Category Archives: Web Performance

64% Chrome Browser Share! Are They Chrome Hipsters?

Ok, I’m a big fan of Chrome, and I’ve pretty much replaced Firefox on all my machines with it, but I’m still having a hard time believing the numbers in New Relic’s infographic. New Relic says this data is aggregated from over 3 million application instances.

The breakdown shows:

  • Chrome 64.3%
  • Firefox 16.3%
  • IE 14.8%
  • Safari 4.2%
  • Other 0.4%

May I correct what I said before? I’m absolutely sure New Relic can correctly aggregate data like this from their massive collection. It’s just that I’m having a hard time believing these numbers represent the mainstream. I still know too many people who are using Windows on the desktop and are happy with the latest IE browsing experiences. And although I’m still a considerable Mac fan, the newest household addition is a Surface Pro, and IE provides a better user experience right now even with the latest Chrome beta version.

If this number is true for IE, it would spell almost certain doom for Microsoft. Maybe they are not King Kong of the client operating system world anymore but this information is just for Desktop and Laptop computers. I know a few people who really like their Windows phones and after some use I think there is a fair amount to like about Windows 8.1 (of course I did have to install a 3rd party start button ;) In fact, I find myself swiping the screen on the Macbook Pro sometimes lately. But if it is doom for Microsoft should I return my Surface Pro before the 30-days are up?

One reasonable explanation might be that New Relic targets a certain developer / startup type of user and maybe their applications are a little more targeted at – dare I say – Chrome Hipsters :)

Just ranting a bit.

Ken

Namebench – a tool for speeding up the DNS part of your browsing experiences

All of the free tools so far have focused on measuring and optimizing the Web and Mobile user experiences – availability and performance – your sites are delivering to desktop and mobile visitors, until now. Let’s take a break from that and do something for ourselves.

Namebench is an open source DNS benchmark utility. It’s a tool for selecting the DNS servers that will give the best performance for your location. DNS is that magic piece of the internet infrastructure that let’s us humans remember Yahoo.com rather than the IP addresses (kinda like phone #s). It’s like the Yellow Pages for all of the addresses on the internet.  And DNS plays a role in evaluating which servers every resource on a web page should be fetched from.

Using the recommended settings from Namebench can significantly improve the browsing experience. A faster Web is a happier Web! If you are an administrator then you already understand how this could make for a better general experience for everyone in the office if your results look like mine. If you’re just a renegade desktop user, you could run a quick test and adjust your own personal settings.

After installing Namebench, start the application. It should detect good defaults. Mine look like this from an AT&T Uverse connection.

dns_performance_testing_site_screen

I just clicked “start” to begin the test. It did run for several minutes on this old core 2 duo. After running through it’s paces, Namebench estimates that the default DNS settings can be improved by over 70%. Wow! (I’d like to do a little before and after testing using @sitespeedio at some point but I’ll have to re-install it now that I put the new M500 ssd in the old Mac.)

dns_performance_benchmark

Looking deeper into the comparison report we are presented with a stack ranking of each of the DNS servers tested by mean and fastest response.

dns_performance_graphs

A detailed response time distribution is also reported.

response_time_distribution_chart

Now go speed up the Web for you and some co-workers!

Ken

Uptimerobot – An accurate, easy to use, and free website monitoring service

I am on a quest to share the best free tools and services to help maximize availability, performance and user experience for your critical customer facing applications. Uptimerobot is a nice looking, easy-to-use, basic website monitoring service. Even better, like all of the tools I’ve been sharing over the last few weeks, it’s FREE!

And these guys don’t skimp.
You get 50 – that’s right I said 50 – individual monitors that can run as often as every 5-minutes.

They offer a reasonably handsome dashboard to view summary statistics for all of your website monitors. The web monitors support HTTP, HTTPS, ping, port checking and keyword monitoring. I think they need to merge the keyword monitoring into the HTTP monitoring but that’s such a minor quibble.

uptime_robot_dashboard

Here’s a quick example of the availability and performance data for the web monitor pointed at APMexaminer.com. Right now, I think you can only view this performance data for the last 24-hours.

uptime_robot_monitor_performance_uptime

I’ve only had one outage on my Website so far.  For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to turn on fastCGI on my Web server. WordPress or mySQL wasn’t happy and the site crashed the next night and was down for almost 3 hours. Uptimerobot sent accurate and reliable notifications, albeit sparse of diagnostic info, indicating when my Website was down. After @dreamhost support helped me resurrect it along with some advice for turning of the fastCGI option I promptly received notification the Website was back up and the duration of the downtime.

Uptimerobot doesn’t have a lot of advanced features like configuring web performance or transaction monitoring using real web browsers or collecting real-user monitoring statistics for every using site visitor, or even the ability to select which geographic locations perform monitoring.

In my considerable experience, a lot of people are just looking for good basic website monitoring services that provide reliable notification when their Website is unavailable, and allow you to see a little bit of basic HTTP performance data, and that is something that Uptimerobot does very decently.

Thanks for bringing something excellent to the community.

At this point in our journey together, please don’t tell me YOU don’t have basic Website monitoring in place.

