Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Visual Tornadoes and Cyclones

Although physical tornadoes and cyclones are in the news at the moment, there are also the virtual kind or more significantly for PerfViz, the visual kind.

For a long time, I've thought it would be cool to be able to visualize system performance as a shape but was never quite sure what that meant. My role model has been SciViz, where complicated system dynamics like the time-development of tornadoes can be visualized in 3D animations. More recently, the cyclone paradigm has been used for textual analysis based on word repetition (The novel "Frankenstein" is show above). The more a word is used, the larger is its cube. Blue cubes are words that are unique, red cubes are not. The diameter of the rings is determined by the size of the paragraphs. Who woulda thunk it?

The closest I've come to producing performance data as a "shape" is this:

which shows processor %user, %system, and %idle time for a 72-way SMP running a transaction workload on ORACLE 10g over a 20 minute measurement period. Data supplied by Tim Cook of Sun Microsystems. The time-development of the data (not shown here) is not too far removed from the tornado animation in the first figure.

1 comment:

znmeb said...

The Oracle picture is strikingly reminiscent of some of the clustering exercises from the Rggobi textbook. The challenges for PerfViz are, IMHO

1. Resisting the urge to wallow in the data, make pretty graphs, stunning movies, etc., instead of just answering the business questions,

2. Merging the often separate tool sets for performance troubleshooting and capacity planning.