Tag Archives: performance-testing

Performance testing with InfluxDB + Grafana + Telegraf, Part 3

This time running the test with the fixed SNMP based router monitoring and with the client-server monitoring as well. Notice in the following graphs how I learned to also put two scales on a single chart, combine line and bar charts, and add units to all the charts. OOoooo, prettyy….

First up, the number of sessions, the update frequency delays, and the connection (SSL handshake) errors from the test start:


Here the “errors” graph shows the overall number of connection errors so far in the test (the orange line) and the number of errors for each second (the green bars). The number of sessions is growing at relatively steady pace, with slight drop in rate over time. At around 16:46:45 we start getting errors at a steady rate, which is at around 1300 sessions and at the same time the tester starts seeing bigger delays.

The router CPU load goes up pretty high quite fast:


At the problem start point of 16:46:45 the router CPU load starts to go over 80% quite often. This is likely a good part of the cause, although I would expected more properties to be involved since this is still not at 100% (although looking at the router internal graph below, maybe it is at 100%, the forced 5s averaging just hides it).

Notice another interesting part on the left. The test starts from about 20% CPU load. Why is this? I speculate it is due to the other traffic over the same network. You know, “other users” streaming YouTube and playing online games, etc., while I run my tests. So this is actually the “background noise” of the system. It is also probably why in this test run I only got to around 3800 clients when I have previously gotten close to 4200 with less background noise.

Looking at the router internal CPU graph:


It is actually quite high but in peaks. With the finest granularity of 5 seconds, we are seeing much of this averaged much lower in the Grafana chart above. So maybe the CPU load on the router is actually the reason to see some of those connection errors. The minimum of 5 second averaging the SNMP agent on the router gives us is just partly hiding it.

A couple of other, slightly less relevant, but still quite interesting charts I collected during the run:


This is the “br0”, or interface number 7, from the router (that I speculate is the wireless part). That is, the amount of traffic in/out on this interface. Notice how the “out” part (the orange line) actually has a much bigger scale on the left, while the “in” part (green) has a much smaller scale on the right. At first I wondered how can this be. I would expect much more downloading (in) to happen over this interface than uploading (out).

With my tinfoil hat on I immediately thought, maybe the NSA or the chinese are downloading all my secrets and streaming video of me picking my nose 24/7 from my compewters? But then I realized this is from the router viewpoint, so “out” probably means the router is sending data to the WLAN clients and “in” means it is receiving data from them. So this would be opposite of my assumption, and “in” is actually uploads and “out” downloads. Which seems more correct and I can remove the hat for now.

Anyway, slightly interestingly the upload part starts growing at a faster rate compared to the download part when I run the test. Most likely due to the difference in scale but shows how the traffic for upload increases proportionally more. Although in absolute terms I believe the increase is the same, as it is the application server and client sending data to each other over the wireless, so it is up/download over the same channel for the same data.

Just for the kicks, the JVM memory use I collected:


Nothing special here, but notice again how having the actual correct units on the y-axis is nice.

Now to take a look at the end part of the test. The errors, update frequency delays and router CPU load:


The router CPU in the above is actually hitting 100% in a couple of spots, which is quite heavy since these CPU load measures are 5 second averages as explained before. This is why Grafana is upping the graph top boundary to 125%. I should probably have set the graph maximum upper bound in Grafana at 100% but whatever. At the end ,when the test stops creating new connections, and old ones die out, the router load also drops back to the level of the background noise.

Which we can also see in the router internal chart:


We can do from this an interesting comparison using the direct measures (the ones directly queried over from specific SNMP OIDs) vs derived ones (derived from the several raw measures):


The the scale different due to auto-scaling changing the raw chart to 125% top while the direct never goes near 100% and is thus topped at 100%. Anyway, this comparison again shows how the longer averaging period hides much of the important information. This is especially visible in the last part of the period, although the whole period is pretty obvious. And if I forgot before the “CPU busy” value (blue line in the “Router CPU raw”) metric is the sum of all the other metrics in that chart (user + system + nice + sirq). Anyway, in any case, the “direct” chart is averaged over longer term (likely over a minute as I speculated in my previous posts) and thus more information loss is evident.

The router RAM part is pretty constant and was this during all my tests. Thus I haven’t put much of it in these posts but there it is for once in the above chart as well..

Then we take the server CPU load just to see if was still low enough not to cause any of these issues:


And no problem, it never goes over 50%. Interesting spikes though.

We can also look at the whole picture at once for the whole test run. The test runs for about 10 minutes and gets up to about 3800 concurrent sessions:


and the network errors, router CPU load and update frequency delays in client and server:


Cute. Are we missing anything? Yes, we do not measure the load on the client side where the tester is running. This could also have a very significant impact. Here is an example of the top running processes at the client machine during the test:


What are these? Well, Firefox is running Grafana, which seems to really suck on the CPU when set up with complex graphs and continous refreshes over 5 second intervals. IntelliJ is the IDE I am using to run the tests. The “java” process is likely related to the same, being a part of the performance tests. Why are they showing up as two, both sucking on the CPU as a separate process at relatively high intensity? No idea (arrr..), but maybe “java” is for the actual tester and IntelliJ is where it is run from, and it needs to track the tester process, capture prints, etc. Finally, “Python” is the SNMP poller that I run to capture the router metrics.

