The Box: A Shortcut to finding Performance Bottlenecks by Kirk Pepperdine

Quite often performance problems will be reported with some very antidotal comments that do nothing to help you understand where to start looking. Faced with this dilemma, it is not uncommon for teams to start guessing at the root cause. Now enter “the box”, a little diagram that is an abstraction of a complete system. The box is a reminder of the true cases of performance bottlenecks. When used in concert with a rigorous investigation, it can help take the guess work out of finding bottlenecks. If you want to be consistent and predictable, getting rid of the guessing is a must.

The System Layer Cake – The box as depicted in figure 1, consists of 4 layers. These layers are labeled as People, Application, Java Virtual Machine, and Hardware. As we further explore the box we will see the major role that each of these layers plays in how our systems perform. We will also see how the box can help us organize our efforts to find our performance bottlenecks.

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