manager at Idera, will explain the best practices and lessons learned for tracking and optimizing costs while delivering a cloud-hosted service. He will describe a DevOps approach where the applications and systems work together to track usage, model costs in a granular fashion, and make smart decisions at runtime to minimize costs. The trickier parts covered include triggering off the right metrics; balancing resilience and redundancy ...
Skeuomorphism usually means retaining existing design cues in something new that doesn’t actually need them. However, the concept of skeuomorphism can be thought of as relating more broadly to applying existing patterns to new technologies that, in fact, cry out for new approaches. In his session at DevOps Summit, Gordon Haff, Senior Cloud Strategy Marketing and Evangelism Manager at Red Hat, discussed why containers should be paired with new architectural practices such as microservices rathe...
Whether you like it or not, DevOps is on track for a remarkable alliance with security. The SEC didn’t approve the merger. And your boss hasn’t heard anything about it. Yet, this unruly triumvirate will soon dominate and deliver DevSecOps faster, cheaper, better, and on an unprecedented scale. In his session at DevOps Summit, Frank Bunger, VP of Customer Success at ScriptRock, will discuss how this cathartic moment will propel the DevOps movement from such stuff as dreams are made on to a prac...
It’s been proven time and time again that in tech, diversity drives greater innovation, better team productivity and greater profits and market share. So what can we do in our DevOps teams to embrace diversity and help transform the culture of development and operations into a true “DevOps” team? In her session at DevOps Summit, Stefana Muller, Director, Product Management – Continuous Delivery at CA Technologies, answered that question citing examples, showing how to create opportunities for ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DataClear Inc. will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The DataClear ‘BlackBox’ is the only solution that moves your PC, browsing and data out of the United States and away from prying (and spying) eyes. Its solution automatically builds you a clean, on-demand, virus free, new virtual cloud based PC outside of the United States, and wipes it clean...
Any Ops team trying to support a company in today’s cloud-connected world knows that a new way of thinking is required – one just as dramatic than the shift from Ops to DevOps. The diversity of modern operations requires teams to focus their impact on breadth vs. depth. In his session at DevOps Summit, Adam Serediuk, Director of Operations at xMatters, Inc., will discuss the strategic requirements of evolving from Ops to DevOps, and why modern Operations has begun leveraging the “NoOps” approa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
Early in my DevOps Journey, I was introduced to a book of great significance circulating within the Web Operations industry titled The Phoenix Project. (You can read our review of Gene’s book, if interested.) Written as a novel and loosely based on many of the same principles explored in The Goal, this book has been read and referenced by many who have adopted DevOps into their continuous improvement and software delivery processes around the world. As I began planning my travel schedule last...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Several years ago, I was a developer in a travel reservation aggregator. Our mission was to pull flight and hotel data from a bunch of cryptic reservation platforms, and provide it to other companies via an API library - for a fee. That was before companies like Expedia standardized such things. We started with simple methods like getFlightLeg() or addPassengerName(), each performing a small, well-understood function. But our customers wanted bigger, more encompassing services that would "do ...
Docker containerization is increasingly being used in production environments. How can these environments best be monitored? Monitoring Docker containers as if they are lightweight virtual machines (i.e., monitoring the host from within the container), with all the common metrics that can be captured from an operating system, is an insufficient approach. Docker containers can’t be treated as lightweight virtual machines; they must be treated as what they are: isolated processes running on hosts....
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Puppet Labs has announced the next major update to its flagship product: Puppet Enterprise 2015.2. This release includes new features providing DevOps teams with clarity, simplicity and additional management capabilities, including an all-new user interface, an interactive graph for visualizing infrastructure code, a new unified agent and broader infrastructure support.
What does “big enough” mean? It’s sometimes useful to argue by reductio ad absurdum. Hello, world doesn’t need to be broken down into smaller services. At the other extreme, building a monolithic enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is just asking for trouble: it’s too big, and it needs to be decomposed.
The Microservices architectural pattern promises increased DevOps agility and can help enable continuous delivery of software. This session is for developers who are transforming existing applications to cloud-native applications, or creating new microservices style applications. In his session at DevOps Summit, Jim Bugwadia, CEO of Nirmata, will introduce best practices, patterns, challenges, and solutions for the development and operations of microservices style applications. He will discuss ...