Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Sematext Blog, Eric Robertson, Carmen Gonzalez, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: IBM Cloud

IBM Cloud: Article

How to Optimize WebSphere Application Server Performance

Best Practices for Harnessing Thread Pools

Organizations are increasingly using thread pools to enhance WebSphere Application Server performance by providing users with required information quickly without monopolizing resources required for other commands.

Regardless of the complexity of many J2EE applications, all that's important from the end user perspective, other than functionality, is processing time. The end user simply wants the requested HTML page to load quickly. Similarly, a business executive wants simple assurances that her organization is not losing customers due to slow Web site responses.

In the event that our response time is unacceptably slow, our competition is just a click away. As the old saying goes, "it is much easier to keep the customers you have than to get new ones." Successful Web site performance is key to a successful business and the Internet delivery channel.

The Pieces Of A Successful J2EE Application
There are many J2EE application transaction components, some of which afford us little or no control. Organizations, for example, have little control over the quality of customers' Internet connections to their Web sites or how the network path is routed in the Internet cloud. Fortunately, there are also many pieces of the Internet puzzle that organizations can manage and optimize, such as application servers, back end integration technologies, Java applications, and hardware. A successful IT "ecosystem" requires that each infrastructure component be tuned to optimize the entire IT system and support business performance. Organizations, for example, must ensure that Java application execution streams (threads) provide users with required information quickly and without monopolizing resources required for other commands.

This article will address best practices for harnessing thread pools in the application server environment, including the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) listener, Web container (application container), the Object Request Broker (ORB) container (also referred to as the Enterprise JavaBean container), and the data source connection pool. This article will also explore the notion of a thread pool funnel.

Thread Pool Overview
As users request Web site information, threads are required to process these requests. When focusing on the WebSphere Application Server (WAS) environment, applications requesting a thread are acquired from either the HTTP Listener, Web container thread pool, ORB container thread pool, or the data source connection pool. The threads contained in these pools are the actual resources that service user requests. Therefore, tuning thread pools properly will enhance WAS performance and optimize the users' experiences.

The WAS administrative console is used to tune thread pools. Each thread pool is assigned a minimum and a maximum thread pool number. When WAS is launched, it will create the number of threads identified in the minimum thread pool number parameter. As application processing occurs, the system will generate additional threads as required, up to the maximum number of threads parameter. It is critical to set the maximum number of threads for any specific queue or command properly. If the system is constantly creating and destroying threads from the pool, system thrashing will occur, wasting valuable resources. When configuring a thread pool, it is important to remember that the "more is better" rule does not apply here. Threads require a memory commitment and system resources. If the thread pool is configured to produce more threads than the system requires, valuable system resources are being denied to other resources. This type of configuration will burden the system and slow the application. Therefore, configuring thread pools accurately and harmoniously with each other is critical to optimal WebSphere performance.

Figure 1 displays an application request flow that requires back-end processing and illustrates the relationship among the thread pools as the user request is processed.

HTTP Listener
The HTTP Listener is responsible for thread creation at the HTTP server level. Most of the processing that occurs here is static page serving, or HTTP post/GET pass commands to the back end. This is the first level of thread configuration that must be considered.

Web Container
The Web container is responsible for thread pool creation at the application server level. Most of the processing at this level includes servlet, JSP, EJB, dynamic page creation, and back-end pass-through processing. The Web container is the second level of thread pool configuration that must be configured.

ORB Container The ORB container is responsible for thread pool creation at the object level. Most of the processing that occurs here includes the processing of non-Web?based clients. The ORB container is the third level of the thread pool configuration that must be configured.

Data Source
The data source level is responsible for creating the connection threads that are accessed from the database or "legacy" systems. These threads are the fourth level of configuration that must be addressed.

