Saturday, October 8, 2016

Crib Sheet for Emulating Web Traffic

Our paper entitled, How to Emulate Web Traffic Using Standard Load Testing Tools is now available online and will be presented at the upcoming CMG conference in November.

Presenter: James Brady
Session Number: 436
Subject Area: APM
Session Date: WED, November 9, 2016
Session Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Session Room: PortofinoB

Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Clue for Remembering Little's Law

During the Guerrilla Data Analysis class last week, alumnus Jeff P. came up with this novel mnemonic device for remembering all three forms of Little's law for a queue with mean arrival rate $\lambda$.

The right-hand side of each equation representing a version of Little's law is written vertically in the order $R, W, S$, which matches the expression $R=W+S$ for the mean residence time, viz., the sum of the mean waiting time ($W$) and the mean service time ($S$).

The letters on the left-hand side: $Q, L, U$ (reading vertically) respectively correspond to the queueing metrics: queue-length, waiting-line length, and utilization, which can be read as the word clue.

Incidentally, the middle formula is the version that appears in the title of John Little's original paper:

J. D. C. Little, ``A Proof for the Queuing Formula: L = λ W,''
Operations Research, 9 (3): 383—387 (1961)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

PDQ as a Performance Periscope

This is a guest post by performance modeling enthusiast, Mohit Chawla, who brought the following very interesting example to my attention. In contrast to many of the examples in my Perl::PDQ book, these performance data come from a production web server, not a test rig. —NJG

Performance analysts usually build performance models based on their understanding of the software application's behavior. However, this post describes how a PDQ model acted like a periscope and also turned out to be pedagogical by uncovering otherwise hidden details about the application's inner workings and performance characteristics.

Some Background

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Erlang Redux Resolved! (This time for real)

As I show in my Perl::PDQ book, the residence time at an M/M/1 queue is trivial to derive and (unlike most queueing theory texts) does not require any probability theory arguments. Great for Guerrillas! However, by simply adding another server (i.e., M/M/2), that same Guerrilla approach falls apart. This situation has always bothered me profoundly and on several occasions I thought I saw how to get to the exact formula—the Erlang C formula—Guerrilla style. But, on later review, I always found something wrong.

Although I've certainly had correct pieces of the puzzle, at various times, I could never get everything to fit in a completely consistent way. No matter how creative I got, I always found a fly in the ointment. The best I had been able to come up with is what I call the "morphing model" approximation where you start out with $m$ parallel queues at low loads and it morphs into a single $m$-times faster M/M/1 queue at high loads.

That model is also exact for $m = 2$ servers—which is some kind of progress, but not much. Consequently, despite a few misplaced enthusiastic announcements in the past, I've never been able to publish the fully corrected morphing model.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

2016 Guerrilla Training Schedule 2016

After a six month hiatus working on a major consulting gig, Guerrilla training classes are back in business with the three classic courses: Guerrilla Bootcamp (GBOOT), Guerrilla Capacity Planning (GCAP) and Guerrilla Data Analysis Techniques (GDAT).

See what graduates are saying about these courses.

Some course highlights:

  • There are only 3 performance metrics you need to know
  • How to quantify scalability with the Universal Scalability Law
  • Hadoop performance and capacity management
  • Virtualization Spectrum from hyper-threads to cloud services
  • How to detect bad data
  • Statistical forecasting techniques
  • Machine learning algorithms applied to performance data

Register online. Early-bird discounts run through the end of July.

As usual, Sheraton Four Points has bedrooms available at the Performance Dynamics discounted rate.

Tell a friend and see you in September!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

PDQ 7.0 Dev is Underway

The primary goal for this release is to make PDQ acceptable for uploading to CRAN. This is a non-trivial exercise because there is some legacy C code in the PDQ library that needs to be reorganized while, at the same time, keeping it consistent for programmatically porting to other languages besides R—chiefly Perl (for the book) and Python.

To get there, the following steps have been identified:

  1. High Priority

    1. Migrate from SourceForge to GitHub.
    2. Change the return type for these functions from int to void:
      • PDQ_CreateOpen()
      • PDQ_CreateClosed()
      • PDQ_CreateNode()
      • PDQ_CreateMultiNode()
      Using the returned int as a counter was deprecated in version 6.1.1.
    3. Convert PDQ-R to Rcpp interface.
    4. Clean out the Examples directory and other contributed code directories leaving only Examples that actually use the PDQ C library.
    5. Add unit tests for PDQ C library, as well as the Perl, Python, and R languages.
    6. Get interface accepted on CRAN
    7. Add the ability to solve multi-server queueing nodes servicing an arbitrary number of workloads.

  2. Low Priority

    1. Get interface accepted on CPAN and PyPI.
    2. Convert to build system from makefiles to Cmake.

Stay tuned!

—njg and pjp

Friday, May 13, 2016

How to Emulate Web Traffic Using Standard Load Testing Tools

The following abstract has been submitted to CMG 2016:

How to Emulate Web Traffic Using Standard Load Testing Tools

James Brady (State of Nevada) and Neil Gunther (Performance Dynamics)

Conventional load-testing tools are based on a fifty year old time-share computer paradigm where a finite number of users submit requests and respond in a synchronized fashion. Conversely, modern web traffic is essentially asynchronous and driven by an unknown number of users. This difference presents a conundrum for testing the performance of modern web applications. Even when the difference is recognized, performance engineers often introduce virtual-user script modifications based on hearsay; much of which leads to wrong results. We present a coherent methodology for emulating web traffic that can be applied to existing test tools.

Keywords: load testing, workload simulation, web applications, software performance engineering, performance modeling

Related blog posts:

  1. Emulating Web Traffic in Load Tests
  2. Mapping Virtual Users to Real Users
  3. How to Extend Load Tests with PDQ