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Gary Kaiser

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In Part V, we discussed processing delays caused by "slow" client and server nodes. In Part VI, we'll discuss the Nagle algorithm, a behavior that can have a devastating impact on performance and, in many ways, appear to be a processing delay. Common TCP ACK Timing Beyond being important for (reasonably) accurate packet flow diagrams, understanding "normal" TCP ACK timing can help in the effective diagnosis of certain types of performance problems. These include those introduced by the Nagle algorithm, which we will discuss here, and application windowing, to be discussed in Part VII. A slightly simplified but useful rule of thumb is as follows: A receiving node will: Acknowledge every second packet immediately Acknowledge a single packet if the Delayed ACK timer expires before a second packet arrives The Delayed ACK timer typically defaults to 200 milliseconds, at le... (more)

Understanding Application Performance on the Network | Part 2

When we think of application performance problems that are network-related, we often immediately think of bandwidth and congestion as likely culprits; faster speeds and less traffic will solve everything, right? This is reminiscent of recent ISP wars; which is better, DSL or cable modems? Cable modem proponents touted the higher bandwidth while DSL proponents warned of the dangers of sharing the network with your potentially bandwidth-hogging neighbors. In this blog entry, we'll examine these two closely-related constraints, beginning the series of performance analyses using the ... (more)

Understanding Application Performance on the Network | Part 1

As a network professional, one of your newer roles is likely troubleshooting poor application performance. For most of us, our jobs have advanced beyond network "health," towards sharing - if not owning - responsibility for application delivery. There are many reasons for this more justifiable than the adage that the network is first to be blamed for performance problems. (Your application and system peers feel they are first to be blamed as well.) Two related influencing trends come to mind: Increased globalization, coupled with (in fact facilitated by) inexpensive bandwidth me... (more)

Understanding Application Performance on the Network | Part 3

In Part II, we discussed performance constraints caused by both bandwidth and congestion. Purposely omitted was a discussion about packet loss - which is often an inevitable result of heavy network congestion. I'll use this blog entry on TCP slow-start to introduce the Congestion Window (CWD), which is fundamental for Part IV's in-depth review of Packet Loss. TCP Slow-Start TCP uses a slow-start algorithm as it tries to understand the characteristics (bandwidth, latency, congestion) of the path supporting a new TCP connection. In most cases, TCP has no inherent understanding of th... (more)

Understanding Application Performance on the Network | Part 4

We know that losing packets is not a good thing; retransmissions cause delays. We also know that TCP ensures reliable data delivery, masking the impact of packet loss. So why are some applications seemingly unaffected by the same packet loss rate that seems to cripple others? From a performance analysis perspective, how do you understand the relevance of packet loss and avoid chasing red herrings? In Part II, we examined two closely related constraints - bandwidth and congestion. In Part III, we discussed TCP slow-start and introduced the Congestion Window (CWD). In Part IV, we'... (more)