Welcome!

Big Data Journal Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Dana Gardner, Liz McMillan, Esmeralda Swartz

Related Topics: Virtualization, Java, SOA & WOA, Search, Cloud Expo, Big Data Journal, SDN Journal

Virtualization: Blog Feed Post

Bare Metal Blog: Throughput Sometimes Has Meaning

Knowing what to test is half the battle

Knowing what to test is half the battle. Knowing how it was tested the other. Knowing what that means is the third. That’s some testing, real clear numbers.

In most countries, top speed is no longer the thing that auto manufacturers want to talk about. Top speed is great if you need it, but for the vast bulk of us, we’ll never need it. Since the flow of traffic dictates that too much speed is hazardous on the vast bulk of roads, automobile manufacturers have correctly moved the conversation to other things – cup holders (did you know there is a magic number of them for female purchasers? Did you  know people actually debate not the existence of such a number, but what it is?), USB/bluetooth connectivity, backup cameras, etc. Safety and convenience features have supplanted top speed as the things to discuss.

The same is true of networking gear. While I was at Network Computing, focus was shifting from “speeds and feeds” as the industry called it, to overall performance in a real enterprise environment.  Not only was it getting increasingly difficult and expensive to push ever-larger switches until they could no longer handle the throughput, enterprise IT staff was more interested in what the capabilities of the box were than how fast it could go. Capabilities is a vague term that I used on purpose. The definition is a moving target across both time and market, with a far different set of criteria for, say, an ADC versus a WAP.

There are times, however, where you really do want to know about the straight-up throughput, even if you know it is the equivalent of a professional driver on a closed course, and your network will never see the level of performance that is claimed for the device.

There are actually several cases where you will want to know about the maximum performance of an ADC, using the tools I pay the most attention to at the moment as an example. WAN optimization is a good one. In WANOpt, the goal is to shrink the amount of data being transferred between two dedicated points to try and maximize the amount of throughput. When “maximize the amount of throughput” is in the description, speeds and feeds matter. WANOpt is a pretty interesting example too, because there’s more than just “how much data did I send over the wire in that fifteen minute window”. It’s more complex than that (isn’t it always?). The best testing I’ve seen for WANOpt starts with “how many bytes were sent by the originating machine”, then measures that the same number of bytes were received by the WANOpt device, then measures how much is going out the Internet port of the WANOpt device – to measure compression levels and bandwidth usage – then measures the number of bytes the receiving machine at the remote location receives to make sure it matches the originating machine. So even though I say “speeds and feeds matter”, there is a caveat. You want to measure latency introduced with compression and dedupe, and possibly with encryption since WANOpt is almost always over the public Internet these days, throughput, and bandwidth usage. All technically “speeds and feeds” numbers, but taken together giving you an overall picture of what good the WANOpt device is doing. There are scenarios where the “good” is astounding. I’ve seen the numbers that range as high as 95x the performance. If you’re sending a ton of data over WANOpt connections, even 4x or 5x is a huge savings in connection upgrades, anything higher than that is astounding.

This is an (older) diagram of WAN Optimization I’ve marked up to show where the testing took place, because sometimes a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. And yeah, I used F5 gear for the example image… That really should not surprise you Smile.

So basically, you count the bytes the server sends, the bytes the WANOpt device sends (which will be less for 99.99% of loads if compression and de-dupe are used), and the total number of bytes received by the target server. Then you know what percentage improvement you got out of the WANOpt device (by comparing server out bytes to WANOpt out bytes), that the WANOpt devices functioned as expected (server received bytes == server sent bytes), and what the overall throughput improvement was (server received bytes/time to transfer).

