Welcome!

SOA & WOA Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Vincent Brasseur, Ignacio M. Llorente, Natalie Lerner

Related Topics: SOA & WOA, Java, Virtualization, AJAX & REA, Cloud Expo, Apache

SOA & WOA: Article

How to Triple Throughput and Improve Application Performance …

…through end-to-end testing

Thanks to the great guys who help our customers with their application performance problems we can share some of their stories in this article. We hope you - responsible for application performance in your own organization - can leverage these findings in order to prevent these common problem patterns we see out there in the real world.

I want to highlight some typical problems in web applications that can easily be identified through load testing and can lead to significant improvements in throughput and performance. In this case a 94% faster transaction performance was achieved and throughput could be tripled. It was all possible by fixing deployment problems on the Web Server. Here is story on how they did it!

Challenge: Is End User Response Time Unacceptable or Not? If So - Where Is the Problem?
Load tests are great. They tell you whether your application can handle the simulated load by staying within the acceptable response times for the tested transactions. When just looking at the average response time as measured on the web servers it will be hard to tell:

  • Do we have a performance problem at all?
  • How can we improve the performance?

Figure 1 shows a typical graph you get from a load testing tool or by analyzing your web server logs. The test that was executed simulated constant load after a short warm-up period. The results show that Average Transaction Response Time increased slightly over time with one outlier up to 3 seconds. The throughput of the system (Transaction Count) on the other side went slightly down. This can be expected when response time goes up. The question is - is this a problem? Is an average of 1.5s bad User Experience?

Figure 1: Declining Transaction Performance on both web servers also leads to less throughput

Do Not Trust Average Values: Focused analysis is required to identify problems!
One lesson that all of our customers have learned is that you do not want to analyze your performance by looking at the average execution time of all of your simulated transactions. This would give a wrong picture as certain transactions will always be fast because they are optimized where others are slow because there really is a problem. If you look at all of them at once - and then just at averages - it is very likely that you never find that you actually have a problem as it will hide behind the statistically calculated values.

Therefore you need to focus your analysis on individual transaction types that you test. Figure 2 shows a performance breakdown of the individual tested transactions. Figure 1 shows that certain transactions have a significant increase in response time where others only have a slight increase. On average the application is not performing too badly - but it is these individual transactions under load that are the real problem for the end users. Even worse if these are the transactions that are critical to your application:

Figure 2: Different transaction types perform differently. Looking at overall averages would not reveal these problems

The breakdown by tested transaction shows us that there are at least two transactions that showed spikes of up to 21s to execute. One of them is the Login transaction that is very critical to the application. Now it's time to focus our next analysis step on these transactions in order to get rid of the "statistical noise" of the other transactions that actually ran fine.

Look at the End-to-End View: It shows you where your problems are
The next step in the problem analysis is to look beyond the measured response time on the web server. Analyzing the full end-to-end view reveals which component in the infrastructure contributes the most to the overall performance. This allows you to attack the problem where it happens without trying to improve components that may actually work really well. Figure 3 shows the Transaction Flow Visualization of each individual request that was generated during the load test for the one transaction type we are focused on. Instead of just showing response as perceived by the end user (or virtual simulated user) it shows which component along the transaction execution contributed how much to the response time. It is easy to spot that this problem is not related to the 4 Java Application Server but can be found on the two load balanced Web Servers where 87% of the time is spent:

Figure 3: Analyzing the flow of the tested transaction reveals the component we need to focus our performance analysis on

Typical Problem Patterns on the Web Server
I recently wrote about the typical deployment problems that happen when moving an application from test to production: In the case of this blog it was a combination of misconfigured Web Server Settings (Max Connections and Misconfigured Modules). Other problems we typically see are oversized web pages leading to too much load on the web server to deliver that content.

Improvement: 3x Throughput and 94% Performance Gain
After fixing the problem the customer can now run about up to 30,000 transactions per Web Server instead of 10,000. The average response time also went down from ~1.19s to ~68ms. Not only is this great for the end-user experience but it also means that the existing hardware can be much better leveraged and supports many more users than originally anticipated. Figure 4 shows the final charts and transaction flow visualization of a test that was re-ran after all problems identified could be addressed:

Figure 4: Much Higher and Constant Throughput and Performance after fixing the identified performance problems

There Is More: Browser, CNDs, Network, Web Servers, Application Servers, Databases...
Obviously problems cannot always just be found in one component. Typically when you address one problem the problem shifts to the next, e.g., too many database calls executed per transaction, too heavy JavaScript libraries in the browser or cross-application impact in your infrastructure. Here are some links with additional reading material with more stories from the real world:

If you have your own stories that you want to share feel free to contact us.

More Stories By Andreas Grabner

Andreas Grabner has more than a decade of experience as an architect and developer in the Java and .NET space. In his current role, Andi works as a Technology Strategist for Compuware and leads the Compuware APM Center of Excellence team. In his role he influences the Compuware APM product strategy and works closely with customers in implementing performance management solutions across the entire application lifecycle. He is a frequent speaker at technology conferences on performance and architecture-related topics, and regularly authors articles offering business and technology advice for Compuware’s About:Performance blog.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...