The 5 Most Common Application Bottlenecks
March 30, 2017

Sven Hammar

Share this

Application bottlenecks can lead an otherwise functional computer or server to slow down to a crawl. The term "bottleneck" refers to both an overloaded network and the state of a computing device in which one component is unable to keep pace with the rest of the system, thus slowing overall performance.
Addressing bottleneck issues usually results in returning the system to operable performance levels; however, fixing bottleneck issues requires first identifying the underperforming component. These five bottleneck causes are among the most common:

1. CPU Utilization

According to Microsoft, "processor bottlenecks occur when the processor is so busy that it cannot respond to requests for time." Simply put, the central processing unit (CPU) is overloaded and unable to perform tasks in a timely manner.
CPU bottleneck shows up in two forms: a processor running at over 80 percent capacity for an extended period of time, and an overly long processor queue. CPU utilization bottlenecks often stem from insufficient system memory and continual interruption from input/output devices. Resolving these issues involves increasing CPU power, adding more random access memory (RAM), and improving software coding efficiency.

2. Memory Utilization

A memory bottleneck implies that the system does not have sufficient or fast enough RAM. This situation cuts the speed at which the RAM can serve information to the CPU, which slows overall operations. In cases where the system doesn’t have enough memory, the computer will start offloading storage to a significantly slower hard disc drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD) to keep things running. Alternatively, if the RAM cannot serve data to the CPU fast enough, the device will experience both slowdown and low CPU usage rates.
Resolving the issue typically involves installing higher capacity and/or faster RAM. In cases where the existing RAM is too slow, it needs to be replaced, whereas capacity bottlenecks can be dealt with simply by adding more memory. In other cases, the problem may stem from a programming error called a "memory leak," which means a program is not releasing memory for system use again when done using it. Resolving this issue requires a program fix.

3. Network Utilization

Network bottlenecks occur when the communication between two devices lacks the necessary bandwidth or processing power to complete a task quickly. According to Microsoft, network bottlenecks occur when there’s an overloaded server, an overburdened network communication device, and when the network itself loses integrity. Resolving network utilization issues typically involves upgrading or adding servers, as well as upgrading network hardware like routers, hubs, and access points.

4. Software Limitation

Sometimes bottleneck-related performance dips originate from the software itself. In some cases, programs can be built to handle only a finite number of tasks at once so the program won’t utilize any additional CPU or RAM assets even when available.
The most common cases of application problems are transactions that load the database and/or different system resources: static content, authentication, connections pools etc in way that is not optimized. I many cases configurations of application environments such as web server etc are done with default settings that respond poorly versus peak load traffic.

5. Disk Usage

The slowest component inside a computer or server is typically the long-term storage, which includes HDDs and SSDs, and is often an unavoidable bottleneck. Even the fastest long-term storage solutions have physical speed limits, making this bottleneck cause one of the more difficult ones to troubleshoot. In many cases, disk usage speed can improve by reducing fragmentation issues and increasing data caching rates in RAM. On a physical level, address insufficient bandwidth by switching to faster storage devices and expanding RAID (a data storage virtualization technology) configurations.
Load testing and monitoring tools are excellent at identifying bottleneck problems that hinder performance. Use these tools to optimize your business’s online platforms.

Sven Hammar is Chief Strategy Officer and Founder of Apica
Share this

The Latest

September 23, 2020

The post-pandemic environment has resulted in a major shift on where SREs will be located, with nearly 50% of SREs believing they will be working remotely post COVID-19, as compared to only 19% prior to the pandemic, according to the 2020 SRE Survey Report from Catchpoint and the DevOps Institute ...

September 22, 2020

All application traffic travels across the network. While application performance management tools can offer insight into how critical applications are functioning, they do not provide visibility into the broader network environment. In order to optimize application performance, you need a few key capabilities. Let's explore three steps that can help NetOps teams better support the critical applications upon which your business depends ...

September 21, 2020

In Episode 8, Michael Olson, Director of Product Marketing at New Relic, joins the AI+ITOPS Podcast to discuss how AIOps provides real benefits to IT teams ...

September 18, 2020

Will Cappelli on the AI+ITOPS Podcast: "I'll predict that in 5 years time, APM as we know it will have been completely mutated into an observability plus dynamic analytics capability."

September 17, 2020
One of the benefits of doing the <span style="font-style: italic;">EMA Radar Report: AIOps- A Guide for Investing in Innovation</span> was getting data from all 17 vendors on critical areas ranging from deployment and adoption challenges, to cost and pricing, to architectural and functionality insights across everything from heuristics, to automation, and data assimilation ...
September 16, 2020

When you consider that the average end-user interacts with at least 8 applications, then think about how important those applications are in the overall success of the business and how often the interface between the application and the hardware needs to be updated, it's a potential minefield for business operations. Any single update could explode in your face at any time ...

September 15, 2020

Despite the efforts in modernizing and building a robust infrastructure, IT teams routinely deal with the application, database, hardware, or software outages that can last from a few minutes to several days. These types of incidents can cause financial losses to businesses and damage its reputation ...

September 14, 2020

In Episode 7, Will Cappelli, Field CTO of Moogsoft and Former Gartner Research VP, joins the AI+ITOPS Podcast to discuss the future of APM, AIOps and Observability ...

September 11, 2020

Mark Thiele on the AI+ITOPS Podcast: "I believe AIOps will be everywhere, or you will be failing if you're attempting to do scale ..."

September 10, 2020

How is the AIOps market evolving? The answer in five words is: "Toward increasing levels of diversity." In the EMA Radar Report AIOps: A Guide for Investing in Innovation, EMA examined 17 vendors with cross-domain AIOps capabilities, along with doing 31 deployment interviews, and discovered a high degree of variety in design, functionality and purpose ...