7 Java Performance Tuning Tips

By SolarWinds on January 17, 2020


Since Java was first introduced in 1995, it’s become one of the most popular programming languages worldwide. There are many uses for Java, but it’s most typically used in web-based applications. For instance, the widespread Android platform by Google allows developers to code apps using Java. Because so many services rely on Java, it’s important to ensure performance levels remain high.

By collecting metrics from your infrastructure and Java Virtual Machines (JVMs), you can get the insights you need for targeted performance tuning. But this process isn’t necessarily straightforward. On the one hand, Java’s small lexicon and object-oriented grammar mean tuning in Java usually does not require an extensive outside knowledge base. Code-level tuning within Java is generally straightforward.

On the other hand, you will need to implement monitoring techniques and analytics to properly troubleshoot inefficiencies and optimize your Java-based app performance. Java monitoring is a multi-faceted process requiring diverse system performance metrics—you’ll have to monitor Java logs, infrastructure data, response times, and more. Here are some of the most effective strategies for monitoring your Java Virtual Machine (JVM) metrics to achieve system optimization.

1. Profile Your Code

Anyone wishing to monitor Java-based app performance needs a place to start. As the most direct method of code error speculation, profiling your code gets straight to the point. Code profiling allows you to isolate inefficiencies and regressions in your Java code to identify slow performance spots in your JVM. In most systems, code profiling will be too complex to manually perform in a time-sensitive manner. For optimal code troubleshooting, IT managers can download profiling software with live code profiling for rapid insight into code inefficiencies.

2. Trace App Transactions

Transaction tracing software can help you with two functions: identify slow transaction spots and trace the lines of code where they originated. API-based transaction tracing can point to the source of bottlenecks in real time, determining origin based on user impact. Transaction tracing can also be the first step in finding an error within your Java logs, since tracing software can walk your transaction all the way back to its origins in your log data.

3. Track Exceptions

Many SysAdmins might already recognize the term exception. In most computer languages, an exception refers to any mathematical impossibility in your code. In Java, however, exception has a unique definition: exceptions in Java are pre-configured lines of code to help identify errors within your programming. Java performance tuning can increase efficiency when you monitor your code to identify exceptions. Tracking exceptions is like tracing transaction errors, but exceptions require a unique handling process. JVM troubleshooting software can speed up exception tracking with exception metrics and graphical summaries.

4. Troubleshoot Bottlenecks

Bottlenecks are the end product of code errors and can cause application slowdowns or malfunctions if left untreated. You can detect performance bottlenecks with manual troubleshooting or with the help of JVM troubleshooting software. Bottleneck troubleshooting is easier when you also collect a wide range of JVM performance metrics like garbage collection, heap usage, and response time—all of which can contribute to bottlenecks. As a troubleshooting best practice, make sure to prioritize your bottlenecks in order of most to least severe, not just by their chronological occurrence.

5. Optimize Your Logging Library

Java performance troubleshooting makes more sense with a strong understanding of your JVM logging library. For successful performance tuning, you should know how to revisit your log data with a critical eye. SysAdmins who need to analyze historical Java performance can use different logging library options for troubleshooting. The most commonly used logging libraries are Log4J and Logback, which are both designed to organize Java logs. Log4J and Logback both offer control and search centralization for your Java logs. Logging libraries for Java can provide details on SMTP server logs, JMS queue logs, console logs, and more. To troubleshoot logs for performance tuning, you can search your logging library either manually or with automated log management software.

6. Integrate Metrics With JMX

Your JVM will offer a JMX extension, which provides a limited degree of internal app management features. If you wish to integrate your Java-based apps with third-party network management software, JMX includes a straightforward extension protocol for IT admins. App troubleshooting is easier with JMX monitoring since it allows for third-party connections capable of monitoring almost any metric your monitoring software can identify. All you need to do is create an MBean (a JMX management agent) for each resource you wish to manage. MBeans might be assigned to monitor heap memory usage, garbage collection, or even dependencies.

7. Don’t Forget Your Infrastructure

JVM metrics aren’t the only metrics you must monitor for Java performance tuning. Like any application performance monitoring process, you must also keep track of your IT infrastructure. Every app process depends on the underlying system infrastructure, which means a holistic troubleshooting operation will benefit from a good understanding of your system operations. Application performance monitoring software can help you visualize both JVM and infrastructure metrics in a consolidated monitoring format.

Software to Help With Java Performance Tuning

Java tuning can get complicated as you troubleshoot what code needs to be tuned and why. JVM and infrastructure monitoring are both necessary for a complete Java troubleshooting process. Both JVM and infrastructure monitoring require quick analysis of many different app processes and OSI layers. For the best results, consider using monitoring software.

For effective Java app monitoring with real-time metrics, SolarWinds® AppOptics™ offers Java application integration for detailed, real-time troubleshooting. AppOptics helps to ensure your process is holistic. JVM metrics are available on your AppOptics dashboard, right next to infrastructure metrics. Nearly all the major Java app management processes—from JMX integration to exception tracking and code profiling—can be conducted with AppOptics in a single pane of glass.

If you’re looking for a logging solution, consider SolarWinds Papertrail™. This data log analysis program offers integration with a wide variety of logging libraries, for historical troubleshooting in Java and non-Java apps. You can easily aggregate logs, tail and search logs, and set alerts for anomalies or errors. Tracking Java app logs can provide key insights beyond health metrics alone. For a complete Java performance tuning solution, you can easily integrate AppOptics and Papertrail.

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