What to look for when analyzing system performance

“80 percent of datacenter managers said their datacenter downtime costs exceed $50,000 per hour.” –USA Today 2014 survey of 200 data centers

Here’s our list of the top 10 factors impacting application performance. They may cause problems and downtime issues that disrupt day-to-day operations, decreasing client satisfaction, harming employee productivity, reputation and revenue. Today’s IT organizations are realizing that managing complex, modern applications is a costly, tedious and sometimes frustrating proposition.

So, what are the main factors impacting application performance?

1. The Network

Inconsistent bandwidth, variable contention and increased latency can all have significantly negative effects on application performance.

The variability of connectivity over the network is one of the major performance risks for most businesses: if you can’t control how information is being sent to your client, you can’t control the speed at which it arrives. This makes it extremely hard to know exactly how you should develop your site.

Monitoring network bandwidth and web application performance from various locations helps isolate issues down to the network level. In addition, it’s vital to monitor what’s going on so that you can determine the best cloud provider for your end users.

2. Third-Party Components

Third-party web components are among the greatest factors affecting web application performance, these days. If your system depends on third-party data and that third party becomes unavailable, your system could fail completely. Likewise, poor performance by the third party can have a domino effect on your system’s performance.

3. Integration

Integrated applications are network-dependent, run across multiple levels, access integration middleware and are significantly more delicate than stand-alone applications. Transactions can navigate multiple applications, heterogeneous platforms, and software, making literally thousands of “hops.” This level of complexity implies that a substantial percentage of today’s applications simply can’t be successfully managed by manpower, alone.

4. Application Design

Performance goals need to be clearly defined, right from the requirements phase. Unfortunately, the reality today is that performance is looked at either during testing or once a system goes live. This never works as well as when performance is identified as one of the key goals of the application design before a line of code is even written.

In addition, inefficient code algorithms at the application layer, suboptimal SQL queries, and poorly configured network infrastructure are all frequently major factors affecting application performance.

5. Lack of Testing

Insufficient testing of an application in its actual production environment and under varying conditions impacts performance. It is crucial that developers and testers have a clear understanding of the non-functional performance criteria.

An issue that many face is a failure to test early enough and regularly enough during the development process. Although testing early may add additional development time to an already tight schedule, it’s important to remember that it is easier (and less expensive) to prevent a problem from happening in the first place, than it is to fix it once it has already occurred.

6. The Capability to Identify Issues

Many organizations still do not have the capability to enable them to determine if their issues with application performance are caused by network, server or application-related problems. Organizations are increasingly trying to improve the quality of their end-user experience, yet the majority are still not able to identify which parts of their enterprise infrastructure is responsible for causing their application performance problems.

7. The Mobile Environment

Due to the increase in the number of users engaging with software via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, mobile apps (or mobile versions of desktop apps) need to be designed with those platforms in mind for the best possible results.

8. User Behavior

How many people will be using your application simultaneously and for what kind of transactions?

It is vital to understand real user transaction and activity flows in order to avoid bottlenecks in performance during the most critical peak usage periods.

Planning and executing performance tests are necessary to prove that a particular software system meets its performance requirements and to see how it responds to sudden spikes in workload.

9. Communication

In today’s application environments there is no single individual in an IT organization who can understand everything that is required to deliver an application effectively at the level of performance that the business expects. Continual, efficient sharing of information is the best way to fill in any gaps and guarantee that an organization can benefit from its collective knowledge to ensure that the required quality of service is met.

10. Lack of Monitoring

The inability to get a complete picture of application health, availability and real time usage is another factor that impacts application performance. Organizations need management tools that provide a single pane of glass view of all their IT resources and workloads, to ensure critical business applications are always available and running at peak performance.

When IT teams deal with end-user complaints about application performance issues, they need to know what parts of the enterprise infrastructure are causing these issues. Having this information allows them to identify the underlying causes of performance issues and make educated choices about actions needed to resolve performance problems in timely manner.

Are there any other factors you would add to the list? Leave a comment!

 


Recommended for You

Software Performance Testing Fallacies Part 1
Designing Performance Tests With a Little Bit of Futurology