Author: Intechnica

Intechnica are a Digital Consultancy specialising in Performance, Development and Auditing services. We design, build and optimise fast websites and applications that will not fall over; not today, not tomorrow—and not on the day of your biggest sales push ever.

tools

Choosing the right APM – A fool with a tool is still a fool

I remember the days when to find someone arguing about a niche technology on the Internet, you had to use a BBS. Now everything that is published can be commented on via dozens of social networks. Links for Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and so on are present everywhere and everybody can express their thoughts. Sometimes the comments are even more interesting that the post itself.

As I’m passionate about software performance, I recently stumbled upon a post about Application Performance Management (APM) tools and their features. It was interesting because almost every person that was involved in the discussion worked for a company selling a specific tool and, of course, pushed the magnificent features of his product, sometimes playing down the competitors and making some errors in their attempts.

It was interesting because I had the chance to find out about Application Performance Management products that I didn’t know at all and I realised that the market is growing fast. There are a lot of different products, each with very specific features. So, now more than ever, it’s very hard to say that a product is better than another. In my opinion, you can’t say that one product is the best. It depends on which features are important for your specific needs.

So my mind went back at when I was an Enterprise Architect for a tier-1 telco where one of my duties was software selection. When a company like that decides to buy a product that can cost several millions of pounds, it explores the market, analyses the products, and evaluates them against a list of requirements. When a company decides to buy a tool, it must create value, satisfy specific needs, and ultimately solve problems. To make a long story short, it must implement a strategy.

What still surprises me is that the performance culture isn’t yet widespread, and often managers buy software or services that are very appealing or trendy, but aren’t actually an element of any strategy.

Web performance is a war that must be fought every day. Every day customers ask for new features and expect quicker systems. You can’t think that a tool like Application Performance Management is a magic wand that can solve all your problems forever. First comes the strategy, then the budget, and then, only then, you can look at the market to choose your tools. This is a process we often help our customers to understand.

Otherwise, you risk becoming a fool with a tool.

Cristian Vanti

This post was written by Cristian Vanti, a Solution Architect at Intechnica. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

Paolo Camera small

[Survey] Did you bet on the Grand National via a mobile device?

If you attempted to place a bet on the Grand National using a mobile or tablet device, take our 2 minute survey to let us know what your experience was like!

In terms of betting, the Grand National is huge each year. And just as online shopping is swinging towards mobile being the dominant format for consumers, the same trend is being seen year on year in mobile betting and gaming.

In fact, the number of remote bets placed via mobile rose from 54% last year to 63% this year.

Intechnica have been externally monitoring the performance of the major sports betting websites during the Grand National since 2013, and this year the focus of this activity spread to include native mobile app monitoring, thanks to assistance from Perfecto Mobile. But what we want to know is how people feel about the experience being offered by the apps and websites themselves.

Click here to take our two minute survey if you placed a bet (or tried to) for the 2015 Grand National via a mobile device or tablet. Thanks!

champagne-bucket

Performance testing is not a luxury, it’s a necessity

Recently I chanced upon a post posing the question of whether Software Testing is a luxury or a necessity. My first thought was that testing should not be a luxury; it’s much more expensive to face an issue when it arises in a live system, so if you can afford to do that, perhaps that’s the true “luxury”. However, testing is now accepted as a fundamental aspect of the software lifecycle and Test-Driven Development (TDD) stresses this aspect.

Unfortunately too often software testing is understood only as functional software testing and this is a very big limitation. Only if your software is supposed to be used by a very small number of users can you avoid caring about performance; only if your software manages completely trivial data can you avoid caring about security. Nevertheless, too often even the more advanced companies that use TDD doesn’t consider performance and penetration tests; or, at least, they do it only just at the User Acceptance Test (UAT) stage.

Working for a company that is very often requested to run performance tests for clients in the few days before the live release, we are often faced with all the problems that the development team has ignored. It’s hard when we must say “your system can’t go live with the expected workload” when the client’s marketing has already advertised the new system release.

Intechnica is stressing the performance aspect so much that we are now following the “Performance-Driven Development” approach. The performance requirements are collected together with the functional ones, addressing the design in terms of system architecture, software and hardware. Then the performance tests are run together with the unit tests during the entire software lifecycle (following the Continuous Integration practice).

I think that such an extreme approach may not be suitable for everybody, but recently I tested the performance of a new web application for a financial institution. We had already tested it 3 months earlier, but during these 3 months the development team has added new features and fixed some issues, the web interface has slightly changed, and as a result, almost all the test scripts became unusable and had to be fixed.

This tells me that the performance requirements must be considered throughout the entire development stage. They must be expressed and included in the unit tests because that is the only place where defined software contracts are used. Performance tests can be done at the UAT stage, but, just as no serious company would implement a UAT without having first functionally tested the code, so should you measure performance during the development stage. Additionally, an Application Performance Management (APM) tool is highly advisable to monitor the application and to find out the cause of performance issues rapidly in development as in the production environment.

Is testing a luxury? I’d prefer the luxury of a good dinner to the “luxury” of wasting money for an application found unfit for launch on the “go live” day.

This post was contributed by Cristian Vanti, one of our Performance Consultants here at Intechnica.

Amazon-Cloud-Computing-Logo

New case study: Nisa Retail Mobile app on Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services have recently published a new AWS Case Study, looking at how Nisa Retail have implemented an innovative mobile application to make their members’ lives easier. Nisa engaged with Intechnica to design and develop the app, which is built on AWS technology.

