X-Link Medical Software Interfacing Blog

X-Link - New Performance Visualizations

Posted by Gary Gorsline, CEO on Apr 9, 2018 1:50:08 PM

We've recently made many changes to X-Link to improve message delivery times and reduce CPU usage.  Some changes were to all editions while some are only to the Enterprise Edition.  To help customers understand more about X-Link, we've added a set of performance visualizations to provide insight into the X-Link operations.  The intent is to show when additional hardware and/or an upgrade to the Service and/or Enterprise Edition could improve Message Delivery Times and/or CPU Usage.  It may also assist in troubleshooting of odd issues.

So what's a Performance Visualization?

Graphs.  Visualizations are a nice way to see a lot of information in a single view, and this allows, in many cases, a view into something we didn't know before.  We provide 4 categories of visualizations.  Below is an introduction to each of these graph types.

Messages Per Day

Daily Message Counts.png

This graph shows the number of messages delivered per day by message type.  This graph can show periods of excessive data transfers.  This particular graph, if it was from a production system, would be alarming.  Why are there just two peaks of over 6000 messages and almost no other messages transferred for weeks.  The information in this graph, like unexplained spikes in message counts, could be useful information, if message delivery times or counts are an issue.

Counts per Minute

Counts per Minute.png

This graph shows similar information to the counts by day, except that there is no breakdown of what type of data was transferred.  It also has the granularity of one minute.

Counts per Minute hour.png

This graph just shows one hour of message counts per minute for the 7 pm hour.  

Delivery Times

Delivery Times Day.png

This graph also corresponds to the same day and shows how much time it took to deliver messages each minute.

Delivery Times hour.png

A closer look at the same 7pm hour provides a detailed view in the maximum, averages and minimum deliver time for messages.     The dark green center of the green area is the average amount of time it took to deliver messages.  The red line shows the maximum deliver time of a message during that minute, while the black line shows the minimum.

Delivery Times hour transfer.pngThis graph is a variation of the last graph, but instead of showing minimum, maximum and average, it shows a comparison of actual data transfer time verses all other time.  Time is measured as wall clock time.  In this graph we are looking for the dark green portions to be narrow, like in the example above.  The lighter green area represents the time X-Link was waiting to process the message - waiting for network, databases, TCPip connections, and other resources.  The total time on this graph is the average time to deliver the message and exactly corresponds to the average in the last graph.

CPU Utilization

CPU Usage Day.png

This graph shows the total CPU usage by all programs including X-Link on your computer.  Just as a note, the antivirus starts at 1 am and runs till mid morning.  It does seem to put some additional load on the computer when it runs.  The yellow tool tip box shows the data for any specific minute under the cursor.

CPU Usage hour.png

This final graph is an hourly view.  The main indicator in this graph is the total amount used.  If it consistently is above 75%, then you may be suffering from CPU starvation.  It could also indicate memory and/or hard disk starvation.  Starvation means you need more.  We recommend you have your IT expert review the situation and recommend if either adding more memory, hard drive, or replacing the computer completely is required.

The main idea is:  Change in these graphs may not be a good thing.  For example, if the delivery times quadruple one day, then it may be worth looking into what is causing that delay.  If the CPU utilization shows 90% usage on a consistent basis, it may be worth looking into what program is using all the CPU, and then make a decision on what to do to counteract the symptoms.  It is not definitive that when variable X exceeds point Y that you need to buy Z.  E.G., these graphs may be an indicator of an underlying problem.  Whether these visualizations help you or not, knowing more of what is going on is always better than driving blind.

Thank you.  We hope the information in the entry was useful to you.  

Topics: X-Link Updates, Development, Insider

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