Thread Pool Funnel
When considering requests that are processed by the application, developers should consider Web architecture design and associated business processes. In many instances, more processing is required at the site's front-end systems than at the site's back-end systems. Because the number of requests requiring threads is greater at the front end of a Web site, the higher number of threads is required at layer one and is then reduced for each subsequent layer. This configuration produces a funnel effect in which thread requirements are reduced as the administrator configures each of the four layers. If the thread pool amounts were equal, the system could overload at each pool location, thereby saturating the entire WAS environment.

Therefore, when setting thread pool minimum and maximum parameters for specific thread pools, developers are often able to create a thread pool funnel that will produce the best results for a site. The thread pool funnel is displayed in Figure 2.

Some of the requests to a Web site only require static page returns. These requests are merely services at the HTTP listener layer, and do not require Web container, ORB container, or data source threads. These requests simply make it to the HTTP listener layer (see layer one in Figure 2), and then provide the user with the static response.

In another scenario, the application may only have to process at the Web container layer, perhaps hitting a JSP and getting returned dynamic page content. When this type of processing occurs, the user request requires threads for processing at the HTTP Listener and Web container layers. However, neither the ORB container nor data source processing is required.

The third scenario based on yet another type of inquiry, such as a non-Web Java application that would require processing. To service this request, a thread is acquired at the HTTP listener, Web container, and ORB container layers. In this case, processing at the data source layer was not required.

The final example, one which demands thread acquirement at all levels, includes a service rendered from the data source. A CICS transaction, for example, must be executed for the users' requests to be serviced via an EJB. In this final scenario, the users' requests required threads to be acquired at the HTTP Listener, Web container, ORB container, and data source layers.

It is important to note that when a flood of requests occurs in a thread pool funnel, each request will wait its turn at the appropriate queue rather than overloading all queues. The thread pool funnel provides a mechanism to minimize the potential for requests to overload the application server, significantly slowing performance or even crashing the system.

Conclusion
The thread pool funnel concept was first introduced in the Performances Analysis for Java report last year by Joines, Willenborg, and Hygh. Although the thread pool funnel is not pertinent in all J2EE application architectures, it is an effective design pattern that can increase application performance significantly. I have seen many customers who have implemented this concept reduce the end user's wait time, decrease the potential for application server saturation, and increase business productivity.

References

  • Gunther, N. (2004). How to Get Unbelievable Load Test Results. Retrieved November 10, 2003, from Performance Dynamics Company Web site: www.teamquest.com/resources/gunther/load-test.shtml
  • Joines, S., Willenborg, R., & Hygh, K. (Eds.). (2003). Performance Analysis for Java. Persons Education, Inc.
  • Willenborg, R. (2002). Monitoring Performance with WebSphere. Retrieved October 11, 2003, from the e-Pro Magazine Web site: www.e-promag.com/eparchive/ index.cfm?fuseaction=viewarticle&ContentID=1492&websiteid=
  • Zhang, Y., Liu, A., & Qu, W. (2003). Software Architecture Design of an Autonomic System. Retrieved November 10, 2003, from the University of Sydney Web Site: http://mercury.it.swin.edu.au/ctg/AWSA04/Papers/zhang.pdf
  • More Stories By Michael S. Pallos

    Michael S. Pallos, MBA, is a Senior Solution Architect for Candle Corp. and has 18 years of experience in the IT industry. Mr. Pallos is consultant to some of Candle's largest corporate customers, a featured speaker at industry conferences, and a doctorial student at Walden University, earning his Ph.D. in Applied Management and Decision Sciences - Information Systems Management. Candle, based in El Segundo, Calif., provides solutions to manage and optimize business-critical infrastructures, systems, service levels and other information technology assets. More than 3,000 of the world's largest companies use Candle products and consulting services, including 73 percent of the Global 100. Mr. Pallos can be reached at Michael_Pallos@candle.com

    Comments (0)

    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.


    @ThingsExpo Stories
    "We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
    The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
    In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
    "Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and sh...
    Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
    @GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Onalytica. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
    IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effici...
    DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
    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...
    Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
    Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
    "IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    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...
    Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
    Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
    Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
    20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
    You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...