So what do I think I should have learned from this:

  • I should architect the system to run monitoring from one node, logging database on one node, graphing UI from another node, …
  • I should track all elements of the system, not just the client and the server
  • Long averaging periods for measurements lose important information for detailed analysis of the performance tests vs functionality (e.g., reasons for network errors as sessions start piling).
  • However, I should maybe not spend excessive time building shiny monitoring systems when the potential cause has become clear. Perhaps if I have one ready as I now do..
  • I should architect my test system to become a distributed system, easily deployed on several nodes. This should allow avoiding process resource limits (e.g., threads per process), kernel limits (e.g., file descriptors), and provide more realistic loads over several distributed nodes
  • I should design in monitoring features that are useful in both production and testing

What next? Well there are a few missing parts. One is that I should monitor the tester clients as noted above. Then another not-so-obvious point is that I should synchronize the clocks of all systems as close as possible. Otherwise I can never link properties such as network errors to other metrics from other nodes. Something like NTP should be used. But is it a bit complex to deploy effectively. In fact, distributed computing in general is a bit complex so I should probably look into building a nice shiny distributed performance test framework and NTP synchronization sometime in the future..

Another interesting aspect here would be to see how much the longer averaging period makes it harder to find actual causes, in a scenario where this could be realistically controlled with other factors.

Performance testing with InfluxDB + Grafana + Telegraf, Part 2

Previously I ran my performance test in a local test environment. However, the actual server should run in the Amazon EC2 cloud on one of the free tier micro instances (yes, I am cheap but it is more of a hobby project bwaabwaa.. 🙂 ). So I installed the server on my EC2 micro instance and ran the same tests against. The test client(s) on my laptop, the server in EC2..

So what did I expect to get? Maybe a bit slower but mainly the same performance. Well, lets see..

Here is the start of the session:


Couple of things to note. I added a chart showing how many different IP addresses the sessions are coming from (middle line here). This is just one due to hitting them all from my laptop. In the production version this should be more interesting. Also, the rate at which the tester is able to create new sessions and keep them running is much bumbier and slower than when running the same tests locally. Finally, there is the fact that the tester is observing a much bigger update frequency variation.

To examine if this delay variation is due to server load or network connections, I tried turning off the tester frequency line and show only the server line:


And sure enough, on the server end there is very little variation. So the variation is due to network load/speed. Not a real problem here since most likely there would not be hundreds of clients connection over the same IP line/NAT router. However, the rate at which my simple tester and single IP approach scales up is much slower and gets slower over time:


So I run it for about 1300 clients as shown above. For a more extensive tests I should really provision some short-term EC2 micro instances and use those to load test my server instance. But lets look at the resource use for now:


So the EC2 micro instance has a maximum of 1GB memory, out of which the operating system takes its own chunk. I started the server JVM in this case without remembering to set the JVM heap limit specifically, so in this case it is set to about 256MB. However, from my previous tests this was enough for pretty much the 4000 clients I tested with so I will just go with that for now.

And how about the system resources? Lets see:


CPU load never goes above 30% so that is fine. System has memory left so I can allocate more for the JVM if I need so fine. Actually it has more than shown above as I learned looking at this that there is a bunch of cached and buffered memory that is also available although not listed as free. At least for “top”.. 🙂

But more interestingly, the “no title” chart at the bottom is now again the network usage chart that on my OSX local instance did not work. In the EC2 environment Telegraf seems to be able to capture this data. This is very useful as in EC2 usage they also charge you for your network traffic. So I need to be able to monitor it and to figure out how much network traffic I will be generating. This chart shows I have initially used much more inbound traffic (uploading my server JAR files etc). However, as the number of active clients rises to 1300+, the amount of transferred “data out” also rises quite fast and passes “data in” towards the end. This tells me if the app ever got really popular I would probably be hitting the free tier limits here. But not a real problem at this point, fortunately or unfortunately (I guess more unfortunately 🙂 ).

That is it for the EC2 experiment at this time. However, one final experiment. This time I tried in my local network with the server on one host and the tester on another. Meaning the traffic actually has to hit the router. Would that be interesting? I figured not but there was something..

It looked like this:


What is interesting here? The fact that the session rate starts to slow down already, and the frequency variation for the tester gets big fast after about 2000 active sessions. So I guess the network issue is not so much just for EC2 but for anything passing beyond localhost. Conforting that, in the sense that the connection to the much further EC2 instance does not seem to make such as big difference as I initially thought from my EC2 tests.

Finally, an interesting part to investigate in this would be to run this local network test while also using SNMP to query the router for various metrics. As I have previously also written a Python script to do that, I might try that at one point. Just because I am too curious.. But not quite now. Cheers.