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Performance Testing and APM Week 1 – Dynatrace

Welcome once again to the Intechnica Performance Podcast series!

We have a new topic starting this month: Performance Testing and APM (Application Performance Management). You probably do performance testing, and you might have an APM tool you’re using for monitoring or troubleshooting. But are you aligning the two? This series aims to demonstrate some of the whys and hows.

Each week, Intechnica Head of Performance Ian Molyneaux (author of “The Art of Application Performance Testing”) will go into some detail around a specific APM tool and its individual capabilities and idiosyncrasies around integration with performance testing. In week 1 we’re focusing on Dynatrace.

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Find out about Intechnica’s expertise in Performance Testing and Application Performance Management.

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Is there such a thing as a fair queue when buying sports tickets online?

When’s the last time you bought a ticket for a sporting event online?

You might remember the problems many people had securing tickets for the London Olympics back in 2012, where website glitches and various delays left many people frustrated (we covered it in this post about web performance nightmares).

Or perhaps you have recently been part of an online queue to buy tickets to the England Rugby World Cup, or to one of many Premiership Football games.

The popularity of these events and the relative scarcity of actual tickets to be sold puts the businesses selling them and maintaining these websites in a unique position. Even when you pretty much know you’re going to sell out, why should you care about the customer experience?

For one thing, fans are quick to voice their disapproval of a bad experience online and lose faith in the process altogether. Let’s take a look at some of the things being said on social media about the online ticket buying experience.

Inconsistent or unfair queue

Sometimes you get placed into a queue, but it never seems to move. Or your position seems to jump around at random, giving you little confidence that the information being shown to you is at all meaningful.

Here are some examples of this from people trying to buy tickets for the Rugby World Cup:

Get to the back of the line – Kicked out of the queue

There’s nothing worse than investing your time into waiting in line for something, only to get to the front and suddenly find yourself at the back of the queue. Are you going to go through the wait all over again or just abandon the queue and your purchase?

It seems like the fans of quite a few football clubs have suffered this fate:

Website crash – No chance to buy

Queues can be frustrating, but even worse is when a site simply breaks and won’t let you make your purchase. This is often down to the popularity of the tickets in question overloading the website with traffic.

Here are a few examples from top football clubs:

So why should ticketing site owners care?

Clearly fans become very frustrated by unfair, inconsistent or broken ticket sales. It makes sense for ticket vendors to use a queue to try to create a fair environment for fans whilst allowing the website to cope gracefully with the high levels of traffic, but often it seems the technology behind these queues are not up to scratch (as evidenced in the above tweets).

What can they do about it?

Intechnica have developed TrafficDefender, a solution specifically designed to provide the best possible customer experience during high demand web events such as ticket sales.

TrafficDefender is built to cope with extreme peaks in traffic to ensure the website defended won’t go down. What’s more, its advanced queueing functionality allows visitors to access the website or specified area of the website in a controlled “first in, first out” manner, always shows accurate information to those waiting, and has advanced features such as live reporting and VIP visitors.

Find out more about TrafficDefender

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Is WebAssembly the dawn of a new age of web performance?

This post was contributed by Intechnica Performance Architect Cristian Vanti. Check out another of his posts, “Performance Testing is not a luxury, it’s a necessity”.

Even though the internet was created several years earlier, I think that the birth of the World Wide Web as we know it coincides with the release of the Mosaic browser in 1993.

In the past 22 years, everything to do with the web has changed incredibly fast and very few things have resisted change during this time. I can think of only three examples of this:

  • IPv4 (born in 1981)
  • HTTP 1.1 (born in 1997)
  • Javascript (born in 1995)

The first was superseded years ago, even if IPv6 hasn’t been fully adopted despite several attempts.

In February finally HTTP/2 has been formally approved, and easily it will quickly replace version 1.1 after 18 years.

Yet Javascript, after 20 years, is still the only language universally used in web browsers. There were some attempts to replace it with Java applets, Flash or Silverlight but none of them has ever threatened Javascript’s position. On the contrary, it started to conquer the servers as well (primes example: Node.JS).

While in the server area, a plethora of different languages have been created aiming to simplify the development of web applications. In the front end, Javascript has been the only real option.

On 17th June 2014, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla jointly announced WebAssembly. This could be a turning point for front end development for several reasons.

Firstly, there have been several attempts to replace Javascript, but each one was backed by a single player. This time the three main browser developers have joined to overcome Javascript.

Secondly, they decided to not replace Javascript in a disruptive way, but rather putting at its side a new binary format, a sort of bytecode. The user will not see any difference; everything will continue to work in the same way for whoever wants to stay with Javascript, but a huge opportunity has been created for those who want to develop faster applications.

Thirdly, the performance improvement that WebAssembly could carry is impossible by any other means.

And lastly, WebAssembly is a brilliant solution, something so simple but so powerful, something that should have been invented years ago.

WebAssembly is simply a binary format for Javascript. It isn’t a real bytecode: It is the binary format for the Javascript Abstract Syntax Tree (AST), the product of the first step in the Javascript parsing, nothing more. It is not a new framework, not a new language, not another vulnerability option. Not another virtual machine, but still the good old Javascript one.

In this way the webserver will not send the pure Javascript text but instead will send the first elaboration for that code in a binary format. The benefits will be a more compact size for the code and less work for the browser compiler.

But the full potential comes from the use of asm.js, a highly optimizable subset of Javascript that Mozilla created some time ago and is already implemented by all the biggest browsers. asm.js code is only slightly slower than C code, giving CPU intensive applications a great opportunity. Moreover there are already cross-compilers that can parse other languages (C, C++, Java, C#, etc.) and produce asm.js code. This means that it’s been possible to compile game engine code to asm.js, and the same will happen for heavy desktop applications like CAD or image editors.

Silently asm.js and WebAssembly are leading us to a new internet age.

This post was contributed by Intechnica Performance Architect Cristian Vanti. Check out another of his posts, “Performance Testing is not a luxury, it’s a necessity”.

Performance Analysis Week 4 – Performance Defects

This month’s topic is “Performance Analysis”, hosted by Intechnica Head of Performance Ian Molyneaux (author of “The Art of Application Performance Testing”).

In the fourth and final week of this series, hear about identifying and managing Performance Defects.

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Find out about Intechnica’s expertise in Performance Testing.

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Intechnica are sponsoring Velocity Conference in New York and Amsterdam – Get 25% off your pass

We’re happy to announce that Intechnica are now silver sponsors for the O’Reilly Velocity Conference 2015, both in New York (12-14 October) and Amsterdam (28-30 October).

This marks the third consecutive year Intechnica has sponsored Velocity in Europe, having exhibited in London in 2013 and Barcelona in 2014, but will be the first time Intechnica have sponsored the conference in the United States. This supports the company’s recent expansion into the States following investment into its TrafficDefender web traffic management product.

As sponsors we’re happy to be able to offer a discount code for 25% off passes to each conference. Simply use the code Intechnica25 when ordering your pass to apply the discount.

Stay tuned for more information on our involvement in both New York and Amsterdam!

Performance Analysis Week 3 – Application Performance Management

This month’s topic is “Performance Analysis”, hosted by Intechnica Head of Performance Ian Molyneaux (author of “The Art of Application Performance Testing”).

For week 3 of this series, Ian is talking about APM – Application Performance Management – and the key role this tool set plays in Performance Analysis.

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Performance Analysis Week 2: Infrastructure Monitoring

This month’s topic is “Performance Analysis”, hosted by Intechnica Head of Performance Ian Molyneaux (author of “The Art of Application Performance Testing”).

It’s week 2, and Ian is looking at Infrastructure Monitoring.

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