Systems Performance: Enterprise and the Cloud

Brendan Gregg

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Systems Performance: Enterprise and the Cloud

By Brendan Gregg
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Brendan Gregg
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Large-scale enterprise, cloud, and virtualised computing systems have introduced serious performance challenges. Now, internationally renowned performance expert Brendan Gregg has brought together proven methodologies, tools, and metrics for analysing and tuning even the most complex environments. Systems Performance: Enterprise and the Cloud focuses on Linux® and Unix® performance, while illuminating performance issues that are relevant to all operating systems.

You’ll gain deep insight into how systems work and perform, and learn methodologies for analysing and improving system and application performance. Gregg presents examples from bare-metal systems and virtualised cloud tenants running Linux-based Ubuntu®, Fedora®, CentOS, and the illumos-based Joyent® SmartOS™ and OmniTI OmniOS®. He systematically covers modern systems performance, including the “traditional” analysis of CPUs, memory, disks, and networks, and new areas including cloud computing and dynamic tracing. This book also helps you identify and fix the “unknown unknowns” of complex performance: bottlenecks that emerge from elements and interactions you were not aware of. The text concludes with a detailed case study, showing how a real cloud customer issue was analysed from start to finish.

Coverage includes:

  • Modern performance analysis and tuning: terminology, concepts, models, methods, and techniques
  • Dynamic tracing techniques and tools, including examples of DTrace, SystemTap, and perf
  • Kernel internals: uncovering what the OS is doing
  • Using system observability tools, interfaces, and frameworks
  • Understanding and monitoring application performance
  • Optimising CPUs: processors, cores, hardware threads, caches, interconnects, and kernel scheduling
  • Memory optimisation: virtual memory, paging, swapping, memory architectures, busses, address spaces, and allocators
  • File system I/O, including caching
  • Storage devices/controllers, disk I/O workloads, RAID, and kernel I/O
  • Network-related performance issues: protocols, sockets, interfaces, and physical connections
  • Performance implications of OS and hardware-based virtualisation, and new issues encountered with cloud computing
  • Benchmarking: getting accurate results and avoiding common mistakes

This guide is indispensable for anyone who operates enterprise or cloud environments: system, network, database, and web admins; developers; and other professionals. For students and others new to optimisation, it also provides exercises reflecting Gregg’s extensive instructional experience.


Brendan Gregg, lead performance engineer at Joyent, analyzes performance and scalability throughout the software stack. As performance lead and kernel engineer at Sun Microsystems (and later Oracle), his work included developing the ZFS L2ARC, a pioneering file system technology for improving performance using flash memory. He has invented and developed many performance tools, including some that ship with Mac OS X and Oracle® Solaris™ 11. His recent work has included performance visualizations for Linux and illumos kernel analysis. For contributions to system administration, and his work on performance analysis methodologies, he is the recipient of the USENIX 2013 LISA Award for Outstanding Achievement in System Administration.

Table of contents
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Methodology
  • Chapter 3: Operating Systems
  • Chapter 4: Observability Tools
  • Chapter 5: Applications
  • Chapter 6: CPUs
  • Chapter 7: Memory
  • Chapter 8: File Systems
  • Chapter 9: Disks
  • Chapter 10: Network
  • Chapter 11: Cloud Computing
  • Chapter 12: Benchmarking
  • Chapter 13: Case Study
  • Appendix A: USE Method: Linux
  • Appendix B: USE Method: Solaris
  • Appendix C: sar Summary
  • Appendix E: DTrace to SystemTap
  • Appendix F: Solutions to Selected Exercises
  • Appendix G: Systems Performance Who's Who