In Part 1 of this 4 part blog I hit upon 3 Anti-Patterns that can make one's performance testing a poor representation of reality. Here I'm covering 3 more and will be following up with the last 4 in a few days. After that I'm going to talk about a simple distributed performance testing framework I'm going to give away to try and help people be more successful with this stuff.
Anti-pattern 4: Fake Data Fake Performance
Using data in a distributed performance test that looks nothing like your real data.
Distributed computing solutions use all kinds of strategies to move data between nodes under the covers. Just representing a size of data to be shared ignores those strategies and in many cases misrepresents the performance of a real system with real data under real load, both positively and negatively. You may be testing specially optimized flattening tricks that make the system look faster than it is; likewise, you may be testing a particular case that doesn’t perform well, but that isn’t representative of the true performance of the system with real data.
Make sure you test with object graphs that vary in size, type, and depth in similar ways to the data you plan to use in your application. Don't assume Maps of Strings will behave anything like the way real object data will behave.
Anti-pattern 5: Incoherent Cluster
Some clustering products are coherent, some are not, and some have both modes. Don't ignore whether you are testing the performance using the mode you really need for your application.
While it is quite possible to have a coherent cluster that has the same throughput as an incoherent cluster, it is certainly harder to do. Coherently clustered software frameworks require the provider to do some fancy locking, batching, windowing, and coherent lazy-loading tricks that aren't for the faint of heart (in the internals of the clustering engine, that is, not for the application developer). You can't assume that performance between a coherent and incoherent clustering approach will be the same.
Make sure that if what you need is coherently clustered data that you are actually testing that way. Also, if it’s coherence you’re after, it’s a good idea to verify the end-state of a performance test to make sure the system actually is coherent. Sort of post test verify phase.
Anti-pattern 6: The World by a Thread
Distributed tests that only use one thread per node.
For most clustered software, the name of the game is throughput with acceptable latency. Pretty much all distributed computing software does batching and windowing to improve throughput in a multi-threaded environment. Maxing out a single thread will usually not even approach the max throughput of the JVM or the system as a whole in the same way that a single node will not.
Make sure your test uses multiple threads for generating load in each JVM. Check to see if you are cpu bound on any node. If you are not cpu bound you might have a concurrency issue or just need to add more threads.
I have 4 more anti-patterns that I'm going to publish next week. Keeping an eye on the full 10 will help greatly reduce mistakes in clustering and distributed computing. Once again I'll then be following up with a framework to help develop and run useful tests.