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The Performance Principle

Russell Rothstein

Application Performance Management: Bringing SPEED to Test/QA

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A recent visit to a customer site demonstrated how business transaction-centric application performance management (APM) can be a valuable complement to the load testing process. For the past several years, this large manufacturer, has been using APM and business transaction management (BTM) to reduce rollout risk as new patches and functionality are released into production.

On this occasion, the QA team had planned four different load tests designed to ensure that changes made to the backend system had improved, rather than degraded performance as expected. An hour and a half into the first load test, they detected a spike in the execution time of two transaction types - Order Item and Add Order. They used business transaction driven APM to show that during the spike, there were several instances of the problematic transaction running concurrently. This was reported to the team, along with instance data showing the exact time the spikes were detected.

The screen shot clearly shows the sudden spike in the elapsed time of the Order Item and Add Order transactions:

The transaction had a typical end-to-end execution time of approximately 5 seconds. By drilling down into the transaction instances, we saw that during peak load, there were several instances running at once, and they were each running for over 3 minutes:

Using a best in class APM solution from OpTier was critical to enable a quick analysis of the source of the problem. In just two clicks it demonstrated that the problem was a deadlock issue within the EJB layer. It also showed what was not problematic so that the team would not waste time on the parts of the application that were working well. It showed that the WebSphere Commerce Suite side of the application performed within acceptable ranges, including the DB2 calls. It also showed that the load balancing between the 2 WebSphere servers appeared to be functioning properly. The customer used (and continues to use) this product not only to measure transaction performance, but also to gain insight into the part of the transaction that was causing the slowdown, and the root cause of the problem.

By using business transaction centric APM during the load testing process, this company was able to drill down from a broad view of the overall system performance to a specific analysis of the individual transaction instances that were performing poorly.  As a result, the application developers were able to understand the circumstances and root causes of the performance degradation and to resolve them rapidly.

Russell Rothstein blogs about cloud computing, performance management, business service management and related topics, examining how new technologies and business models impact the dynamic IT service management market.

Russell Rothstein

Russell Rothstein has spent his 20+ year career in the enterprise technology industry at the crossroads between technology and business. He has spoken at industry events including Interop, CloudConnect, CMG, Red Herring, and TeleManagement World. Russell is currently Founder and CEO of IT Central Station, a B2B social networking site that provides user reviews and ratings of enterprise software, hardware and services. Previously, Russell was Vice President of Product Marketing at OpTier, a vendor of application performance management (APM) solutions. Before joining OpTier, Russell was AVP Product Marketing at OPNET Technologies (Nasdaq: OPNT) where he helped lead the company’s focus into APM. He was co-founder and CEO of Zettapoint, a venture-backed enterprise software startup that was acquired by EMC, and ran marketing for Open Sesame, a Web 1.0 startup that was acquired by Bowne/RR Donnelley (NYSE:BNE). Russell began his career at Oracle, deploying Oracle Applications for Fortune 1000 companies. Russell received a BA in Computer Science from Harvard University, an MS in Technology and Policy from MIT and an MS in Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Follow Russell on twitter at @RussRothsteinIT .

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