Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui

Related Topics: Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Machine Learning , Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Java IoT: Article

Let's Not Play Blame Games

Could it be that it is neither the ISP nor the application provider?

When the operations team gets an alert about potential performance problems that users might be experiencing, it is usually either the infrastructure or the actual application that is causing those problems. Things get interesting when neither the ISP nor the application provider is willing to admit fault. Can we tell who is to blame? Could it be that it is neither the ISP nor the application provider?

The IT department of our customer, SerciaFood, a food production company from Sercia (names changed for commercial reasons), received complaints about the performance of one of its applications. The IT department suspected network problems while the local ISP stood firmly behind its infrastructure and blamed the solution provider.

It Is Not Our Infrastructure
The SerciaFood IT team recently tested a new application before rolling it into production. During the tests the team complained about the performance of that application; the most likely cause of the poor performance was attributed to network problems.

SerciaNet, a big name not only in Sercia but also worldwide, was delivering the network infrastructure for SerciaFood. The ISP began to monitor the network with manual traces and other techniques; the company could not, however, provide any strong evidence that it was not their issue.

The pperations team at SerciaFood was appointed to look into the problem using a real user monitoring tool.

Its first observation was that network performance, i.e., the percentage of traffic that did not encounter network-related issues (Server Loss Rate, Client RTT and Errors), was varying between different regions where SerciaFood services were used.

Figure 1 shows a report where both network and application performance metrics for EMEA are good. EMEA is the most active region on the report since it is where the core business operations of SerciaFood are focused. Other distant regions reported performance problems; the second most active "third-party" region reported high Client RTT and Server Loss Rate. Client RTT is the time of the SYN packet (sent by a server) to travel from APM probe to client and back again. Server Loss Rate is the percentage of total packets sent from a server that were lost and needed to be retransmitted.

Figure 1: Overview of KPIs across all monitored regions

How Is the Network Performance in EMEA?
The Operations team decided to first confirm what was indicated in Figure 1: the key business region, EMEA, was not affected by network problems.

Figure 2 shows a report with all areas monitored within the EMEA region. According to this report the performance is consistently good with about 2.5 sec of operation time and no network-related problems (100% network performance) for all areas within EMEA region.

Figure 2: Performance across all areas appears consistent with operation time at around 2.5 sec for all operations. Network Performance is good across all areas.

After a drill-down to one of user sites (Switzerland), the report shows that the operation time is spent almost entirely on the server side and that the network performance is good too (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Operation time is spent almost entirely on the server. Network performance is good at this location.

Another drill down to the report with transactions executed at that site (see Figure 4) shows that although server time varies between transactions, the network time remains consistently below 400 ms. The differences in server time between transactions are a result of the different computational complexity between these transactions. For example, responding to Query is likely to be more demanding than responding to Get File.

Figure 4: Server time varies across transactions between 0.5-4 sec. network time is consistently below 400ms

The operations team decided to further investigate two transactions: one that should be heavy on network (Get File) and one that might be heavy on the server side (Query). The former was mostly responsible for merely delivering files to the client application while the latter required more computational power of the server to execute the query. The performance of the former is good with an almost even split between server and network time (see Figure 5), which does not indicate any network-related problems. The operation time for the latter is almost exclusively spent on the server, with negligible network impact (see Figure 6).

Figure 5: Performance is good for the Get File transaction, which by its nature would be more impacted by network time

Figure 6: Performance is poor for the Query transaction with time spent almost exclusively on the server

The operations team concluded, based on the analyzed traffic in the EMEA region, that at least in that region the performance was good and that it was not affected by network infrastructure delivered by SerciaNet.

Who Is Really Affected?
The question remained: why were some users reporting performance problems? From the overview report (see Figure 1) the operations team decided to drill down through third party, the region with the lowest network performance and highest server loss rate.

This region reported poor network performance below 50% and a significant contribution of network component in the operation time (see Figure 7).

Figure 7: Network performance is degraded at third-party locations

Figure 8 shows the report with a list of transactions for the affected user site. Although server and network time varies between transactions, the application performance for all transactions is low, down to 0% for Get File and Query transactions.

Figure 8: Server and network time varies between transactions likely due to the nature of the transactions

Further analysis of the Get File operation across different users shows significant contribution of the network time (see Figure 9). The network time for both operations is inconsistent; it took 4x more time to deliver results of the Query operation to the second user than to the first one (see Figure 10). This might indicate that users represented in this report connect to the SerciaFood applications through different ISPs.

Figure 9: Performance is inconsistent for the Get File transaction with network time being the main contributor

Figure 10: Performance is improved for the Query transaction but network time again showing inconsistency

Based on that analysis the operations team could determine that some users did in fact experience performance problems caused by network issues. Further investigation revealed that those users who were experiencing poor performance were not connecting to the SerciaFood application using the SerciaNet infrastructure but were instead working remotely through VPN using various ISPs.

Conclusion
When operating a service accessed by users from various locations it is important to remember that the end user experience may vary, sometimes significantly. In the case of SerciaFood its most active users were coming from the EMEA region that was implemented on the SerciaNet infrastructure. However, the second most active users were connecting to the SerciaFood services via VPN. Since these users relied on the general Internet connection, their experience was affected by poor network quality. Different users were connected from different ISPs; as a result the network performance in the third-party region was inconsistent.

Using Compuware dynaTrace Data Center Real User Monitoring (DCRUM) the operations team was able to show evidence, which SerciaNet could not gather otherwise, that the problems were neither caused by SerciaNet infrastructure nor by the application itself. They were, in fact, only experienced by remote users connecting via VPN, who were negatively impacted by ISPs network performance problems.

More Stories By Sebastian Kruk

Sebastian Kruk is a Technical Product Strategist, Center of Excellence, at Compuware APM Business Unit.

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.


Microservices Articles
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. H...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
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...
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.
"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.
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addresse...