Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, David Balaban, Ian Khan

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
    So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
    Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
    Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
    You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
    You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
    Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
    In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
    Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
    Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
    There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
    SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
    Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
    This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
    IoT device adoption is growing at staggering rates, and with it comes opportunity for developers to meet consumer demand for an ever more connected world. Wireless communication is the key part of the encompassing components of any IoT device. Wireless connectivity enhances the device utility at the expense of ease of use and deployment challenges. Since connectivity is fundamental for IoT device development, engineers must understand how to overcome the hurdles inherent in incorporating multipl...
    The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
    We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...