Posted by: Ian Molyneaux | February 1, 2012

Performance Assurance through really understanding your Applications

In my experience a lot of performance problems stem from an incomplete understanding of how an application interacts with the environment it is deployed into.
Something I always recommend is to create a performance “statement” for every core application in your IT Estate. Think of this as describing the characteristics, footprint and touch-points of an application. This should include:

Design:
The way an application uses memory, CPU and I/O.

Operations:
The deployment model for the application
How it’s monitored
How it’s configured

KPI’s:
What metrics need to be collected to monitor performance, application and infrastructure?
What thresholds should be set so that infrastructure and application KPI’s are correctly aligned?

Interaction:
What services the application interacts with, external and internal
What other applications this application interacts with

Business:
What BI metrics are collected?
The typical usage profile, day to day and peaks

With this information at hand it becomes a much easier task to determine if you application is behaving normally or has regressed in terms of performance and/or capacity. In other words you minimise the false positives and negatives. For example It may be a conscious design decision that an application grabs as much memory as it can at the application server layer. This means that for this application, generic memory usage KPI’s may have completely inappropriate thresholds and generate redundant alerts.

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing but not when it comes to maintaining application performance!

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