Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Stackify Blog, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Java IoT, Microservices Expo, ColdFusion, Microsoft Cloud, Machine Learning

Java IoT: Article

Load Testing in Clustered Environments

Clustered Environments: Load Testing for Architectural Validation (P.S. Don’t Extrapolate!)

Load and performance testing web applications will allow you to determine whether or not your deployment will require a clustered environment. When the test results show that the current throughput is restricted by the capacity of the server but target workloads are not yet met, this is a situation where you can achieve higher scalability by implementing clusters to your environment. Clustering achieves higher scalability by introducing more servers or nodes to expand the capacity of the environment. Obviously, the benefits of adding hardware include higher capacity, reliability, availability, and scalability. But also consider that clustering also adds complexity to your deployment by requiring added maintenance and an increased need for deployment/upgrade automation. To ensure quality of the environment you must always validate your clustered environment and prove out the increased scalability. Use a methodical performance testing approach. Don't try to extrapolate! It's not as easy as "3 nodes in a cluster will support 3x the workload."

Why Cluster?
An efficiently tuned deployment will, in turn, display an efficient use of server resources (memory, CPU, i/o, etc). Using a cluster increases the number of servers and distributes the workload amongst several servers. This even distribution of the workload can dramatically increase scalability. Not only can this improve the end user experience by reaching higher workloads with predictable response times but it can increase the reliability and stability of the deployment. The cluster acts as a single server so the loss or shutdown of any of the nodes in the cluster will not result in loss of sessions or application data. In the end, the user experience is less frequently interrupted and isn't affected by a single maxed out server or a loss of a server.

Tuning Tips
When performance or load testing your application uncovers a clear need to introduce clusters or farms to support the target workload, you will want to take into account the following considerations: First you should configure the cluster efficiently for internal maintenance such as data synchronization and heartbeat communications. User sessions which live in memory are more quickly failed over to another node in the cluster instead of persisting them to the database. However, writing the sessions to disk is more permanent which may have its own advantages. Make sure you have tested the performance prices for data synchronization and heartbeat communications. The goal is to configure the cluster to increase scalability with as little overhead as possible.

Load Balancers
Load balancers are generally placed out in front of the clusters. These load balancers can be a software solution or a hardware solution. Their job is to distribute the load evenly to the nodes in the cluster. Just as important, LB's reroute traffic when one node of the cluster goes down. This allows for the "transparency" of several servers acting as one. There are several more mature algorithms for distribution than traditional "round robins." Smarter LB's takes into account the CPU and resource usage and overall load of each server and their job is to direct the request to the least loaded server. The number of active users doesn't always equate to more resources being actively used, rather it depends on the types of transactions being executed - lightweight vs. expensive transactions. Smart LB's will detect workload and direct incoming traffic based on resource usage. Often LB's will use sticky sessions based on the client's cookie and/or IP address to route subsequent requests to the same node of cluster where the user session lives. Whenload testing these types of environments, it's a requirement to have a load tool which supports IP Spoofing. This is used to generate the load of many virtual users using multiple IP addresses all from a single machine. Otherwise, the total load would go to a single cluster node.

Types of Clustering
Clustering can be achieved using a few common techniques. Vertical clustering adds capacity to the deployment by installing multiple nodes of a cluster on a single machine. With this approach you must take into consideration the physical limitations of that machine (CPU, memory, i/o) and be careful not over utilize resources; otherwise adding more nodes becomes pointless due to saturation. Horizontal clusters refer to deploying more physical machines. With this approach, each physical machine can run one or more of the nodes of the cluster. Cloud bursting is a way of having a node both within the LAN and a node in the Cloud to be turned "on" during high volume usage or be strategically placed in different geographical locations. The appropriate technique really depends on the specifics of your environment. If you need more capacity and you have beefy infrastructure servers but do not have enough web servers or app servers to fully utilize the underlying hardware, choose the vertical clustering approach by adding more nodes to the same machine. On the other hand, if more physical resources are needed to handle the workload, then build out a horizontal cluster by adding more hardware and deploying more nodes.

How to Load Test a Cluster?
It's important to take a methodical approach to load testing a clustered environment. Load patterns such as ramping tests allow you to identify the current capacity as well as increased scalability as you add more nodes to the cluster. Remember that doubling the number of nodes in a cluster does not equate to doubling its capacity. Many components impact its performance gain such as the communications between the nodes used to just make the cluster work properly. The resource cost increases dramatically with the number of nodes. Capacity is relative and is dependent on myriad other components within the infrastructure. For example, adding another node to the cluster may give the application layer 2x the throughput (although this is not really possible due to "housekeeping" from internal administration overhead to maintain that cluster), but let's say the single webserver out front is already using all its worker threads, then requests will be queued while waiting for a thread to become available and overall throughput will not increase. Only through the analysis of load test results will you completely understand the increased scalability effects of a cluster. Consider another scenario: You have identified a need for building out a cluster of application servers, however you deploy too many nodes resulting in a backlog of requests on the shared database. Performance and load testing will uncover this vulnerability and many other potential scenarios that could otherwise go undetected. Having a comparison analysis feature built right into the load tool will allow you to run tests back to back, after turning on/off nodes in the cluster, and quickly visualize the differences. Also, having the tool with a built-in cloud load generation feature will save time and money setting up and maintaining the performance architecture environment, especially for high load tests.

