Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Dmitriy Stepanov, Jim Kaskade, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, AJAX & REA

Cloud Expo: Article

Integrated Cloud-based Load Testing and Performance Management

New Integration from Keynote and dynaTrace

Load Testing has traditionally been done In-House with load-testing tools using machines in your test center to generate HTTP traffic against the application needing to be tested for high volume transactions. With agile development practices, shorter release cycles and higher number of users that will ultimately access a web application from more places around the world, in-house testing reached its limits. Maintaining a load-testing infrastructure that supports 10 or 100 thousands of users becomes costly. With rapidly changing applications, updating test scripts is also becoming a bigger challenge all the time, binding lots of test resources to just the task of maintaining test scripts. When running tests more frequently, analyzing test results becomes a task that consumes performance architects or engineers with analyzing graphs and log files in order to figure out what problems were just uncovered by the recent test.

Let’s summarize these problems/requirements:

  • It is important to run bigger loads than ever before as our apps are accessed by more users around the globe
  • Besides just running the load we want to know how end-user performance is perceived from different locations around the globe
  • It is costly to own and maintain a test environment large enough to support these loads
  • It is time consuming to constantly adapt test scripts to reflect the changes of every product iteration
  • It takes experienced performance engineers or architects too long to analyze the test results and identify the root cause of problems

Cloud-Based Load-Testing with integrated Application Performance Management
Cloud based Load Testing solves many of these problems by providing high-volume tests from around the globe at specific times at a manageable cost. But it comes with some requirements on the tested application, and services like this must meet certain requirements in order to solve the discussed problems:

  • The Application Under Test (AUT) must be accessible from the internet as the generated transactions are generated from machines around the globe and not within the local test environment. Companies usually use part of their production system at “off-hours” to host the version of the application to be tested. This allows running large scale tests without having to have a replicate of the production environment for testing
  • The load testing service must provide an easy way to create and update scripts to adapt to changes within a product’s iterations. Otherwise too much time and effort is put into setting up tests.
  • The service must integrate with performance management software that runs on the tested application. This allows correlating data shown in load testing reports (Response Times, Transaction Rates, Bandwidth Usage …) with data captured in the application infrastructure (Transaction Times, CPU, Memory, Exceptions, …)

Proof of Concept: Load Testing with Keynote integrated with Application Performance Management from dynaTrace
Together with Keynote’s Load Testing Consultants we set up the following environment showcasing the benefits of an integrated solution of Cloud-Based Load Testing and Application Performance Management.

Step 1: Deploying the application
We deployed a 4 tier (2 Java and 2 .NET Runtimes) eCommerce Travel Portal on a hosted virtual infrastructure so that it is accessible by the Cloud-based Load Testing Service. We also installed and configured dynaTrace to manage this multi-tier heterogeneous application in order to identify problems once we put load on the system.

Application Dependency between the 4 tier heterogenous application

Application Dependency between the 4 tier heterogeneous application

Step 2: Test Scripts and Keynote/dynaTrace Integration
Keynote modeled several use-case scenarios based on the testing requirements we had on our application. We ended up with use cases such as executing a specific search, accessing the last-minute offers page or purchasing a trip. dynaTrace provides an integration interface for Load-Testing and Monitoring Services that allows us to link every executed synthetic request with the transaction that dynaTrace traces on the application server when these requests are handled by the application.

Step 3: Running a test
We decided to run a test starting with increasing load to figure out where the breaking point of our application is. We started with a load of 3000 sessions per hour running for 15 minutes and increasing this load every 15 minutes to 6k, 9, and 12k sessions/hour. It turned out our application broke much faster than we anticipated :-)

Step 4: Analyzing the Load Testing Report
When I log into the Keynote Load Testing Portal I start by looking at the load testing report that shows me the executed sessions, response times, page views and errors:

Keynote Load Testing Report showing an application problem when increasing the load to 6k sessions per hour

Keynote Load Testing Report showing an application problem when increasing the load to 6k sessions per hour

It is easy to see that – once we went from Phase 1 (3k sessions) to Phase 2 (6k sessions) – our application’s response times go through the roof causing most of the simulated users to experience timeouts. A click on the Page Error graph shows that these errors are mainly timeouts or connection errors. The question now is: Is this problem an application problem or is it related to the infrastructure? Without having insight to the application these results could be interpreted in multiple different ways, e.g: our hosting company doesn’t provide enough bandwidth. That is the point when Application Performance Management helps answering these uncertainties.

