Thursday, August 04, 2005


I have been improving on an application at work for more than a year now with great success. We have quadrupled the number of users in that time and received additional funding for equipment and other resources. Unfortunately, we have run into a new snag - OutOfMemoryException (which turns into a Denial of Service [DOS] response to the user).

Okay, how do you solve that? For starters, we have not been doing a very good job at monitoring the application's performance. If we had, we would have realized that there is too much data being stored in our sessions. When 7 users on a server translates to ~500MB of memory you naturally encounter problems when your numbers increase to 28 (not actual figures :)).

The obvious solution is to stop putting everything into the session. Okay, but then the application suffers from network traffic delays due to round trips from the user's machine to the server, the server to the DB server, back to the server and then finally to the user's machine again. During off-peak hours this is not a problem. However, during the day our network virtually crawls.

The current proposed solution is an upgrade in hardware; the lead architect wishes to go from 1GB of RAM to 4GB. A sizable increase, but IMO, this ignores the real problem of too much session data. What happens when we quadruple or user base again? The server has a limit to the amount of RAM it can utilize; users, however, have no concept of hardware limitations and assume that things just work.

We'll see where this goes, but I may be re-architecting the entire solution at some point for business process changes, so I may tackle this issue then.

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