Four Rules for Enterprise Application Performance

Written by Warner Schlais, President, Technology Services, Datatrend Technologies, Inc.

Bluestripe-webDatatrend has partnered with BlueStripe for several years, deploying BlueStripe’s FactFinder Transaction and Application Performance Management software as an integral part of Datatrend data center efficiency and cloud management solutions.

BlueStripe’s years of experience working across hundreds of clients have yielded valuable insights around enterprise application performance, plus some observations about enterprise application build and development styles. The following excerpt from the BlueStripe blog shares four rules formulated from this wealth of experience:

Rule 1.

If something is technologically possible, it’s being done in a datacenter somewhere.

Large enterprises do amazing things. We’ve seen servers using thousands of processes, ports, network connections, and disks, sometimes with extremely rapid connection establishment and teardown. We’ve seen load balancers and secure encryption used between every tier of a distributed application, and we’ve seen these technologies used nowhere in an application – sometimes within the same vertical. We’ve seen a single web transaction trigger 20,000 SQL transactions, intentionally and by design. We’ve seen transaction errors deliberately used to trigger ordinary application control flow, and ATMs running an entire multi-tier application inside a mid-sized desktop PC.

Rule 2.

Most architectural choices are neither right nor wrong – but they are often surprising.

Enterprise IT departments make lots of choices almost always for reasons that make sense for their business at the time of the decision. As an outsider who sometimes looks at customers’ well established applications, these reasons aren’t always immediately clear. IT Operations teams often have the same “who designed this thing anyway?” reaction when they look under the covers at how their own longstanding in-house applications are put together. When working on firefights or application audits, it is important to avoid quick judgments and just stick to the facts. Sometimes we’ll see something that looks strange to us, but it’s entirely by design and the application team has no interest in changing it. Other times we’ll see behavior that could be entirely explainable and commonplace, but it shocks the architect and leads to rapid changes.

Rule 3.

Many application performance problems are the result of choices that clearly ARE wrong.

There’s a big difference between an architectural choice and a mistake. I’ve seen production applications that send DNS calls to development servers and applications from many different groups within a business tapping into the same database without ever clearing it with the actual database owner. We’ve seen IPv6 address resolutions occurring by the thousands per hour in datacenters that shouldn’t be using IPv6 at all, and nobody seems to know why. We’ve seen servers running for years where no one knew what the purpose of the server was, but everyone was afraid to de-commission or move the server for fear of breaking someone’s application. These are all examples of outright mistakes that happen frequently.

Rule 4.

Application Visibility drives application performance improvements.

Regardless of whether the source of the issue is an architectural decision that made sense at the time (but now causes problems), misconfiguration of infrastructure resources, or a bungled transition from development to operations, visibility into the actual workings of distributed applications gets people to see the problem and the solution quickly.

The breadth of application technologies is vast and covers transaction protocols, server & network internals, middleware & database products, legacy technologies, and programming languages. To make sense of it all, the key is to combine hard facts about dynamic application infrastructure – in which BlueStripe specializes – with the knowledge and history that exists in each enterprise. Amazing improvements in performance and availability are possible when these two worlds are joined.

For more information on FactFinder or our BlueStripe services, please contact Warner Schlais, President of Technology Services or call 1-800-367-7472