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Business-Driven Architect

Brenda Michelson

Cloud Watching: Scale does not guarantee Performance

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A great feature of cloud computing is elasticity.  If your application needs more horsepower, a compute cloud can dynamically assign more resources.  When the usage spike ends, the resources can be removed.  However, the ability to scale doesn’t guarantee your application will perform satisfactorily for the additional load.  This could be due to a variety of issues, some might be cloud related, such as the additional overhead of running in a virtual machine, but more likely, the application wasn’t built (architected, designed) for scale.  A database bound application won’t be magically fixed by adding more computing power. 

Of course, the challenge is that you typically don’t know if your application will perform at scale until it doesn’t.  Testing for peak loads, especially extreme loads, is difficult and expensive.    Well, today the folks at SOASTA announced a Performance Certification program to make performance testing, on the cloud and on-premise, more accessible.

How it works, from SOASTA’s Tom Lounibos:

“SOASTA Performance Certification is designed as a turnkey process, minimizing disruption by eliminating any unnecessary impact on the existing environment. SOASTA and its partners collaborate with companies to define common use cases and then simulate those scenarios in the most accurate way possible—by using the web to test the web.

There are a number of purpose built tools to analyze the performance characteristics of individual components of a web-based application, such as web page design, application design, database implementation, or network architecture. SOASTA’s Performance Certification leverages its Global CloudTest™ Platform to provide an affordable end-to-end analysis of a site's performance as well as measure responsiveness at normal and peak usage levels. Certified sites receive a comprehensive report on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), with a focus on response times achieved at various user loads.

Certification confirms that the site has been tested at specific traffic volume levels (1K, 10K, 25K, 50K, or 100K users) and has been measured against KPIs such as response time and error rates. In addition, as part of the certification process SOASTA and its partners provide valuable analysis of site latency to help companies improve the overall performance and responsiveness of their website.?

Who is involved:

“Supporting SOASTA in this performance certification initiative are industry leaders in cloud computing including platform vendors, testing companies and independent cloud service providers. They include 3Tera, Appistry, Chegg.com, Enomaly, GoGrid, Hexaware Technologies, Intuit, JackBe, PowerTest, Rackspace, RightScale, rPath and Zephyr.?

I think performance certification is an important piece to the cloud assurance puzzle.  Plus, the former retailer in me sees this as a good addition to peak-planning activities.


[Disclosure: SOASTA has been a client of my firm, Elemental Links].

Brenda Michelson, Principal of Elemental Links, shares her view on architectural strategies, technology trends, business, and relevance.

Brenda Michelson

Brenda Michelson is the principal of Elemental Links an advisory & consulting practice focused on business-technology capabilities that increase business visibility and responsiveness. Follow Brenda on Twitter.


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