There are other scenarios where simple speeds and feeds matter, but less of them than their used to be, and the trend is continuing. When a device designed to improve application traffic is introduced, there are certainly few. The ability to handle a gazillion connections per second I’ve mentioned before is a good guardian against DDoS attacks, but what those connections can do is a different question. Lots of devices in many networking market spaces show little or even no latency introduction on their glossy sales hand-outs, but make those devices do the job they’re purchased for and see what the latency numbers look like. It can be ugly, or you could be pleasantly surprised, but you need to know. Because you’re not going to use it in a pristine lab with perfect conditions, you’re going to slap it into a network where all sorts of things are happening and it is expected to carry its load.

So again, I’ll wrap with acknowledgement that you all are smart puppies and know where speeds and feeds matter, make sure you have realistic performance numbers for those cases too.

The Whole Bare Metal Blog series:

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Don MacVittie

Don MacVittie is Founder of Ingrained Technology, LLC, specializing in Development, Devops, and Cloud Strategy. Previously, he was a Technical Marketing Manager at F5 Networks. As an industry veteran, MacVittie has extensive programming experience along with project management, IT management, and systems/network administration expertise.

Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was a Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing, where he conducted product research and evaluated storage and server systems, as well as development and outsourcing solutions. He has authored numerous articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

Latest Stories from Big Data Journal
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices – computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be!...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
The Open Group and BriefingsDirect recently assembled a distinguished panel at The Open Group Boston Conference 2014 to explore the practical implications and limits of the Internet of Things. This so-called Internet of Things means more data, more cloud connectivity and management, and an additional tier of “things” that are going to be part of the mobile edge -- and extending that mobile edge ever deeper into even our own bodies. Yet the Internet of Things is more than the “things” – it me...
The emergence of cloud computing and Big Data warrants a greater role for the PMO to successfully manage enterprise transformation driven by these powerful trends. As the adoption of cloud-based services continues to grow, a governance model is needed to orchestrate enterprise cloud implementations and harness the power of Big Data analytics. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Mahesh Singh, President of BigData, Inc., to discuss how the Enterprise PMO takes center stage not only in developing th...
Having just joined a large technology company with 20 years of history, it would be suicidal to believe that I can immediately move the entire organization to the DevOps mindset and model. For those not familiar with the term, “Eventual Consistency” is a model used in distributed computing to ensure high availability. In this context, it’s a model for replicating best practices and automation across IT teams and business units. The logical place to start with automation is the on-boarding of a ...
General Electric (GE) has been a household name for more than a century, thanks in large part to its role in making households easier to run. Starting with the light bulb invented by its founder, Thomas Edison, GE has been selling devices (“things”) to consumers throughout its 122-year history. Last week, GE announced that it is officially leaving that job to others. While the lighting division will stay, GE will now turn its attention to selling industrial machinery and analytics as a service t...
Come learn about what you need to consider when moving your data to the cloud. In her session at 15th Cloud Expo, Skyla Loomis, a Program Director of Cloudant Development at Cloudant, will discuss the security, performance, and operational implications of keeping your data on premise, moving it to the cloud, or taking a hybrid approach. She will use real customer examples to illustrate the tradeoffs, key decision points, and how to be successful with a cloud or hybrid cloud solution.
For the last hundred years, the desk phone has been a staple of every business. The landline has been a lifeline to customers and colleagues as the primary means of communication – even as email threatened to render the telephone obsolete. For some purposes, like conference calling, there was simply no substitute. That is, until a few years ago. With all due respect and apologies to Mr. Alexander Graham Bell, the desk phone is becoming just one solution, out of many devices, used for the modern...
Software is eating the world. Companies that were not previously in the technology space now find themselves competing with Google and Amazon on speed of innovation. As the innovation cycle accelerates, companies must embrace rapid and constant change to both applications and their infrastructure, and find a way to deliver speed and agility of development without sacrificing reliability or efficiency of operations. In her keynote DevOps Summit, Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Qubell, will discuss ho...
In today's application economy, enterprise organizations realize that it's their applications that are the heart and soul of their business. If their application users have a bad experience, their revenue and reputation are at stake. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anand Akela, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Application Performance Management at CA Technologies, will discuss how a user-centric Application Performance Management solution can help inspire your users with every appli...