Elisabeth Stahl on Benchmarking and IT Optimization

Archive for the ‘Amazon’ Category

The Old College Try

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Today is a very big day for many high school seniors. At midnight tonight, early deadline college applications are due. And yesterday, the web portal used by more than a million students a year to submit these applications started having performance and availability issues and then shut down.

Needless to say, for many of these students Halloween was super scary in a real world sort of way. There’s already so much stress involved in applying to college and something like this impacts students, parents, high school professionals, colleges, and numerous others worldwide. And in my opinion, this didn’t have to happen.

I talk with many organizations about something called Best Execution Venue or Fit for Purpose. The concept is basically that you should choose the best technology for your workload based on local factors like non-functional requirements (such as performance and availability), architecture, skills, security and even politics. The best technology might be a mainframe. It might be an OpenPOWER system. It might be a public cloud. Or some architecture involving all of the above.

In this case, the college application site said that the portal ran into trouble because of “unusually large and intermittent spikes in system activity.” What a surprise. The use of this college application tool has been growing fast over the years and it is surely obvious that there would be a peak at this time. We have peaks in retail before the holidays. We have peaks in sporting events as they go live. And we have peaks in college applications right before the deadline.

It turns out that this site uses a public cloud (AWS). For the purpose of handling these peaks. Maybe this isn’t the best venue for performance and availability at this critical time.

One frustrated student tweeted “Does AMAZON Shut Down Hours Before Christmas? Does it Crash?” Ironically, he probably didn’t realize that he really was talking about Amazon.


The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.

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Written by benchmarkingblog

November 1, 2017 at 11:02 am

Posted in Amazon

Amazon, Don’t Be A Performance Amateur

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I read just this morning that La Guardia airport in New York, with its dilapidated terminals and long delays, will be at long last rebuilt by 2021.

The plans look promising and work has already started. With new taxiways, a train and a grand entryway, it will finally be something to be proud of. Major infrastructure certainly needed for one of the major big league cities in the world.

And to play in the big league, you need to have the right plans to study and analyze, and you need to know what you are talking about. Which is why I was so disappointed this morning to also read about some new performance claims from Amazon Web Services (AWS).

In an announcement of a new relational database offering, Amazon made claims that simply had me confused. Let’s take a look:

  • The claims mix up performance with price performance. Obviously this difference is pretty basic. And important — but especially important in this environment where AWS charges extra for database instances, storage, and I/O.
  • The claims mix up speed and throughput. This difference can be very important because in this environment there are only 3 AWS regions right now offering these services and network performance can be key.
  • The claims mix up general comparisons with other “existing solutions” with a comparison using one particular tool, SysBench, to one particular release of one particular database, MySQL 5.6.
  • The claims mix up whether any improvement is due to software or hardware while stating that special techniques were used on both. Need I say more.

To play in the big league majors you have the understand the complexities of the subject. By attempting to address performance of this new offering, AWS is clearly exhibiting minor stripes.

Have you ever been at that gate at La Guardia, I think it’s A1A, where you have to carry your suitcase down two flights of stairs to a small waiting room with no air?


The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.

Amazon Web Services and the “Powered by Amazon Web Services” logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates in the United States and/or other countries.

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Written by benchmarkingblog

July 28, 2015 at 11:41 am

Posted in Amazon, Cloud

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