Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Stefan Bernbo

Related Topics: IBM Cloud

IBM Cloud: Article

Caching In

Expediting content delivery with the dynamic cache service

The quest for increased application performance is a science in itself. IBM WebSphere Application Server includes a powerful caching technology called the dynamic cache service, which you can employ in your Web applications to dramatically improve performance.

In this article, we'll use the dynamic cache service to increase the performance of a simple Web application. We will then use Apache JMeter, an open source load generator, to load-test our cached application in order to measure the application performance gains achieved by leveraging the dynamic cache service.

As you will see, the potential performance gains realized by using the dynamic cache service can be achieved with minimal effort. No changes to your application code are required, which means there is no impact on application portability.

The dynamic cache service is the name given to a set of services provided by WebSphere Application Server. The types of caching services include servlet and JSP caching, a Java object cache facility, a cache for Web services, and a command cache. In this introductory article our example will focus on the use of the servlet and JSP caching facility.

Enter Stage Left - Our Application to Tweak
Our demonstration application is implemented as a servlet that fetches a large piece of content from a remote HTTP server, then performs some text processing and returns the result to the end user. Our servlet grabs content from the Gutenberg Web site, which hosts downloadable books in ASCII format (www.gutenberg.net). For those unfamiliar with the Gutenberg project, this site hosts downloadable books that have expired copyrights and are therefore freely available.

Our example servlet will perform some text processing on the downloaded book: it will italicize the introductory section in the book's text that describes the Gutenberg project. We will test the performance before and after turning on caching and then compare the results. Once caching is enabled, the book will be downloaded on the first servlet request and presented to the user. Subsequent servlet requests will be served from the cache.

The servlet code (see Listing 1) is simple and straightforward, and uses standard Java packages and classes to read, parse, and transmit the content.

The servlet opens a URL connection to a book on gutenberg.net (see Figure 1) and copies the output to the servlet's output stream. The first section of the book contains the Gutenberg preamble (disclaimers and such), which the servlet puts in italics. Once the servlet reaches the end of the preamble (marked in the text stream with "*END*" at the end of a line), the servlet stops italicizing and switches to a more readable font for books (Times). The servlet also logs how long it took to produce the result, which has the side effect of showing us when the servlet is called (versus served from the cache). This will be handy once we enable caching because the log will show that WebSphere is using the cached result and bypassing the servlet call completely.

You can download an EAR file containing the servlet and test the performance on your own system. The source code for this article can be downloaded from www.sys-con.com/websphere/sourcec.cfm.

To see the effect of using dynamic caching in our application, we'll juxtapose the performance of our application with and without caching enabled. To study our application's performance, we'll leverage Apache JMeter. It is beyond the scope of this article to delve into the details of how to use JMeter, but you can learn more about how to use JMeter at www.devx.com/webdev/Article/17950/0. JMeter allows us to simulate a load of requests against our application server and measure subsequent performance.

We used JMeter v1.9.1 from http://jakarta.apache.org/jmeter. Our test environment consisted of one machine running WebSphere Studio Advanced Edition 5.0.1 with the WebSphere v5.0 Test Environment on a Windows 2000 Pro machine configured with a single AMD 3000+ processor and 1GB of RAM. We ran JMeter on the same machine. Since this example is "I/O-bound," running JMeter on another machine does not significantly affect performance. We used WebSphere Application Server 5.0.1, but other versions will yield similar results.

We configured JMeter with a "Jakarta Users" thread group, using 5 threads and 100 iterations (see Figure 2).

Under the thread group we added an HTTP request to access our servlet. We used port 9080 to access our servlet's Web container directly (see Figure 3). Figure 4 shows the results of our baseline (precache) test.

It's not too surprising that the average servlet response time is almost 15 seconds; it takes time to process and transmit 901K of text. Because each request takes so long (by design), our throughput is a mere 18.7 requests per minute. Our next step is to enable the dynamic cache service and measure the performance improvement.

Enabling the Dynamic Cache Service in WebSphere Application Server
Enable the dynamic cache service in the WebSphere administrative console as follows: open the administrative console, click Servers > Application Servers in the navigation tree, click on your server, and select Dynamic Cache Service under Additional Properties. Select Enable service at server startup in the Startup state field and click OK.

Enable servlet caching as follows: in the administrative console, click Servers > Application Servers in the navigation tree, select your server, and click Web Container. Check the Enable servlet caching checkbox under the Configuration tab. Click Apply or OK.

To complete the configuration changes, click Save on the top menu bar, click the Save button, and then restart the application server.

Configuring Our Servlet to Use Dynamic Cache
To specify the cache settings for our servlet, we created a cachespec.xml file (see Listing 2), located in the WEB-INF subdirectory of our WAR file. Let's take some time to discuss some of the cache settings in this file.

  • sharing-policy: We set this to shared-pull, which means that the cached data will be shared across nodes in a clustered environment, and that each node will have to pull (request) the data from other nodes. The other options are not-shared, shared-push, shared-pull, and a hybrid mode called shared-push-pull. These options are described in detail in the WebSphere Application Server InfoCenter.
  • name: This is the URI of the servlet to cache; it can be relative to the Web application context root, as is ours.
  • cache-id: This section describes how WebSphere should build the unique identifiers' cache entries. The components of the cache ID serve as rules that the cache manager uses to build a key value. For servlets, there are nine types of components that you can use to build a cache ID construction rule, giving you rich control over what content in your application is cached. In our example, we used components consisting of any parameters passed in on the servlet request, the URI path, plus a header field called "host" in the request. At least one of these components must be non-empty, otherwise the dynamic cache service will simply not cache the data for that request.
  • timeout: By specifying a time-to-live value of 0, we specify that we want our cache entry to live indefinitely. Specifying a positive number would define the number of seconds we want the cache entry to exist in our cache.

