Linux Containers Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Roger Strukhoff, Yeshim Deniz, Flint Brenton

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog

@DevOpsSummit: Article

Ops, APIs and Compression | @DevOpsSummit #API #APM #DevOps

I’ve been reading up on APIs. In particular I really enjoyed reading Best Practices for Designing a Pragmatic RESTful API

I've been reading up on APIs cause, coolness. And in particular I really enjoyed reading Best Practices for Designing a Pragmatic RESTful API because it had a lot of really good information and advice.

And then I got to the part about compressing your APIs.

Before we go too far let me first say I'm not saying you shouldn't compress your API or app responses. You probably should. What I am saying is that where you compress data and when are important considerations.

That's because generally speaking no one has put their web server (which is ultimately what tends to serve up responses, whether they're APIs or objects, XML or JSON) at the edge of the Internet. You know, where it's completely vulnerable. It's usually several devices back in the networking gauntlet that has be run before data gets from the edge of your network to the server.

wrong architecture

This is because there are myriad bad actors out salivating at the prospect of a return to an early aughts data center architecture in which firewalls, DDoS protection, and other app security services were not physically and logically located upstream from the apps they protect today.

Cause if you don't have to navigate the network, it's way easier to launch an attack on an app.

Today, we employ an average of 11 different services in the network, upstream from the app, to provide security, scale, and performance-enhancing services. Like compression.

better architecture

Now, you can enable compression on the web server. It's a standard thing in HTTP and it's little more than a bit to flip in the configuration. Easy peasy performance-enhancing change, right?

Except that today that's not always true.

The primary reason compression improves performance is because when it reduces the size of data it reduces the number of packets that must be transmitted. That reduces the potential for congestion that causes a Catch-22 where TCP retransmits increase congestion that increases packet loss that increases... well, you get the picture. This is particularly true when mobile clients are connecting via cellular networks, because latency is a real issue for them and the more round trips it takes, the worse the application experience.

Suffice to say that the primary reason compression improves performance is that it reduces the amount of data needing to be transmitted which means "faster" delivery to the client. Fewer packets = less time = happier users.

That's a good thing. Except when compression gets in the way or doesn't provide any real reduction that would improve performance.

What? How can that be, you ask.

Remember that we're looking for compression to reduce the number of packets transmitted, especially when it has to traverse a higher latency, lower capacity link between the data center and the client.

It turns out that sometimes compression doesn't really help with that.

Consider the aforementioned article and its section on compressing. The author ran some tests, and concluded that compression of text-based data produces some really awesome results:

Let's look at this with a real world example. I've pulled some data from GitHub's API, which uses pretty print by default. I'll also be doing some gzip comparisons:

$ curl https://api.github.com/users/veesahni > with-whitespace.txt $ ruby -r json -e 'puts JSON JSON.parse(STDIN.read)' < with-whitespace.txt > without-whitespace.txt
$ gzip -c with-whitespace.txt > with-whitespace.txt.gz
$ gzip -c without-whitespace.txt > without-whitespace.txt.gz

The output files have the following sizes:

  • without-whitespace.txt - 1252 bytes
  • with-whitespace.txt - 1369 bytes
  • without-whitespace.txt.gz - 496 bytes
  • with-whitespace.txt.gz - 509 bytes

In this example, the whitespace increased the output size by 8.5% when gzip is not in play and 2.6% when gzip is in play. On the other hand, the act of gzipping in itself provided over 60% in bandwidth savings. Since the cost of pretty printing is relatively small, it's best to pretty print by default and ensure gzip compression is supported!

To further hammer in this point, Twitter found that there was an 80% savings (in some cases)when enabling gzip compression on their Streaming API. Stack Exchange went as far as to never return a response that's not compressed!

Wow! I mean, from a purely mathematical perspective, that's some awesome results. And the author is correct in saying it will provide bandwidth savings.

What those results won't necessarily do is improve performance because the original size of the file was already less than the MSS for a single packet. Which means compressed or not, that data takes exactly one packet to transmit. That's it. I won't bore you with the mathematics, but the speed of light and networking says one packet takes the same amount of time to transit whether it's got 496 bytes of payload or 1396 bytes of payload. The typical MSS for Ethernet packets is 1460 bytes, which means compressing something smaller than that effectively nets you nothing in terms of performance. It's like a plane. It takes as long to fly from point A to point B whether there are 14 passengers or 140. Fuel efficiency (bandwidth) is impacted, but that doesn't really change performance, just the cost.

Furthermore, compressing the payload at the web server means that web app security services upstream have to decompress if they want to do their job, which is to say scan responses for sensitive or excessive data indicative of a breach of security policies. This is a big deal, kids. 42% of respondents in our annual security strategy to prevent data leaks. Which means they have to spend extra time to decompress the data to evaluate it and then recompress it, or perhaps they can't inspect it at all.

State of Application Delivery survey always scan responses as part of their overall attack-surfaces-soad-2016

Now, that said, bandwidth savings are a good thing. It's part of any comprehensive scaling strategy to consider the impact of increasing use of an app on bandwidth. And a clogged up network can impact performance negatively so compression is a good idea. But not necessarily at the web server. This is akin to carefully considering where you enforce SSL/TLS security measures, as there are similar impacts on security services upstream from the app / web server.

That's why the right place for compression and SSL/TLS is generally upstream, in the network, after security has checked out the response and it's actually ready to be delivered to the client. That's usually the load balancing service or the ADC, where compression can not only be applied most efficiently and without interfering with security services and offsetting the potential gains by forcing extra processing upstream.

As with rate limiting APIs, it's not always a matter of whether or not you should, it's a matter of where you should.

Architecture, not algorithms, are the key to scale and performance of modern applications.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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
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...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER give you detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO also offers s...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 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 Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO" has announced that its Call for Papers is now open. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expe...