Performance and Scalability of Distributed Software Architectures: An SPE Approach

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Connie U. Smith
Lloyd G. Williams


Distributed systems were once the exception, constructed only rarely and with great difficulty by developers who spent significant amounts of time mastering the technology. Now, as modern software technologies have made distributed systems easier to construct, they have become the norm. Unfortunately, many distributed systems fail to meet their performance objectives when they are initially constructed. Others perform adequately with a small number of users but do not scale to support increased usage. These performance failures result in damaged customer relations, lost productivity for users, lost revenue, cost overruns due to tuning or redesign, and missed market windows.

Our experience is that most performance failures are due to a lack of consideration of performance issues early in the development process, in the architectural phase. This paper discusses assessment of the performance characteristics of distributed software architectures using the Software Performance Engineering (SPE) approach. We describe the information required to perform such assessments, particularly the information about synchronization points and types of synchronization mechanisms, and the modeling approach. The case study demonstrates how to construct performance models for distributed systems and illustrates how simple models of software architectures are sufficient for early identification of performance problems.

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