Beyond Averages

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When raw data becomes overwhelming, we turn to abstraction to understand our world. In our systems, the data is always overwhelming. Solutions like summary statistics have come to our rescue, and they …

When raw data becomes overwhelming, we turn to abstraction to understand our world. In our systems, the data is always overwhelming. Solutions like summary statistics have come to our rescue, and they are good—up to a point. In order to truly understand our systems, we need to know when and how to sidestep those abstractions,to get deep, detailed performance insight. In this brief diatribe inspired by John Rauser’s 2011 Velocity keynote “Look at Your Data”, I’ll explore techniques for visualizing the underlying structure of performance data and how this empowers drilling down to populations and individual samples in the data set.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InyHBnd_chw

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  • 1. BEYOND AVERAGES Dan Kuebrich / appneta.com
  • 2. A few of my favorite abstractions • Abstraction lets us trade information for actionability • That’s a great trade! • • ... right? Min, max, average, quantiles, stdev
  • 3. Averages: average at best
  • 4. Averages: average at best
  • 5. Averages: average at best
  • 6. Averages: average at best
  • 7. Percentiles: 1 of 100 slices 95%
  • 8. Percentiles: 2 of 100 slices 95% 10%
  • 9. Percentiles: 2 of 100 slices 95% 10%
  • 10. Percentiles: 2 of 100 slices 95% 10%
  • 11. Percentiles: 2 of 100 slices 95% 10%
  • 12. Computers are hard • Rarely do we have a single normal distribution underlying the data • Different users, different requests, different resources, different instances, different times
  • 13. Is there a place between Averageland and “A Beautiful Mind”? http://now-here-this.timeout.com/2012/10/07/crazy-walls-of-clues-from-tv-film-reviewed-by-carrie-from-homeland/
  • 14. (eg. # of calls) Frequency Histograms Value (eg. latency)
  • 15. Populations revisited 95% 10%
  • 16. (eg. # of calls) Frequency Histograms Value (eg. latency)
  • 17. Populations re-revisited 95% ? 10%
  • 18. (eg. # of calls) Frequency 3d Histograms? Value (eg. latency)
  • 19. (eg. # of calls) Frequency 3d Histograms? Time Value (eg. latency)
  • 20. (eg. # of calls) Frequency Heatmaps Value (eg. latency)
  • 21. (eg. # of calls) Frequency Heatmaps Value (eg. latency)
  • 22. (eg. # of calls) Frequency Heatmaps Value (eg. latency)
  • 23. (eg. latency) Value Heatmaps Time
  • 24. OK, but what about the real world? http://www.justincarmony.com/blog/2012/06/05/customizing-graphite-charts-for-clearer-results/
  • 25. Mystery #1
  • 26. Mystery #1
  • 27. Mystery #1
  • 28. Mystery #1
  • 29. Mystery #1
  • 30. Mystery #2
  • 31. Mystery #2 bottom 98%
  • 32. Mystery #2 all of it
  • 33. Mystery #3
  • 34. Mystery #3: UNSOLVED
  • 35. Thanks! Dan Kuebrich dan@appneta.com @dankosaur