Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Harry Trott, Yeshim Deniz, Kevin Jackson

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Containers Expo Blog, Machine Learning , @CloudExpo, Apache

Microservices Expo: 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 been helping companies improve their application performance for 15+ years. He is a regular contributor within Web Performance and DevOps communities and a prolific speaker at user groups and conferences around the world. Reach him at @grabnerandi

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.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
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 organizations that have amassed large sums of software complexity, taking a microservices approach is the first step toward DevOps and continuous improvement / development. Integrating system-level analysis with microservices makes it easier to change and add functionality to applications at any time without the increase of risk. Before you start big transformation projects or a cloud migration, make sure these changes won’t take down your entire organization.
The margins of cloud products like virtual machines are still in the 50% range. In essence, price drops are going to be a regular feature for the foreseeable future. This begets the question - are hosted solutions becoming irrelevant today? Boston-based market research firm, 451 Research, has been publishing their ‘Cloud Price Index' for a few years now. The quarterly study looks into the pricing of various offerings in the cloud market to understand the shifting dynamics in the public, privat...
What's the role of an IT self-service portal when you get to continuous delivery and Infrastructure as Code? This general session showed how to create the continuous delivery culture and eight accelerators for leading the change. Don Demcsak is a DevOps and Cloud Native Modernization Principal for Dell EMC based out of New Jersey. He is a former, long time, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, specializing in building and architecting Application Delivery Pipelines for hybrid legacy, and cloud ...
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Me...
"Tintri focuses on the Ops side of the DevOps, which basically is pushing more and more of the accessibility of the infrastructure to the developers and trying to get behind the scenes," explained Dhiraj Sehgal of Tintri in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We do one of the best file systems in the world. We learned how to deal with Big Data many years ago and we implemented this knowledge into our software," explained Jakub Ratajczak, Business Development Manager at MooseFS, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busine...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann and Aruna Ravichandran have been named Co-Chairs of @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley which will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "DevOps is at the intersection of technology and business-optimizing tools, organizations and processes to bring measurable improvements in productivity and profitability," said Aruna Ravichandran, vice president, DevOps product and solutions marketing...
Managing mission-critical SAP systems and landscapes has never been easy. Add public cloud with its myriad of powerful cloud native services and this may not change any time soon. Public cloud offers exciting new possibilities for enterprise workloads. But to make use of these possibilities and capabilities, IT teams need to re-think everything they have done before. Otherwise, they will just end up using public cloud as a hosting platform for their workloads, aka known as “lift and shift.”
There's a lot to gain from cloud computing, but success requires a thoughtful and enterprise focused approach. Cloud computing decouples data and information from the infrastructure on which it lies. A process that is a LOT more involved than dragging some folders from your desktop to a shared drive. Cloud computing as a mission transformation activity, not a technological one. As an organization moves from local information hosting to the cloud, one of the most important challenges is addressi...
The reality of data ubiquity is here—data is buried in operational statistics, machine logs, stacks of overflowing tickets and customer details, among other things. How can any user get valuable information amid this rapid influx of data? Imagine a situation where your firm’s revenue takes a hit owing to an unexpected failure in some business process. It would be a nightmare for IT admins to sift through the interminable piles of data to deduce exactly why and where the problem occurred. To sav...
Hybrid IT is today’s reality, and while its implementation may seem daunting at times, more and more organizations are migrating to the cloud. In fact, according to SolarWinds 2017 IT Trends Index: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organization 95 percent of organizations have migrated crucial applications to the cloud in the past year. As such, it’s in every IT professional’s best interest to know what to expect.
Both SaaS vendors and SaaS buyers are going “all-in” to hyperscale IaaS platforms such as AWS, which is disrupting the SaaS value proposition. Why should the enterprise SaaS consumer pay for the SaaS service if their data is resident in adjacent AWS S3 buckets? If both SaaS sellers and buyers are using the same cloud tools, automation and pay-per-transaction model offered by IaaS platforms, then why not host the “shrink-wrapped” software in the customers’ cloud? Further, serverless computing, cl...
In the decade following his article, cloud computing further cemented Carr’s perspective. Compute, storage, and network resources have become simple utilities, available at the proverbial turn of the faucet. The value they provide is immense, but the cloud playing field is amazingly level. Carr’s quote above presaged the cloud to a T. Today, however, we’re in the digital era. Mark Andreesen’s ‘software is eating the world’ prognostication is coming to pass, as enterprises realize they must be...
A common misconception about the cloud is that one size fits all. Companies expecting to run all of their operations using one cloud solution or service must realize that doing so is akin to forcing the totality of their business functionality into a straightjacket. Unlocking the full potential of the cloud means embracing the multi-cloud future where businesses use their own cloud, and/or clouds from different vendors, to support separate functions or product groups. There is no single cloud so...
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Doug Vanderweide, an instructor at Linux Academy, discussed why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers wit...
Companies have always been concerned that traditional enterprise software is slow and complex to install, often disrupting critical and time-sensitive operations during roll-out. With the growing need to integrate new digital technologies into the enterprise to transform business processes, this concern has become even more pressing. A 2016 Panorama Consulting Solutions study revealed that enterprise resource planning (ERP) projects took an average of 21 months to install, with 57 percent of th...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...