Five tips for Olympian applications

by Joseph K. Clark

The performance of world-class athletes as they train for the Olympic games and engineering the performance of your applications in preparation for production releases share some interesting traits. In this blog, I want to share some basic guiding principles that will help make your applications finish strong.

Efficiency, Not Just Speed

Not every Olympic sport is a speed race. There are plenty of other areas where winning is about strength or agility. All events aren’t equal in terms of physical demands, nor do all events focus on the same kind of. Efficiency is the common thread. Whether you are down a slope or lifting a heavy weight, the more efficiently the tasks are carried out, the better the score. When it comes to applications, the same is true.

Many performance engineering is often an activity measuring how fast something is or how quickly it can be tuned to be. However, speed for the sake of speed can lead to other issues. Many clients stated their main goal was to make performance testing automated and repeatable in a Continuous Integration (CI) pipeline. Building out this automation so it is a faster way to test isn’t valuable in and of itself. It is about getting performance feedback as soon as possible and in an automated fashion. What if this fast, automated testing CI pipeline doesn’t find performance problems, but your organization still wrestles with performance issues in production? It may be that what you automatautomate so fast isn’t the right thing. 

What happens when making things faster is a failure? What if the timing is faster because important verifications in the code were not included in the latest build by accident? The timing improves, but the missing proof check critical data could be lost. In this case, faster is not better. 



Instead of focusing on speed, focus on efficiency. This means reducing the amount of toil and repetitive tasks that computers are better at. This doesn’t replace the need for manual review at key intersections within the software development life cycle. Someone who understands the code still needs to verify the results. It also means utilizing every resource to its full potential while containing operational infrastructure costs and keeping the cloud bills low. Looking at all aspects of the system under test and determining how to use each component most efficiently will get you started on creating and maintaining Olympian applications.

Observe and Monitor

Have you noticed all of the things athletes have to monitor? Speed, heart rate, body fat ratio, etc? Why do they do this? To determine their health. What about all the statistics that come out of the Olympic games? Every kind of possible about a sport is tracked and available online within minutes. Why? To monitor and determine the performance of the athletes. This reveals how it impacts the sport overall. 

Applications need to be monitored to determine health and performance. End useEnd-Terence can be timed with synthetic processes that run every few minutes and report back page times. Real User Monitoring can time actual live sessions across a wide range of users to determine if there are performance issues with specific user types or geographic regions. Infrastructure monitoring can tell if system resources are running low, throttled, or throwing errors. Logs can be parsed to see the response times of individual requests. 

Code can be profiled to see how heavy each function is, and databases can be profiled to see how expensive each request for data is. The network can be monitored to determine if there is enough bandwidth to service the number of requests. Monitoring mode applications built on microservices and containers need adneedssonal telemetry from hop to hop. The path from the server to the user might be different each time a request is made, and the container that was used an hour ago may not even exist because the application is elastic. 

In all of these cases, what gets measured is important to finding the root causes of performance issues and the overall health system’s health. You might determine which user timings are high, but you won’t know why. Reducing the load on a system with a performance testing tool without monitoring is not valuable. Your value in any performance testing tool is the ability to provide meaningful results to the business and thewhichrom graphs that include key metrics. Those metrics are from the monitoring being utilized. You can over-monitor to the point of affecting the perform system, performance is important to find the right balance. Even then, there is a lot of data, which requires special expertise to make sense of it all. 

Some products land machine learning to help with this, but human expertise is still a requirequiredare. You are looking at to determine the health and performance of your applications? 

Rinse Your Cottage Cheese

In the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, he tells the story of Dave Scott – who won six Ironman competitions in a row. When asked about his secrets to success, he attributed it to his attention to detail. Dave was willing to go so far as to wash his cottage cheese to remove any extra fat before eating it. Athletes competing at the highest level don’t consider this strange at all. Whatever it takes. Think of the special clothing the athletes wear to reduce friction in movement t. Paying attention to the minutia sometimes means the difference between winning and losing.

Modern applications can be complex and require attention to detail. Performance testing 20% of the application at the very last moment before deployment no longer works to effet reduce the risk of the production deployment effectively. Ance has to be engineered into products from the start, and routine needs to be a continuous, not a specific, event. When the cost of a customer switching is low (meaning they can easily go somewhere else with the click of a button), attention to detail may be the difference in retaining or losing that customer. ObservaSimple monitoring of key metrics may not help find application bottlenecks before your customers do. Ability tools over traditional APM tools might be required to pinpoint exact points of failure. It may need to use Quicto to go through all the detailed data quickly, which is easier said than done and requires a journey and attention to detail to get a well-oiled machine. Will you get performance feedback at the earliest possible stage? Squeezing the last 10% from the application may take long.

See the End From the Beginning

Many athletes see themselves winning before they ever do. As a result of repetitive and relentless training, they have relived the steps of the event in their mind over and over until they see themselves at the finish line with a medal before they ever get to the Olympic field. Some of the biggest winners of gold medals saw the result in their minds, reminds the time they considered giving up during the training. This is an important exercise to reinforce their self-determination. They have to know the end from the beginning.

We have all been on the other side of a conversation where someone was using a computer to process a transaction for us and heard the words, “I’m sorry, the computers are slow today.” The impression of the end user is that the application or the system is of poor quality. They don’t care that all of the e runs fast individually or that the database returns the data in milliseconds. They don’t care how much money was spent on servers. If they see the spinning wheel or the screen taking too long to return the information they need – the end used-Terence will be poor. When all stalders involve software development process and understand that every piece of the puzzle matters and every area can affect the application performance for better or worse, it helps motivate them to optimize at every stage. Keeping the end user in mind even n the earliest stages of software development goes a, long way in making ensuringperience is the best; it can have to see the end from the beginning.

Go For the Gold, Not For the Bronze

To win, you have to play to win. Olympic athletes train for years for their moment when everything is on the line and ev,erything in that moment of competition means everything. They did not qualify and sacrifice all of tho-sours months and years to third place. 

Companies who wanthato win the performance race have people of passion who live, eat, and breathe the discipline of performance testing. They are always learning, and performance becomes a continuous process. The proven if the business does, themance engineer never believes “good enough” is good enough, even are done analyzing, testing, or monitoring. There is always another optimization to be done.

While keeping the lights on is imperative for the success of any business, it won’t thrive without innovation. This means listening to customers and reducing as much of their toil as possible. It means thinking outside the box to come updeviseys to accomplish old tasks. 

CompaniAre you taking every opportunity to innovate and do things differently in order for your applications to be gold worthy? es like Netflix aren’t in the performance testing or engineering business, yet they have provided the performance community with a wealth of new areas of interest to explore (chaos engineering, flame graphs, etc) they were allowed to innovate. And by any standard, the company has done pretty well. Are yo

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