Java Performance Survey: 3 Out of 4 Engineers Trapped in 7-Step Cycle
February 03, 2015

Ivo Magi

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It takes on average 80 hours to find and fix the root cause of a Java performance issue, according to Plumbr's first Java Performance Survey.

The survey was conducted to understand the damage and scope that Java performance issues can cause. Data was collected from 308 respondents, out of which 73% were software engineers..

Solving a Java performance issue involves a long and time-consuming process. Thanks to the survey, the workflow became very clear to me. The survey answers unfolded a 7-step process that engineers go through before solving the issue:

1. Detect the issue

2. Understand impact of the issue

3. Reproduce the issue

4. Gather evidence

5. Interpret the evidence

6. Link evidence to the root cause

7. Fix the root cause

Using this process, 284 respondents spent 22,600 man-hours in total on detecting and troubleshooting a single performance issue. According to the survey, 76% of the engineers struggle the most with: trying to reproduce, gathering evidence, making sense of the evidence, linking evidence to the root cause.

When asked what tools engineers use to find the performance issue root cause, on average an engineer applied no less than 4 different tools before managing to gather enough evidence. The sheer number of tools used in this phase definitely exceeded our expectations. A noticeable amount (10%) of respondents said they do not have a clue what caused the performance error in their system. This again confirms the fact that root cause detection is a complex domain, desperately in need for improved tooling.

Ivo Magi is Product Manager of Plumbr.

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