Welcome!

AJAX & REA Authors: Rajesh Lain, Sebastian Kruk, RealWire News Distribution, Harald Zeitlhofer

Related Topics: Java, AJAX & REA, Cloud Expo

Java: Article

The Super Bowl Effect on Website Performance

Synthetic monitoring of a website

Whether or not you are a fan of U.S. football - it was really hard to avoid this huge sports event on February 5. In addition to the actual game, it's the Super Bowl commercials that - besides being very expensive to air - usually drive a lot of load on the websites of the companies that run their ads. The question is whether the millions of dollars spent really drive consumers to these websites and make them do business with them.

As we won't get an answer from the top brands that advertised about the actual conversion rates we can look at the End User Experience and performance of their websites while these ads were aired. By analyzing the data that we can get through continuous synthetic monitoring combined with deep dive browser diagnostics, we'll be able to see whether their web application was actually able to handle the load and didn't leave too many of these users with a bad user experience.

Use Case: What Was the User Experience at One of the Top Brands on Super Bowl Day
In order to avoid any discussions on whether the numbers we present are good or bad and mean that this company did a good or terrible job, we present all this data without giving an actual name as the purpose of this exercise is to show how to perform this type of analysis.

Synthetic Monitoring of a Web Site
In order to monitor web site performance of a site we set up a Gomez Synthetic Monitor to be executed on a scheduled basis. The monitor not only monitored the performance of the initial home page but also walked through several main use-case scenarios on that page, e.g., searched for a product. These tests were also executed from multiple U.S. locations, using low- and high-bandwidth connections and also using both the Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers. In addition we captured individual performance sessions using dynaTrace Browser Diagnostics.

The following screenshot shows the response time of the home page of this website via our Last Mile platform via a Firefox browser in the days before the Super Bowl as well as during the Super Bowl. The average page load time was around 9 seconds with the exception of the time-frame during the Super Bowl - that's when it jumped up to 30 seconds:

Synthetic Monitoring shows peak during the Super Bowl of up to 30s to load the Homepage

Analyzing Page Load Time from Monitoring Data
There were two factors that drove this spike:

  1. Higher load on their application due to the commercial aired during the Super Bowl
  2. Additional content on their page that doubled the page size

Factor 1: Higher Load
That's of course intended and a success for their marketing campaign. What you want to make sure is that you can handle the additional expected load by using CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) to deliver that static content to your end users as well as provide additional resources on your web and application servers to handle the extra load. To be prepared for that it's highly recommended that you do some up-front large scale load-testing. For more information on that you can read my recent blog posts on To Load Test or Not to Load Test: That Is Not the Question.

Factor 2: Additional Content
The average size of the home page jumped from 776kb to 1.497kb - that's double the page size. The reason for this is additional images and content that was displayed on the home page when accessed during the Super Bowl. The Gomez Monitor as well as the dynaTrace Browser Diagnostics Sessions provides detailed resource analysis that immediately highlights the additional images, stylesheets and JavaScript files. The following shows some of the additional Super Bowl-related content including size and download time:

Additional content downloaded during the Super Bowl resulting in up to 3 times higher page load times

The additional content in this case may have been necessary to fulfill the company's marketing campaign. The question is whether the additional content could have been optimized not to download 40 additional resources with a total size of > 700kb.

Deep Dive Browser Diagnostics
Looking at the dynaTrace Browser Diagnostics Data we can observe several interesting aspects.

Observation 1: Load Impact of additional resources
We can see the actual impact of these additional resources that got downloaded during the time of the game. Two of these resources took a very long time and had a major impact on page load time. The background image was delivered by their own web server and was not put on a CDN, which results in more traffic on their web servers and less than optimal performance for end users who are far away from their data centers. Another interesting aspect was an additional Facebook Like button that took 600ms to download and execute.

dynaTrace Timeline View showing the impact of additional resources on the page load time

Observation 2: Page Transition Impact of CDN User Tracking Logic
Some tracking tools out there send their data in the onbeforeunload event handler. Modern browsers actually don't allow the onbeforeunload event handlers to take too long or send any data. The workaround for this is to put in an "artificial" JavaScript loop that waits for 750ms to ensure the browser sends the AJAX Request with the tracking data before the browser navigates to the next page. We can also see this behavior on this page:

JavaScript Tracing Code from a CDN Provider adding a 750ms loop to ensure tracing data gets send before navigating to the next page

Conclusion
When you are responsible for a website that is going to see high user volume for a marketing campaign you want to:

  1. Make sure the additional content for that marketing campaign is optimized, e.g., make sure this content is on CDNs and follow the Best Practices for Web Performance Optimization
  2. Make sure you test your application with the campaign-specific features under realistic load
  3. Analyze the impact of third-party tracking tools and other widgets you put on your page

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.

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.