The Right Approach?
Adding clustering to a deployment allows a web application to achieve higher workloads and gives the advantage of higher availability. However, you must conduct performance tests in order to build out an efficient cluster which meets your goals. Don't forget to weigh the benefits vs. added maintenance complexity/cost. Clusters require a high level of expertise to implement and maintain so they aren't the best solution in every situation. Make sure all moving parts are documented and insist on a complete architectural diagram for future systems administrators (diagrams to include hierarchical transaction pathways as well as location of each node in the cluster including the admin consoles). In the end it's all about delivering the best possible end user experience and in many cases clustering is an excellent solution for increasing scalability of your web deployments.

More Stories By Rebecca Clinard

Rebecca Clinard is a Senior Performance Engineer at Neotys, a provider of load testing software for Web applications. Previously, she worked as a web application performance engineer for Bowstreet, Fidelity Investments, Bottomline Technologies and Timberland companies, industries spanning retail, financial services, insurance and manufacturing. Her expertise lies in creating realistic load tests and performance tuning multi-tier deployments. She has been orchestrating and conducting performance tests since 2001. Clinard graduated from University of New Hampshire with a BS and also holds a UNIX Certificate from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Most DevOps journeys involve several phases of maturity. Research shows that the inflection point where organizations begin to see maximum value is when they implement tight integration deploying their code to their infrastructure. Success at this level is the last barrier to at-will deployment. Storage, for instance, is more capable than where we read and write data. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Atwell, a Developer Advocate for NetApp, will discuss the role and value...
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.
Regardless of what business you’re in, it’s increasingly a software-driven business. Consumers’ rising expectations for connected digital and physical experiences are driving what some are calling the "Customer Experience Challenge.” In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Marco Morales, Director of Global Solutions at CollabNet, will discuss how organizations are increasingly adopting a discipline of Value Stream Mapping to ensure that the software they are producing is poised to o...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real r...
Cloud promises the agility required by today’s digital businesses. As organizations adopt cloud based infrastructures and services, their IT resources become increasingly dynamic and hybrid in nature. Managing these require modern IT operations and tools. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Raj Sundaram, Senior Principal Product Manager at CA Technologies, will discuss how to modernize your IT operations in order to proactively manage your hybrid cloud and IT environments. He will be sharing bes...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus intern...
This talk centers around how to automate best practices in a multi-/hybrid-cloud world based on our work with customers like GE, Discovery Communications and Fannie Mae. Today’s enterprises are reaping the benefits of cloud computing, but also discovering many risks and challenges. In the age of DevOps and the decentralization of IT, it’s easy to over-provision resources, forget that instances are running, or unintentionally expose vulnerabilities.
It has never been a better time to be a developer! Thanks to cloud computing, deploying our applications is much easier than it used to be. How we deploy our apps continues to evolve thanks to cloud hosting, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and now Function-as-a-Service. FaaS is the concept of serverless computing via serverless architectures. Software developers can leverage this to deploy an individual "function", action, or piece of business logic. They are expected to start within milliseconds...
There are two main reasons for infrastructure automation. First, system administrators, IT professionals and DevOps engineers need to automate as many routine tasks as possible. That’s why we build tools at Stackify to help developers automate processes like application performance management, error monitoring, and log management; automation means you have more time for mission-critical tasks. Second, automation makes the management of complex, diverse environments possible and allows rapid scal...
One of the biggest challenges with adopting a DevOps mentality is: new applications are easily adapted to cloud-native, microservice-based, or containerized architectures - they can be built for them - but old applications need complex refactoring. On the other hand, these new technologies can require relearning or adapting new, oftentimes more complex, methodologies and tools to be ready for production. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, Solutions Marketi...
We all know that end users experience the internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices - not doing so will be a path to eventual ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry’s single source for the cloud. Fusion’s advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, I provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading the...
The purpose of this article is draw attention to key SaaS services that are commonly overlooked during contact signing that are essential to ensuring they meet the expectations and requirements of the organization and provide guidance and recommendations for process and controls necessary for achieving quality SaaS contractual agreements.
SYS-CON Events announced today that OpsGenie will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2012, OpsGenie is an alerting and on-call management solution for dev and ops teams. OpsGenie provides the tools needed to design actionable alerts, manage on-call schedules and escalations, and ensure that the right people are notified at the right time, using multiple notification methods.