Ken

Gartner’s Application Performance Mangement leaderboard likely to keep changing in 2014

Every year Gartner publishes the Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Application Performance Management (APM). It is one of the most comprehensive reports covering APM vendors that can address all 5 of the dimensions Gartner has defined. There are many other tools and solutions that focus on specific areas, often more effectively than those in the research, but the list includes only those who provide a complete solution. Magic Quadrants are an info-graphic that displays who the competing players in a major technology market broken down into leaders, visionaries, niche players and challengers.

What’s so interesting is are the changes from 2012 to 2013, and maybe, how things are likely to shift again.

The APM marketplace is very dynamic! Two factors are making it so dynamic. The first, of course, is that digital experiences have become much more significant to our business strategies driven by Cloud, Mobile and Social. The second, a more traditional story, is that the pace of innovation in application performance management is so breakneck that many of the traditional leaders have lost their footing to newer more agile startups.

Let’s focus on the top right quadrant, the leaders quadrant. The 2013 research lists just 4 technology players on the leaderboard. They are Compuware, courtesy of their Gomez and Dynatrace acquisitions; Riversoft, courtesy of it’s OpNet acquisition; and two recently started APM innovators AppDynamics and New Relic. Two of the entrants are jazzy new startups hatched from the brain trust at Wiley Technologies (acquired by CA) – New Relic and AppDyamics. The other two have invested $600M and around $1B in acquisitions to grow into the leaders quadrant.

This is a significant change from the 2012 Magic Quadrant which listed IBM, CA, Quest (now Dell), and BMC in the leaders quadrant as well as the products from 2013. If we add HP and Microsoft to the list, not a single one of the BIG systems management players – HP, IBM, CA, BMC, MS or Dell for that matter – have innovated enough to be a leader. You now what that means :)

There has already been a significant amount of reporting about how New Relic is readying themselves for a likely 2014 IPO and the same can be said for AppDynamics.

Compuware’s business has been under fire for sometime while they try to transform themselves to more relevant businesses. Even Riversoft had recent rumors of a private equity bid of over $3B.

How long will 6 ginormous systems management vendors be without leading products in the hottest part of the IT Ops marketplace?

I’m guessing while we may have many of the same products in the 2014 leaders quadrant at least a couple will be operating as a part of IBM, HP, CA, BMC, Microsoft or Dell.

In fact, getting acquired again by CA might help New Relic’s CEO, Lew Cirne, out of his patent disputes over former Wiley patents.

Ken

Related links:
What is a Gartner Magic Quadrant

See the 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Management from AppDynamics and register for a copy (scroll down below the form to see)

A glimpse of the 2012 Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Management

Use sitespeed.io to Analyze your Website Performance and Optimization

Sitespeed.io is a really wonderful open source tool that automatically provides a rich set of information about Web site performance and how well Web pages are optimized versus best practices. Sitespeed.io can crawl all of the pages on Web site or just the Web pages you wish. It’s a little more complicated than some of the other free tools (link) I have been sharing. Let’s call this a pro-sumer tool rather than a consumer tool. But really, if you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves just a little – it’s very worth it.

Sitespeed.io can also crawl multiple sites allowing you to compare yourself to your key competitors. Differences in how fast your Web site feels of just a quarter or half second can have dramatic affects on conversion and retention meaning this stuff is important to the business!

Let’s take a look at what you get before providing a couple of helpful tips to help you get it running for yourself.

You get a reasonably comprehensive set of reports starting with a scorecard-like summary that provides a high-level scorecard about presenting key Web site optimization and performance metrics.

ss_web_optimization_scorecard

The detailed summary page statistically analyzes all of the optimization, content, and performance metrics.

ss_detail_web_optimization_scores

What really caught my eye were the rich Web performance and user experience data provided that are available in the latest web browsers (Chrome 30+ and IE 11) courtesy of the w3c timings API. If you are a web performance geek like me this should make you say wow!

ss_web_performance_metrics

An analysis of each individual page is provided too.

ss_Web_page_optimization_performance

There are many ways this tool can be used to help you improve site quality and performance. As part of the QA process sitespeed would be an excellent part of the tool-chain for verification that changes haven’t negatively affected optimization scores or created performance issues. Marketing should be using this tool to benchmark key site functions against core competitors to improve conversion and loyalty. The web operations team can use this as a very capable monitoring function. And for those of you out there actually doing Continuous Integration (CI), these metrics should be automatically gathered and analyzed at every build.

Sitespeed.io is really the glue and HTML report output that is consolidated from some other really great open source tools such as Yahoo’s Yslow, phantom.js, and browsertime.  These are command-line tools so you’ll need to be comfortable at a terminal screen. I configured this on a 5 year old Macbook Pro that had a fresh install of OS X Mavericks.

First you will need to install Xcode, developer tools, and homebrew. This guide was very helpful.

Before continuing you’ll want to install the latest Java from www.java.com.

Now you’re ready to follow the straightforward documentation from sitespeed.io to install and use.

If you are involved with web performance, website optimization or user experience and you’re comfortable at a terminal prompt you really should give this one a whirl.

Ken

Related links:

Free tools
xcode on appstore
sitespeed.io
homebrew for Mac
browsertime
w3c timings reference