Welcome!

Machine Learning Authors: William Schmarzo, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, James Carlini

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Machine Learning , @DXWorldExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Managing the Performance of Cloud-Based Applications

Here are a few important considerations for choosing an APM solution that works in the cloud

In the last post I covered several architectural techniques you can use to build a highly scalable, failure resistant application in the cloud. However, these architectural changes - along with the inherent unreliability of the cloud - introduce some new problems for application performance management. Many organizations rely on logging, profilers, and legacy application performance monitoring (APM) solutions to monitor and manage performance in the data center, but these strategies and solutions simply aren't enough when you move into the cloud. Here are a few important considerations for choosing an APM solution that works in the cloud.

Business Transactions
Many monitoring solutions check for server availability and alert users when a server goes down. In the cloud, however, servers can come and go all the time, so alerting on availability will result in a lot of false positives. In addition, many of the server-level metrics that APM tools and server monitoring tools report are no longer as relevant as they were on a vertically scaled system. For example, what does 90% CPU utilization mean to the behavior of your cloud application? Does it mean there is an impending performance problem that needs to be addressed? Or does it mean that more servers need to be added into that tier? This goes for other metrics, too, like physical memory usage, JVM memory usage, thread usage, database connection pool usage, and so on. These are all good indicators of the performance of a single server, but when servers can come and go they're no longer the best approximation of the performance of your application as a whole.

Instead, it's best to understand performance in terms of Business Transactions. A business transaction is essentially a user request - for an eCommerce application, "Check out" or "Add to Cart" may be two important business transactions. Each business transaction includes all of the downstream activities until the end user receives a response (and perhaps more, if your application uses asynchronous communication). For example, an application may define a service that performs request validation, stores data in a database, and then publishes a request to a topic. A JMS listener might receive that message from the topic, make a call to an external service, and then store the data in a Hadoop cluster. All of these activities need to be grouped together into a single Business Transaction so that you can understand how every part of your system affects your end users.

Tiers

With these various tiers tracked at the Business Transaction level, the next step is to measure performance at the tier level. While it is important to know when a Business Transaction is behaving abnormally, it is equally as important to detect performance anomalies at the tier level. If the response time of a Business Transaction, as a whole, is slow by one standard deviation (which is acceptable) but one of its tiers is slower by a factor of three standard deviations, you may have a problem developing, even though it hasn't affected your end users yet. Chances are the tier's problem will evolve into a systemic problem that causes multiple Business Transactions to suffer.

Returning to our example from figure 3, let's say the web service behaves well, but the topic listener is significantly slower than usual. The topic listener has not caused a problem in the Business Transaction itself, but it has slowed down enough to cause concern, so there might be an issue that needs to be addressed. Business Transactions, therefore, need to be evaluated both as a whole and at the tier level in order to identify performance issues before they arise. The only way to effectively monitor the performance of an application in a dynamic environment is to capture metrics at the Business Transaction level and the tier level.

Baselines
One of the most important reasons that many organizations move to the cloud is to be able to scale applications up and down rapidly as load changes. If the load on your application fluctuates dramatically over the day, week or year, the cloud will allow you to scale your application infrastructure efficiently to meet that load. However, most application monitoring tools are not equipped to handle such dramatic shifts in load or performance. Application monitoring tools that rely on static thresholds for alerting and data collection will create alert storms when load increases and miss potential problems when it decreases. You need to be able to understand what normal performance is for a given time of day, day of the week or time of the year, which is best done by baselining the performance of your application over time.

Baselining your application essentially means collecting data around how your application performs (or how a specific Business Transactions performs) at any given time. Having this data will allow you (or your APM solution) to determine if how your application is performing now is normal or if it might indicate a problem. Baselines can be defined on a per-hour basis over a period of time - for example, for the past 30 days, how has Checkout performed from 9:00am to 10:00am? In this configuration, the response time of a specific Business Transaction will be compared to the average response time for that Business Transaction over the past 30 days, between the hours of 9:00am and 10:00am. If the response time is greater than some measurable value, such as two standard deviations, then the monitoring system should raise an alert. Figure 4 attempts to show this graphically.

The average response time for this Business Transaction is about 1.75 seconds, with two standard deviations being between 1.5 seconds and 2 seconds, captured over the past 30 days. All incoming occurrences of this Business Transaction during this hour (9:00am to 10:00am in this example) will be compared to the average of 1.75 seconds, and if the response time exceeds two standard deviations from this normal (2 seconds), then an alert will be raised.

What happens if the behavior of your users differs from day to day or month to month? Your monitoring solution should be configurable enough to handle this. Banking applications probably have spikes in load twice a month when most people get paid, and eCommerce applications are inundated on Black Friday. By baselining the performance of these applications over the year, an APM tool could anticipate this load and expect slower performance during these times. Make sure your APM tool is configurable or intelligent enough that it can understand what's "normal" behavior for your app.

Dynamic Application Mapping
Many monitoring solutions today require manual configuration to instrument and monitor a new server. If new servers are disappearing and appearing all the time, however, this will result in blind spots as you update the tool to reflect the new environment. This will quickly become untenable as your application scales. A cloud-ready monitoring tool must automatically detect and map the application in real time, so you always have an up-to-date idea of what your application looks like. For agent-based monitoring solutions, this can be accomplished by deploying your agent along with your application so that new nodes are automatically instrumented by your APM solution of choice.

The post Managing the Performance of Cloud-Based Applications written by Dustin.Whittle appeared first on Application Performance Monitoring Blog from AppDynamics.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By AppDynamics Blog

In high-production environments where release cycles are measured in hours or minutes — not days or weeks — there's little room for mistakes and no room for confusion. Everyone has to understand what's happening, in real time, and have the means to do whatever is necessary to keep applications up and running optimally.

DevOps is a high-stakes world, but done well, it delivers the agility and performance to significantly impact business competitiveness.

@CloudExpo Stories
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, addressed this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of the ...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We're focused on how to get some of the attributes that you would expect from an Amazon, Azure, Google, and doing that on-prem. We believe today that you can actually get those types of things done with certain architectures available in the market today," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Data scientists must access high-performance computing resources across a wide-area network. To achieve cloud-based HPC visualization, researchers must transfer datasets and visualization results efficiently. HPC clusters now compute GPU-accelerated visualization in the cloud cluster. To efficiently display results remotely, a high-performance, low-latency protocol transfers the display from the cluster to a remote desktop. Further, tools to easily mount remote datasets and efficiently transfer...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...