Cloud Expo Latest Stories
With the explosion of the cloud, more businesses are transitioning to a recurring revenue model to generate reliable sales, grow profits, and open new markets. This opportunity requires businesses to get to market quickly with the pricing and packaging options customers want. In addition, you will want to take advantage of the ensuing tidal wave of data to more effectively upsell, cross-sell and manage your customers. All of this is possible, but only with the right approach. At 15th Cloud Expo, Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder at Aria Systems and the inventor of cloud billing panelists, will lead a panel discussion on what it takes to launch and manage a successful recurring revenue business. The panelists will offer their insights about what each department will need to consider, from financial management to line of business and IT. The panelists will also offer examples from their success in recurring revenue with companies such as Audi, Constant Contact, Experian, Pitney-Bowes, Teleko...
Planning scalable environments isn't terribly difficult, but it does require a change of perspective. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, will broaden your views to think on an Internet scale by dissecting a video publishing application built with The SoftLayer Platform, Message Queuing, Object Storage, and Drupal. By examining a scalable modular application build that can handle unpredictable traffic, attendees will able to grow your development arsenal and pick up a few strategies to apply to your own projects.
Come learn about what you need to consider when moving your data to the cloud. In her session at 15th Cloud Expo, Skyla Loomis, a Program Director of Cloudant Development at Cloudant, will discuss the security, performance, and operational implications of keeping your data on premise, moving it to the cloud, or taking a hybrid approach. She will use real customer examples to illustrate the tradeoffs, key decision points, and how to be successful with a cloud or hybrid cloud solution.
The cloud provides an easy onramp to building and deploying Big Data solutions. Transitioning from initial deployment to large-scale, highly performant operations may not be as easy. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, will discuss the benefits, weaknesses, and performance characteristics of public and bare metal cloud deployments that can help you make the right decisions.
Over the last few years the healthcare ecosystem has revolved around innovations in Electronic Health Record (HER) based systems. This evolution has helped us achieve much desired interoperability. Now the focus is shifting to other equally important aspects – scalability and performance. While applying cloud computing environments to the EHR systems, a special consideration needs to be given to the cloud enablement of Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), i.e., the largest single medical system in the United States.
Cloud and Big Data present unique dilemmas: embracing the benefits of these new technologies while maintaining the security of your organization’s assets. When an outside party owns, controls and manages your infrastructure and computational resources, how can you be assured that sensitive data remains private and secure? How do you best protect data in mixed use cloud and big data infrastructure sets? Can you still satisfy the full range of reporting, compliance and regulatory requirements? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Derek Tumulak, Vice President of Product Management at Vormetric, will discuss how to address data security in cloud and Big Data environments so that your organization isn’t next week’s data breach headline.
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 the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Is your organization struggling to deal with skyrocketing volumes of digital assets? The amount of data is growing exponentially and organizations are having a hard time managing this growth. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Amar Kapadia, Senior Director of Open Cloud Strategy at Seagate, will walk through the essential considerations when developing a cloud storage strategy. In this discussion, you will understand the challenges IT is facing, why companies need to move to cloud, and how the right cloud model can help your business economically overcome the data struggle.
If cloud computing benefits are so clear, why have so few enterprises migrated their mission-critical apps? The answer is often inertia and FUD. No one ever got fired for not moving to the cloud – not yet. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Michael Hoch, SVP, Cloud Advisory Service at Virtustream, will discuss the six key steps to justify and execute your MCA cloud migration.
The 16th International Cloud Expo announces that its Call for Papers is now open. 16th International Cloud Expo, to be held June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Most of today’s hardware manufacturers are building servers with at least one SATA Port, but not every systems engineer utilizes them. This is considered a loss in the game of maximizing potential storage space in a fixed unit. The SATADOM Series was created by Innodisk as a high-performance, small form factor boot drive with low power consumption to be plugged into the unused SATA port on your server board as an alternative to hard drive or USB boot-up. Built for 1U systems, this powerful device is smaller than a one dollar coin, and frees up otherwise dead space on your motherboard. To meet the requirements of tomorrow’s cloud hardware, Innodisk invested internal R&D resources to develop our SATA III series of products. The SATA III SATADOM boasts 500/180MBs R/W Speeds respectively, or double R/W Speed of SATA II products.
In today's application economy, enterprise organizations realize that it's their applications that are the heart and soul of their business. If their application users have a bad experience, their revenue and reputation are at stake. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anand Akela, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Application Performance Management at CA Technologies, will discuss how a user-centric Application Performance Management solution can help inspire your users with every application transaction.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudian is a Foster City, Calif.-based software company specializing in cloud storage. Cloudian HyperStore® is an S3-compatible cloud object storage platform that enables service providers and enterprises to build reliable, affordable and scalable hybrid cloud storage solutions. Cloudian actively partners with leading cloud computing environments including Amazon Web Services, Citrix Cloud Platform, Apache CloudStack, OpenStack and the vast ecosystem of S3 compatible tools and applications. Cloudian's customers include Vodafone, Nextel, NTT, Nifty, and LunaCloud. The company has additional offices in China and Japan.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TechXtend (formerly Programmer’s Paradise), a leading value-added provider of server and storage virtualization, and r-evolution will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechXtend (formerly Programmer’s Paradise) is a leading value-added provider of software, systems and solutions for corporations, government organizations, and academic institutions across the United States and Canada. TechXtend is the Exclusive Reseller in the United States for r-evolution