-- Jörg Hoh
A few years ago when I was still working in application management of a large website we often had the case, that the system was reported to be slow. Whenever we looked into the system with our tooling we did not found anything useful, and we weren’t able to explain this slowness. We had logs which confirmed the slowness, but no apparent reason for it. Sadly the definition of performance metrics was just … well, forgotten. (I once saw the performance requirement section in the huge functional specification doc: 3 sentences vs 200 pages of other requirements.)
It was a pretty large system and rumors reported, that it was some of the biggest installations of this application. So we approached the vendor and asked how many parallel users are supported on the system. Their standard answer “30″ (btw: that’s still the number on their website, although they have rewritten the software from scratch since then) wasn’t that satisfying, because they didn’t provide any way to actually measure this value on the production system.
The situation improved then a bit, got worse again, improved, … and so on. We had some escalations in the meantime and also ran over months in task force mode to fight this and other performance problems. Until I finally got mad, because we weren’t able to actually measure the how the system was used. Then I started to define the meaning of “concurrent users” for myself: “2 users are considered concurrent users, when for each one a request is logged in the same timeframe of 15 minutes”. I wrote a small perl script, which ran through the web server logs and calculated these numbers for me. As a result I had 4 numbers of concurrent users per hour. By far not exact, but reasonable to an extent, that we had some numbers.
Read the complete post at the Things on a Content Management System.