Author Archives: carinhas

CMG 2006 Reno

CMG 2006 in Reno was a huge success. Phil and Dom each presented a paper. Meeting with some of the brightest people in the performance and capacity planning area not only helps us to augment our own network, but also gives us new ideas on how to get customers better focused on the importance of having a sound design for any IT project that they may be involved with.

UNIX Internals & Performance Management Class (3 days)

Fortuitous still has a few slots open for their UNIX Internals & Performance Management Class’s in August, September and October 2006.The course outline for the class can be found at: http://fortuitous.com/en/services/training/unix/internals.html. The price per student is $2,250. The class’s will be held in Austin, TX.

Class 803: Aug 21th – Aug 23th (2 spots)
Class 903: Sep 25th – Sep 27th (1 spot)
Class 1003: Oct 23th – Oct 25th (3 spots)

Fortuitous can tailor the class towards AIX, Solaris, HP-UX, or Linux. If no preferences are given by the students, the class will be focused on AIX 5.3 and Linux 2.6. Fortuitous teaches all their classes either in Austin, TX, or at the customer site. For further information on any of our classes or to sign up, please either call us at 512-351-7783.
The Fortuitous Team

Dominique A. Heger Ph.D.
Performance Engineering
http://fortuitous.com/

Hardware Sizing and OS Tuning Services

Fortuitous Technologies today announced new sizing and tuning services for Linux and UniX servers. Both services are low cost alternatives that cater to the burgeoning Linux server marketplace. The sizing services provide cpu, memory,IO, and network interconnect recommendations in raw performance units.

The Tuning services provides kernel recommendations for Linux and other commercial Unix variants. The services provides kernel tuning parameters for range of operating systems and applications like MySQL, PostgreSQL,Apache, Asterisk, and Oracle.

With these new services, Fortuitous can now provide a broad range of performance, consulting, and design services for Linux, Unix, FreeBSD, and related technologies. The new tuning and sizing services add entry level capabilities for open source solutions such as Linux, Apache, MySQL, PostgreSQL,PHP, Postfix, and Asterisk.

Both services will start at $499 initially. Fortuitous anticipates similar service announcements for small cluster and load-balanced systems.More information can be found at http://Fortuitous.com.

Cost Recovery by Design

Dominique Heger & Philip Carinhas, Fortuitous Technologies Inc

Summary: Costs of performance and capacity planning are often recovered many fold and fast.

Intro

Often seen as an extra expense, performance and capacity planning often saves a project more money in the long run. Costs are usually recovered by the completion of the initial implementation phase if not sooner. Moreover, projects that are properly planned will achieve design goals and allow future scalability at a significantly lower total cost.

Performance Planning Issues

In today’s parallel, heterogeneous, and interconnected IT wilderness, predicting and controlling cost factors surrounding systems performance and capacity planning is overwhelming at best. For larger IT projects, it is not uncommon to find situations where the cost factors for performance tuning and capacity problems reflect the largest and the least controlled expenses. To illustrate, a sudden slowdown of an enterprise wide application may trigger user complaints, delayed projects, an IT support backlog, and ultimately a financial loss to the organization. By the time the performance problem is located, analyzed, worked around, tested, and verified, an organization may have spent tens of thousands of dollars in time, IT resources, and hardware, only to fall back into the same vicious cycle the very next year.

The Crux

When performance is designed into the final solution, costs can be contained and reduced while ensuring required performance with scalability potential. This approach shifts the emphasis away from the installation and setup phase to the planning and design stages. It is paramount that IT not only understand the expected workload behavior, but responsibly act by conducting feasibility and design studies prior to spending many thousand of dollars on a solution that in a best case scenario, may not be optimal, and in a worst case scenario, completely fails.

Hidden Costs of Poor Planning

  • Unneeded Hardware
    Application performance issues have an immediate impact on customer satisfaction and an organization’s bottom line. It is not uncommon that while a performance issue surfaces, organizations start adding more (often expensive) hardware into the operation mix, without fully understanding where the problem truly lies nor understanding how the extra hardware will affect overall system performance. Hence, working on the symptoms and not the underlying cause may provide an organization with some relieve in the short run, but intensifies the issues in the long run, as even more hardware has to be troubleshot and analyzed. In addition, there are these costs associated with redundant hardware:

    • Electricity
    • Extra Cooling (several times the electricity costs)
    • Extra IT Overhead (See Below)
    • Hardware Replacement Costs (drives, fans, psu, et al)
  • IT Overhead
    In addition to hardware costs, the IT personnel costs associated with unplanned performance tuning exercises can be excruciating. IT managers may be forced to commit hundreds of man-hours to solve even simpler performance problems. As in some circumstances, the actual source of the problem may not be easily identified, IT personnel may spend hours or days analyzing and tuning the wrong subsystem. To make matters worse, some performance tuning exercises may require crossing over into the domains of security, reliability, or availability. Proper design and planning can reduce these costs.
  • Security and HA
    Without initial proper planning, fire-fighting scenarios such as these may result into additional work for an organization’s security or high-availability (HA) personnel as well. Proper design and planning can significantly reduce these costs as well.
  • Lost Revenue
    Without proper planning, projects run the risk of partial or total failure which can drive away associated revenue. There is no excuse for a project to fail from a lack of adequate planning and design. Even if the system is not designed for direct revenue stream, it can cause loss for internal customers and related systems.

An Illustration

As an example of the shortcomings of zealous use of hardware lets consider CompanyX, whose 10 node cluster would not perform well under stress. The managers authorized IT to buy 5 more servers to increase performance, which resulted in no noticeable performance gain. When the system was finally examined, a simple model immediately showed that the memory and IO subsystem were bottlenecked, and the optimal number of compute nodes was about 10.

Summary

In short, the proper approach to managing systems performance is to design performance into the solution. If the system is already in production, the recommendation is to conduct a performance study that covers application, operating system, and hardware subsystems, respectively. It is paramount to understand not only the actual workload behavior, but also the interaction between the application, the OS, and the hardware. Treating performance related issues early on in an IT project avoids hidden cost scenarios, and is exponentially cheaper than performing extraneous tuning after deployment.

About Fortuitous

Fortuitous Technologies offers vendor neutral design, feasibility, performance tuning, and capacity planning services for application, database, hardware, and operating systems. They can be found at http://fortuitous.com