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Penfold (7457)

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Perl developer for Yahoo! UK, previously for MindCandy Design and - guitarist, photographer, writer.

Journal of Penfold (7457)

Wednesday May 16, 2007
02:40 AM

Performance Tests

[ #33287 ]
Every now and then, it rears its head on one or other IRC channel. Someone trots out one of a number of web sites that purports to compare like with like, hammering the crap out of various implementations of a web app in Rails, various Perl frameworks and not-frameworks, J2EE, PHP, etc etc, and attempts to draw meaningful conclusions from the results.

Setting aside, for the moment, brian d. foy's tongue-in-cheek demolition of benchmarking as a valid tool, what do we learn from these?

Actually, mostly, we learn that a single instance of almost any web app written in just about any language on semi-decent hardware, pounded on by JMeter, ab or whatever will cough up well over 100 hits/second without actually breaking into much of a sweat.

Let's stop right there for our first remedial maths class, OK?

100 hits/second.

That's 6,000 hits a minute. 360,000 hits an hour.

Eight point six million hits a day. And change.

And that's page views - c'mon, you don't serve your static images out of of your webapp framework. That's a dickens of a lot of traffic. To give you an idea,'s record month while I was there was a quarter of a billion page views... that's about 8.3 million a day on the biggest single-sport website on the net.

You're expecting that amount of traffic? Paying for the bandwidth is going to be a much bigger worry than whether your web app framework can cope.

Stick an ad on every page, from Y!, Google, whoever. A week's traffic, tops, and you can afford another server. Hell, you can afford two and a load-balancer. And quite frankly, your rate-determining step is almost certainly NOT how fast your underlying development framework can generate the pages, but how well-written your code and your DB are, how cacheable the pages are, how big they are, and how laggy your average client is. One missing database index can turn a 0.02s query into a 3s query.

Get over it, folks.

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  • Note that a site with a quarter billion page views will not typically experience a nice, convenient traffic flow of 95 sustained hits/sec. It’s more likely to be 10 hits/sec a lot of the time and 600 hits/sec at certain times (e.g. for a sports site, maybe right after important matches), averaging out to 95 hits/sec.

    Web traffic is often very bursty.

    But even that hardly affects the point in question. Most people can only dream of having scalability problems.