Step 5: Looking at application performance data
I’ve created two dashboards that I use to analyze application performance while or after running a load test. The first one is an Infrastructure Dashboard where I display CPU and Memory Utilization of all 4 Application Runtimes that are involved:

The Dashboard shows us high memory und GC activity on our GoSpaceBackend which also leads to very high CPU Utilization

The Dashboard shows us high memory und GC activity on our GoSpaceBackend which also leads to very high CPU Utilization

The red measure in the JVM Memory Usage graph indicates GC Collection time. The red in the CPU Usage indicates the max CPU Usage of that JVM. The conclusion is therefore easy. High memory usage leads to high GC activity which maxes out our CPU.

The next Dashboard gives me insight into the application itself – with all the involved application layers and the individual transactions that dynaTrace analyzed coming from the Keynote Load Test:

Transaction Response Time on the Application Server and Breakdown into Application Layers proofs that the slow response times are application related

Transaction Response Time on the Application Server and Breakdown into Application Layers proves that the slow response times are application-related

On the left of the Dashboard I placed a transaction overview of the individual use cases Keynote executed during the load test. It is easy to spot that once the load got ramped up to 6k sessions we saw a dramatic increase in response time on our application server. That means that our first question is answered: it is not an infrastructure problem with our web hosting but an application-specific problem. With the knowledge we already have by looking at the memory and CPU measures we can already guess that this is the main contributor. The performance breakdown on the bottom right also highlights which application layers were contributing the most to the application transaction response time. A double click on that graph gives us a close-up on this data:

Our Persistence Layer, EJBs and JMS are the main contributors of the application performance

Our Persistence Layer, EJBs and JMS are the main contributors of the application performance

Step 6: Drilling deeper into the problem
dynaTrace captured every single request that was executed while running the load test. Its PurePath technology is the enabler of the dashboards we looked at earlier. The next step is to identify what is really going on in the application and where is the main impact of the increased load. The next dashboard I created gives me a better overview of the application architecture, showing me which methods are called most often and how well they execute. I am also interested in database activity as well as individual web requests that were slow:

Detailed Overview of where my application hotspots are including application layers, methods, web requests and database statements

Detailed Overview of where my application hot spots are including application layers, methods, web requests and database statements

The dashboard again shows us that the primary application layer impacted is our persistence layer. It is also very interesting that the slowest URL is a web service hosted by our back-end application server and that we have a very high number of database statements coming from only a few web requests. This information is really valuable for the application architects who need insight into application dynamics under heavy load.

Step 7: Show me the root cause of these slow-running transactions
Not only can we get an overview of which requests were slow and how many methods or database statements were executed. We can now look into individual transactions, and also compare transactions to see where the difference is between a slow-running and a fast-running transaction. dynaTrace allows me to drill down to those 718 transactions that executed the slow running web service and I can inspect each individually:

All transactions (PurePaths) available for analysis. Selecting the slowest shows me where this web service got called and where time was spent

All transactions (PurePaths) available for analysis. Selecting the slowest shows me where this web service got called and where time was spent

Looking at the duration, CPU duration and Suspension Duration (Garbage Collection) really highlights the problem that we have. Suspension Time is really high with those transactions impacting the overall execution time.