As an AWS Consulting Partner in the Amazon Partner Network, Intechnica was well positioned to leverage the power and flexibility of AWS to deliver a scalable solution that would not impact on Nisa’s core IT systems such as their Order Capture System (OCS).

The full case study is available to read on the AWS website.

If you need an application built with performance in mind from the outset, or specifically built around the flexibility of the AWS infrastructure, Intechnica can help. Fill in the form below or use our contact page.

Congratulations to Cristian, Dave, Andy and Kelvin

Team Intechnica wins Hack Manchester challenge with ultimate hackday companion

An Intechnica team won the AO.com challenge at this past weekend’s Hack Manchester, with their “Hack Desk” ultimate hack day companion.

Hack Manchester is part of Manchester Science Festival. Teams of up to four turn up with an idea and just 24 hours later present a working product.

Intechnica entered two teams, but in the end it was the team comprising of Andy Still, Kelvin Craig, Dave Bamber and Cristian Vanti which came out on top, bagging a prize of an iPad Mini each among other swag. Built with an asp.net MVC / C# back-end, deployed on Windows Azure and with angular.js front-end, their entry tracked the time left in the hackathon, the tasks due for each team member in Trello, each person’s BitBucket deployments, and who was due to pick up the next round of drinks. There was also SMS integration, and a command line interface right in the browser window.

Congratulations to Cristian (?!), Dave, Kelvin and Andy!

“I was pleased with the scope of features we achieved in the time frame, and the fact that everything got finished and worked as we’d hoped,” said Andy.

“The high point was winning of course,” added Kelvin, “but I was amazed by the feeling of competitiveness and collaboration at the event.”

“It was like a party atmosphere,” agreed Cristian. “Everybody was there to enjoy it. It was my first time at an event like this but I can’t wait for the next one. Plus it’s always special if you win!”

Here’s a video of the winning entry in action. Congratulations, guys!

We’re hiring! If you’re a skilled developer with experience with high performance, highly scalable applications, we want to hear from you. Check out our Careers page for more details.

We’re Hiring at Intechnica!

We’re currently looking to fill several positions here at Intechnica, both in London and at our head office in Manchester. We’re looking for people who share our innovative approach to work; people with sound problem solving skills, a passion for technology and who can take responsibility to get things done.

About the roles

We have a variety of positions currently open:

Senior Performance Consultant/Developer: an experienced developer with strong experience of performance troubleshooting and system design.

C# .Net Developer: a developer who is comfortable with developing web based systems on the .net platform, however due to the way that the division between server and client side development is blurring it is expected that the role will need a familiarity with javascript technologies and frameworks (such as Jquery and knockout.js) to be able to developer highly interactive web based applications.

Lead Automation Engineer: someone who has implemented automation tooling and process within a software development organisation.

Solution Assurance Analyst: someone who has experience in capturing complex and detailed business requirements, and testing against it to verify the software meets expectations.

Software Tester: someone who is has a proven track record in the testing arena.

Qualities we look for

  • Good communication skills – to interact with our clients and deliver a better product than they had in mind.
  • Collaborative and competent – excels in individual and team projects.
  • Innovative mindset – a keen interest in the cutting edge of technology.
  • Problem solving skills – our projects often depend on high availability systems.

Why you should work with us

We’re at the cutting edge of IT performance, bringing in the best people and using best of breed tools and technologies to help our clients (brands like Asos and Channel 4) speed up their systems, improve their processes and increase their revenues. Our projects are interesting, challenging and often high profile. High performance, high availability systems are our speciality, so if you’re looking to join us, having more than a passing interest in this is a good start.

We are based in Manchester’s popular Northern Quarter, with a highly skilled team of professionals turning the cogs. From Performance Consultants and Engineers to Developers and Testers, we offer a full range of expertise to our clients and are only seeking to hire the best talent out there.

How to apply

To apply for any of these positions, send your cover letter and CV to careers@intechnica.co.uk, stating which position you are interest in applying for. Please note that we will not be responding to any agencies.

Andy Still outlining performance in CI. Photo: @Peran

Channel 4 & Intechnica present “Performance in CI” at London Web Performance Group

Packed house at News International

Continuous Performance Testing was the hot topic at the London Web Performance Group of 20th March. Intechnica and Channel 4 were on hand to give a presentation highlighting the challenges around performance in CI to a packed room at the News International HQ.

Andy Still outlining performance in CI. Photo: @Peran

Andy Still outlining performance in CI. Photo: @Peran

In fact, it was “standing room only” as Andy Still (Intechnica co-founder and Technical Director) kicked off the presentation by providing some background on performance in modern development approaches. He also addressed the debate on whether process or tooling is more inhibiting to this approach.

This was backed up by Mark Smith (Online QA Manager, Channel 4) who provided detailed technical insights to the recent “Scrapbook” project. Intechnica provided Channel 4 with a dedicated Performance consultant to oversee the performance and testing needs of the project to great success. Mark outlined the tools and processes implemented and the results achieved.

The presentation, hosted by News International, was well received by the 100+ attendees and sparked a spirited Q&A session afterwards. Comments in reviews on the Meetup.com site described the presentation as “great, insightful” and “excellent and useful”.

The presentation can be viewed on Slideshare now.

Web Performance Groups meet regularly in London and Manchester. If you are interested in attending a Web Performance Group meetup, you can join by following these links for the London and Manchester branches.

Mark Smith describes the Scrapbook project. Photo: @mesum98

Mark Smith describes the Scrapbook project. Photo: @mesum98