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DevOps is speeding towards the IT world like a freight train and the hype around it is deafening. There is no reason to be afraid of this change as it is the natural reaction to the agile movement that revolutionized development just a few years ago. By definition, DevOps is the natural alignment of IT performance to business profitability. The relevance of this has yet to be quantified but it has been suggested that the route to the CEO's chair will come from the IT leaders that successfully make the transition to a DevOps model. If this still seems foreign to you, I recommend reading up on DevOps Blog from IT Revolution, the OpsCode Blog, and check out The Phoenix Project. Despite all the talk around simple monitoring tools, breaking through the walls between Dev and Ops still poses a real challenge. This is because of a misunderstanding around Operations real purp... (more)

A Step-by-Step Guide to dynaTrace AJAX Edition

  The dynaTrace AJAX Edition has been out there as an Alpha for a couple of weeks. It gave you the first impression what was to come. All the feedback we have received (like that from Steve Souders, and all that has come in via the contact form and the online forum) in that time made it possible to improve the tool from its early versions to its first "official" release version. In this article I'll discuss why dynaTrace Labs built the AJAX Edition, which problems it solves and how to use it in an example with Google maps. Why dynaTrace AJAX dition - and why for free? At dynaTrace, we see the paradigm shift of web applications with our clients as well as in the industry where the browsers and their runtimes (JavaScript, DOM) become application platforms. The rise of frameworks like jQuery, GWT, YUI, DoJo, ... make it easier to build Web 2.0 applications - but it has ... (more)

Ensuring Website Performance

It is a fact that end user response time is critical for business success. The faster web pages are perceived the longer users tend to stay on the page and therefore spend more money and drive business. In order to ensure that end user response times are acceptable at all times it is necessary to measure the time in the way the end user perceives performance. Measuring and monitoring your live system is important to identify problems early on before it affects too many end users. In order to make sure that web pages are fast from the start it is very important to constantly and continuously measure web page performance throughout the development phase and in testing. There are two questions that need to be answered What is the time the user actually perceives as web response time? How to measure it accurately and in an automated way? What Time to Measure? Technical ... (more)

Myths and Truths About Performance Measurement Overhead

In this third article of my Performance Almanac I discuss the role of overhead in performance management. As a performance management solution provider we’re frequently asked “How much overhead does your solution have?” This question is however a bit more complex to answer than just giving a single number. When discussing this topic I have also realized that there are some dogmas on people’s minds which are not necessarily true. I collected the most common myths and truths about performance measurement overhead and will discuss them here. Truth: Performance Measurement Produces Overhead As Werner Heisenberg already told us in his uncertainty principle, measuring a system always modifies the behavior of the system itself. The same is true for performance measurement. In order to collect our measurements we have to modify the system and execute additional code. This c... (more)

Web Performance Optimization Use Cases

Web Performance Optimization (WPO) constitutes of a set of activities targeted at improving the performance of web applications. First coined by Steve Souders WPO is developing into a growing industry. Every month new companies and projects offering web performance services emerge. WPO is much more than performance analysis; however, performance analysis is a central part in WPO activities as you must first have the data to decide what you are targeting and even more important to create a business case for web performance in your organization. Getting started with WPO is really easy and you do not need a big budget. There are numerous free tools on the market that will be of great help. I will focus on how to use dynaTrace Ajax Edition – a free tool for web performance analysis – but you can also use YSlow, PageSpeed or one of the other numerous services out there. ... (more)

Application Performance & Architectural Problems You Can Find in an Hour

When we get engaged with prospects that are interested in our performance management solution we walk them through a Proof of Concept. We let them install dynaTrace on their own prior to the actual POC. During the POC we ask them to exercise typical use cases on their application that show performance problems. We walk them through the different analysis options and add the findings to a final POC Presentation. In this blog I want to share some screenshots and findings of a typical Proof of Concept recently done in a heterogeneous .NET/Java Environment. Out-of-the-Box Result Presentation The screenshots are taken from the final POC Presentation that my colleague Francis pulled together after analyzing a one hour recorded dynaTrace Session with an Out-Of-The-Box dynaTrace Configuration. 1. Get a general performance overview of the application – where are my hotspots?... (more)

Compuware APM Helped Things Remembered Prepare for Online Holiday Rush

Compuware Corporation has announced that Things Remembered, the nation's largest and most prominent retailer of personalized gifts, had a successful online holiday season in part as the result of the optimal performance of its website. Things Remembered has more than 600 retail stores in 48 states, primarily located in shopping malls. Customers can also shop online through its website and through mail order catalogs. As consumers continually shift their spending to the web for its convenience, price savings and efficiencies, Things Remembered needed to ensure that its website had all the elements in place to meet growing consumer demand and expectations in order to best position the company for holiday sales success. Experience is a teacher and Things Remembered did not want to face a repeat of the myriad issues that previously brought down its website multiple tim... (more)

.NET and SharePoint Performance

SharePoint is a popular choice for intranet applications and therefore it is important that it performs well to ensure employee productivity. Waiting ten seconds just to load the initial dashboard doesn't necessarily support that. At a recent customer engagement we identified an interesting source of a potential performance problem that impacts all SharePoint and .NET-based installations that use the ServicePointManager to access web services. It turns out that ServicePointManager comes with a default setting that allows two concurrent connections. If you happen to have a SharePoint dashboard that queries data from more than two data sources, your end users will suffer from a very long page load time. In this blog I explain the steps that one of our customers took to identify and solve this particular problem. This issue has a broader impact beyond SharePoint; I sug... (more)

Evolving an APM Strategy for the 21st Century

I started in the web performance industry - well before Application Performance Management (APM) existed - during a time when external, single page measurement ruled the land. In an ecosystem where no other solutions existed, it was the top of the data chain to support the rapidly evolving world of web applications. This was an effective approach to APM, as most online applications were self-contained and, compared to the modern era, relatively simple in their design. A state-of-the-art web application, circa 2000 Soon, a new solution rose to the top of the ecosystem - the synthetic, multi-step business process, played back either in a browser or a browser simulator. By evolving beyond the single-page measurement, this more complex data collection methodology was able to provide a view into the most critical business processes, delivering repeatable baseline and be... (more)

Balancing the Load

A question that every online application provider will face eventually is: Does my application scale? Can I add an extra 100 users and still ensure the same user experience? If the application architecture is properly designed the easiest way is to put an additional server behind the load balancer to handle more traffic. In this article we recount an incident that happened to one of our clients when the cause of poor application performance was eventually attributed to problems with the load balancing of the application servers. HTTP Server (500) Errors Go Over the Roof Around 8 am the Operations team at Rendoosia Inc. (name changed for commercial reasons) got an alert from the APM tool that one of three SharePoint servers was generating many HTTP Server (500) errors. All three servers were behind a load balancer; hence why the team decided to analyze the overall p... (more)

Eating Our Own Dog Food – 2x Faster Hadoop MapReduce Jobs

For a while now I have been writing about how to analyze and optimize Hadoop jobs beyond just tweaking MapReduce options. The other day I took a look at some of our Outage Analyzer Hadoop jobs and put words into action. A simple analysis of the Outage Analyzer jobs with Compuware APM 5.5 identified three hotspots and two potential Hadoop problems in one of our biggest jobs. It took the responsible developer a couple of hours to fix it and the result is a 2x improvement overall and a 6x improvement on the Reduce part of the job. Let's see how we achieved that. About Outage Analyzer Outage Analyzer is a free service provided by Compuware that displays in real-time any availability problems with the most popular third-party content providers on the Internet. It's available at http://www.outageanalyzer.com. It uses real time analytical process technologies to do anomaly d... (more)