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Can You Log In Now? Good!

Can You Log In Now? Good!

A colleague of mine, who is a senior architectural specialist, recently finished a short, three-week consulting engagement with several other performance-test engineers to determine why it was taking several minutes on average for users to log in to a financial funds management system. After poking and prodding through the system, and sifting through architectural and design documents, the team determined that there wasn't any one particular performance bottleneck that was the root cause of the problem. The short of it was that the system was just doing too much - from retrieving hoards of account information from the legacy back end to setting up user session objects. No smoking gun here, the login process was running about as fast as it could. Ah, there is nothing that I can think of in this business that is so often neglected during the development process than the subject of performance. We are so often transfixed on making the darn thing work, leaving the performance issues for postmortem work - that is, something for the performance testers to figure out. Often we can get away with this thinking, and try to tune a system up after we get it functionally certified. In the case mentioned above, the problem goes a lot deeper and is not easily solved without redesign.

Designing a system so that it operates within the specified service-level agreements requires, first of all, good service-level agreements (SLAs). The SLA must spell out exactly what is expected regarding user response times and maximum concurrent users, to name a few. A good SLA also requires that someone familiar with the technology establish realistic values in this regard, so that expectations are within technical reason.

The next step requires the coordinated effort of all involved on the project, from system and data architects to each and every developer on the team - all must be conscious of performance, and the consequences of what they are doing (or not doing) in that regard.

As an example, a few years ago I worked on a Java development team with several ex-Netscape engineers who had a lot of experience in the area of performance and were highly sensitized to getting it right early in the game. I remember their initial hesitancy to develop the system using Java, primarily because of its interpretive nature and high overhead versus going with native C++. In the end, Java was chosen primarily so that it would be compatible with the remaining WebLogic J2EE architecture - but every line was scrutinized. They realized the implications of ignoring this stuff early on.

In this issue of WLDJ, we focus on performance- related issues as well as a few scalability options for the WebLogic platform. The two kind of go hand-in-hand; you can always solve performance issues by scaling up - the old throwing- hardware-at-the-problem solution. But this leaves little room for when you need to scale up for more legitimate reasons, such as increased transaction activity.

I hope that what you read in this issue will be beneficial when it comes to solving some of the real performance issues you may encounter in the field.

On another note, what comes in a handsome black metal case and provides you with everything you need to stay up-to-date as a WebLogic developer? Why, it's the BEA dev2dev subscription of course. On a quarterly basis, you will receive software updates (including a non-expiring development license), technical support, developer resources, product betas, and partner content. And the part I like best: you get a complimentary subscription to WLDJ! Basically, everything you need to stay up-to-date. For further information, go to http://dev2dev.bea.com/subscriptions.

More Stories By Joe Mitchko

Joe Mitchko is the editor-in-chief of WLDJ and a senior technical specialist for a leading consulting services company.

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