I can also pick one that ran very slow and one that ran fast, and let dynaTrace compare these two transactions for me and highlight the differences:

Comparison shows the structural and timing difference between two transactions making it easy to spot the actual differences

Comparison shows the structural and timing difference between two transactions making it easy to spot the actual differences

Not only do I see how Garbage Collection impacts execution time of individual methods and the overall transaction. It also shows me how different the same transaction executes in case of an error (such as thrown abort exception) – which brings me to one additional dashboard I like to look it. This one includes exceptions, logging messages and an overview on the Garbage Collection runs on individual methods:

Exceptions including full stack traces, log messages with the context of where the were logged and an overview of suspended methods

Exceptions including full stack traces, log messages with the context of where they were logged and an overview of suspended methods

Step 8: Hand off the data
Looking at this data was easy as I simply look at these dashboards after the load test is finished. The dashboards already helped identifying several hot spots, e.g: high memory consumption by the back-end web services causing high GC, too many SQL statements per request, many hidden exceptions that never made it to a proper log message, …

dynaTrace makes this captured data available to the engineering team in order to resolve these problems. They can either access the data by directly accessing the dynaTrace environment used to capture this information. Another way is to export individual PurePaths or maybe all of them into a dynaTrace Session file which can be exchanged via email, Instant Messenger or attached to a bug ticket.

Proved the Concept: Cloud Based Load Testing with APM is ready for Agile Development

The problems/requirements listed in the beginning of this blog are solved/met with the integrated solution from Keynote and dynaTrace:

  • Keynote runs large scale load tests by driving load from many different locations around the globe
  • The global-distributed load generation allows us to identify local content delivery problems (slow network connections, wrongly configured CDNs, …)
  • The costs are under control as you only pay for the load test but don’t pay for maintaining your own load-testing infrastructure that would sit idle most of the time
  • Keynote makes it easy to create scripts and offers services to do the scripting for you
  • dynaTrace automatically highlights the problems identified during the load test. High-level analysis through dashboards doesn’t require highly skilled performance architects. The fine-grained data captured, however, gives the performance engineers and software architects actionable data without digging through log files or manually correlating a multitude of different performance metrics
  • No change to your application is required to use this integration

Related reading:

  1. End-to-End Monitoring and Load Testing with Keynote and dynaTrace We’ve learned from recent studies that performance has a direct...
  2. VS2010 Load Testing for Distributed and Heterogeneous Applications powered by dynaTrace Visual Studio 2010 is almost here – Microsoft just released...
  3. Performance Analysis in Load Testing Collection diagnostics information in Load Testing is a challenging task....
  4. From Cloud Monitoring to Effective Cloud Management – Webinar with IntraLinks on July 15th 2010 I am hosting a Webinar with IntraLinks this Wednesday. The...
  5. Elevating Web- and Load-Testing with MicroFocus SilkPerformer Diagnostics powered by dynaTrace MicroFocus and dynaTrace recently announced “SilkPerformer Assurance” and with that...

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.

@CloudExpo Stories
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 ...
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 ...
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
There's Big Data, then there's really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, discussed how IoT, Big D...
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete...
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 Ar...
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
SYS-CON Media announced today that Skytap blog on "DevOps Journal" exceeded 84,000 story reads. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Noel Wurst is the managing content editor at Skytap. Skytap provides SaaS-based dev/test environments to the enterprise. Skytap solution removes the inefficiencies and constraints that comp...
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the ...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
Fundamentally, SDN is still mostly about network plumbing. While plumbing may be useful to tinker with, what you can do with your plumbing is far more intriguing. A rigid interpretation of SDN confines it to Layers 2 and 3, and that's reasonable. But SDN opens opportunities for novel constructions in Layers 4 to 7 that solve real operational problems in data centers. "Data center," in fact, might become anachronistic - data is everywhere, constantly on the move, seemingly always overflowing. Net...
"ElasticBox is an enterprise company that makes it very easy for developers and IT ops to collaborate to develop, build and deploy applications on any cloud - private, public or hybrid," stated Monish Sharma, VP of Customer Success at ElasticBox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"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.
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 happe...
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 THINKstrateg...
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and asse...