    We have only scratched the surface of the configuration parameters you can set for a cacheable object. For example, you can opt to persist cache entries to disk in case of overflows or the housing server being stopped. Refer to the WebSphere Information Center (www-306.ibm.com/software/webservers/appserv/infocenter.html) to find out more information about which parameters can be used to achieve the desired caching effect you'd like to associate with a specific cacheable object. These design considerations are of course specific to your enterprise application's business requirements.

    The WebSphere Application Server continually monitors the cachspec.xml file for changes, so the changes will take place immediately when you save the file. You therefore don't need to restart your enterprise application or application server when you want to make adjustments to your caching strategy.

    The Performance Gain with the Dynamic Caching Service Enabled
    Once we saved our cachespec.xml file in the WEB-INF directory, WebSphere Application Server noticed the new file, and wrote the following line to System.out:

    [2/2/04 17:09:50:812 CST] 435b6a5a ConfigManager I DYNA0047I: Successfully loaded
    cache configuration file k:\wsad\workspace5\Dynamic Cache Example\Web
    Content\WEB-INF/cachespec.xml.

    Then we reran our JMeter test. Figure 5 shows the results.

    We started with a throughput of 18.7 transactions per minute, and with cachspec.xml in place we were able to achieve quite a bit more: 568 transactions per minute. The average time to serve a request went from 14.9 seconds down to a speedy 0.416 seconds. The dramatic improvement demonstrates the power of using WebSphere's dynamic caching service.

    Our test servlet was deliberately constructed to demonstrate a dramatic effect, but most Web applications that do any processing or back-end calls will benefit substantially from using the dynamic cache service. It's important to point out that we didn't need to make any changes to our servlet code. We simply created a cachespec.xml file in our WEB-INF directory and witnessed an immediate performance improvement.

    WebSphere Application Server 5.0 ships with a Cache Monitor application (see Figure 6) that allows you to use a Web browser to view reports on cache statistics, and also allows you do things like view the cache IDs of objects in the cache.

    The Cache Monitor is located in the <WAS_ROOT>/installableApps directory (CacheMonitor.ear) and is easy to install and use. After you have installed the Cache Monitor enterprise application, open the URL: http://<your_server>:<your_port>/cachemonitor. You can use the Reset Statistics and Clear Cache buttons to clean out the cache and get ready for another load test after you tweak the caching policy settings in your cachespec.xml file. This saves time, since you won't have to restart the application server between load tests.

    Conclusion
    Java servlets and JavaServer Pages are typically used to present dynamic content to a Web site visitor. WebSphere Application Server's dynamic cache service can be used to serve requests for content from an in-memory cache. Servlet output is stored in memory, expediting delivery to the end user.

    In this article, you used the dynamic cache service offerings on a Web application and witnessed the added performance benefits using Apache JMeter. The process of enabling WebSphere Application Server's dynamic cache service and modifying your Web application to use dynamic caching is rather simple. Leveraging these highly configurable caching options should be a major consideration for organizations trying to squeeze the most performance out of their application servers. You can learn more about the dynamic cache service in the WebSphere Information Center.

    Resource:

  • Using the dynamic cache service to improve performance: Click Here !

    Acknowledgment
    The authors would like to thank Lisa Tomita for her review of this article.

  • More Stories By Kulvir Singh Bhogal

    Kulvir Singh Bhogal works as an IBM Software Services for WebSphere consultant, devising and implementing WebSphere-centric solutions at customer sites across the nation. He has over fifty patents pending in a myriad of technology areas. He can be reached at kbhogal@us.ibm.com

    More Stories By Brad Bouldin

    Brad Bouldin works as an IBM Portal specialist assisting customers with planning, architecting, and implementing e-business solutions.

    Comments (2) View Comments

    Share your thoughts on this story.

    Add your comment
    You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

    In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


    Most Recent Comments
    Carlos Melvin 04/14/04 05:24:26 PM EDT

    I have been reading a little on dynamic cache service. I have yet to see any reference to a system other than Windows. Does this work on an AIX platform?

    Pierre Comtois 03/31/04 02:06:01 PM EST

    How would the cache work/react when using the same JSP as a template for dynamic data recovered from a DB. An application we implemented with older version of WAS involved using about 10 template JSPs and populated over 10000 different "pages" on-demand, a "page" being a template with simply different content. Each "page"''s content was retrieved by the servlet and command classes based on keys present on the URL.

    Thx ...

    @ThingsExpo Stories
    DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
    Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
    The best way to leverage your CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at CloudEXPO. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audienc...
    IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
    "Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
    More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
    DXWorldEXPO LLC, the producer of the world's most influential technology conferences and trade shows has announced the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO "Early Bird Registration" is now open. Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)
    As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
    The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
    DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
    Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
    We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...
    Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
    Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
    Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
    "MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    I think DevOps is now a rambunctious teenager - it's starting to get a mind of its own, wanting to get its own things but it still needs some adult supervision," explained Thomas Hooker, VP of marketing at CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
    Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
    Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...