Welcome!

Java Authors: Elizabeth White, Torben Andersen, Sergio Varga, Liz McMillan, Patrick Carey

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Java, SOA & WOA, Virtualization, Web 2.0, Security

Cloud Expo: Blog Feed Post

Does Cloud Solve or Increase the "Four Pillars" Problem?

Dealing with web app perf monitoring in a changing world

It has long been said – often by this author – that there are four pillars to application performance:

  1. Memory
  2. CPU
  3. Network
  4. Storage

As soon as you resolve one in response to application response times, another becomes the bottleneck, even if you are not hitting that bottleneck yet.

For a bit more detail, they are

  • “memory consumption” – because this impacts swapping in modern Operating Systems.
  • “CPU utilization” – because regardless of OS, there is a magic line after which performance degrades radically.
  • “Network throughput” – because applications have to communicate over the network, and blocking or not (almost all coding for networks today is), the information requested over the network is necessary and will eventually block code from continuing to execute.
  • “Storage” – because IOPS matter when writing/reading to/from disk (or the OS swaps memory out/back in).

These four have long been relatively easy to track. The relationship is pretty easy to spot, when you resolve one problem, one of the others becomes the “most dangerous” to application performance. But historically, you’ve always had access to the hardware. Even in highly virtualized environments, these items could be considered both at the Host and Guest level – because both individual VMs and the entire system matter.

When moving to the cloud, the four pillars become much less manageable. The amount “much less” implies depends a lot upon your cloud provider, and how you define “cloud”.

Put in simple terms, if you are suddenly struck blind, that does not change what’s in front of you, only your ability to perceive it.

In the PaaS world, you have only the tools the provider offers to measure these things, and are urged not to think of the impact that host machines may have on your app. But they do have an impact. In an IaaS world you have somewhat more insight, but as others have pointed out, less control than in your datacenter.

Picture Courtesy of Stanley Rabinowitz, Math Pro Press.

In the SaaS world, assuming you include that in “cloud”, you have zero control and very little insight. If you app is not performing, you’ll have to talk to the vendors’ staff to (hopefully) get them to resolve issues.

But is the problem any worse in the cloud than in the datacenter? I would have to argue no. Your ability to touch and feel the bits is reduced, but the actual problems are not. In a pureplay public cloud deployment, the performance of an application is heavily dependent upon your vendor, but the top-tier vendors (Amazon springs to mind) can spin up copies as needed to reduce workload. This is not a far cry from one common performance trick used in highly virtualized environments – bring up another VM on another server and add them to load balancing. If the app is poorly designed, the net result is not that you’re buying servers to host instances, it is instead that you’re buying instances directly.

This has implications for IT. The reduced up-front cost of using an inefficient app – no matter which of the four pillars it is inefficient in – means that IT shops are more likely to tolerate inefficiency, even though in the long run the cost of paying monthly may be far more than the cost of purchasing a new server was, simply because the budget pain is reduced.

There are a lot of companies out there offering information about cloud deployments that can help you to see if you feel blind.

Fair disclosure, F5 is one of them, I work for F5. That’s all you’re going to hear on that topic in this blog.

While knowing does not always directly correlate to taking action, and there is some information that only the cloud provider could offer you, knowing where performance bottlenecks are does at least give some level of decision-making back to IT staff. If an application is performing poorly, looking into what appears to be happening (you can tell network bandwidth, VM CPU usage, VM IOPS, etc, but not what’s happening on the physical hardware) can inform decision-making about how to contain the OpEx costs of cloud.

Internal cloud is a much easier play, you still have access to all the information you had before cloud came along, and generally the investigation is similar to that used in a highly virtualized environment. From a troubleshooting performance problems perspective, it’s much the same. The key with both virtualization and internal (private) clouds is that you’re aiming for maximum utilization of resources, so you will have to watch for the bottlenecks more closely – you’re “closer to the edge” of performance problems, because you designed it that way.

A comprehensive logging and monitoring environment can go a long way in all cloud and virtualization environments to keeping on top of issues that crop up – particularly in a large datacenter with many apps running.

And developer education on how not to be a resource hog is helpful for internally developed apps. For externally developed apps the best you can do is ask for sizing information and then test their assumptions before buying.

Sometimes, cloud simply is the right choice. If network bandwidth is the prime limiting factor, and your organization can accept the perceived security/compliance risks, for example, the cloud is an easy solution – bandwidth in the cloud is either not limited, or limited by your willingness to write a monthly check to cover usage. Either way, it’s not an Internet connection upgrade, which can be dastardly expensive not just at install, but month after month.

Keep rocking it. Get the visibility you need, don’t worry about what you don’t need.

More Stories By Don MacVittie

Don MacVittie is Founder of Ingrained Technology, LLC, specializing in Development, Devops, and Cloud Strategy. Previously, he was a Technical Marketing Manager at F5 Networks. As an industry veteran, MacVittie has extensive programming experience along with project management, IT management, and systems/network administration expertise.

Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was a Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing, where he conducted product research and evaluated storage and server systems, as well as development and outsourcing solutions. He has authored numerous articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard 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. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
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 at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., 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.
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 industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, 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 its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...