A Fortune 1000 client’s application benefits from major feature upgrades and performance enhancements

 

Introduction

Solü Technology Partners teamed up with a Fortune 1000 Finance and Human Resources outsourcing client to give a critical application its first major overhaul since it was built in 2006. After an unsuccessful attempt with another vendor, Solü provided a team of development, analysis, and Agile project management resources that were instrumental in turning a troubled project into a major success.

Team Solü worked in partnership with client staff to deliver feature enhancements that directly addressed key corporate strategies aimed at facilitating self-service, reducing operational setup and support times, and consolidating customers to a single application. Although project deliverables included an impressive list of new features, the most innovative gains came in the area of large/complex customer support. The team successfully delivered features necessary to win new large customer business, allow the migration of large customers from a legacy system, as well as facilitate the onboarding and maintenance of large customers.

The result — a more efficient, feature-rich application with across the board performance gains and the ability to support customers 100x+ more complex than before.

Background / Challenge

A leader in SMB Finance and Human Resources outsourcing was seeking to make major enhancements to a mature application with a large, established user base. Critical success factors included the addition of features needed to support large/complex customers along with the ability to scale as customer growth accelerates.

In the quest to deliver a next generation application the project team faced several key challenges:

  • New features required to support large/complex customers were much more computationally demanding than current features.
  • New features and performance optimizations had to be implemented for both a desktop application used by the client’s operational support team and a web application used by their customers.
  • Existing features needed to be optimized or overhauled to support large/complex customers.
  • There was an incomplete understanding of current application performance as well as current and target customer profiles. These knowledge gaps limited the quality of non-functional requirements provided to development and performance engineering teams.
  • The methodology used to measure and forecast performance in both pre-production and production environments needed to be enhanced to adequately address the emphasis on large/complex customers.

Process

The Solü project team worked closely with the client to enhance the application and address these challenging requirements. As part of the engagement, Solü used a proactive and holistic performance-driven development approach to add complex features while improving application performance and scalability. The approach was organized around an Agile software development process, the key activities of which are depicted below.

Performance Development Lifecycle

Solütion Benefits

In addition to delivering a leaner, faster application with new and improved features, the project team developed tools and made process changes to maximize product quality, performance, and scalability.

  • Added bulk operation setup and maintenance features, including an import feature capable of secure, synchronous upload of more than 20,000 records in less than two minutes.
  • For all user actions and all customer complexity levels the project delivered faster response times across the board. Production monitoring validated that all common user actions complete within a few seconds. Large, complex customers that might have experienced extremely slow performance or even complete failures in the past, are now seeing these actions complete in less than ten seconds. A major reason for the improved user response times was the design and implementation of a new, more compact data storage model. The new storage model provided efficiency across the application stack—reduced number of database rows, server-tier framework objects, and front-end data payload. When the new compact storage model was deployed to production it immediately reduced the database footprint for a critical table by over 50%. The project team estimates that savings will exceed 30M rows as new large/complex clients are added to the application.
  • Achieved equally impressive performance gains for a key “export report.” Although new and improved features added major complexity to the application, the team countered with algorithm and database optimizations. Exports saw a dramatic 50%-90% reduction in processing times. Additionally, large/complex customers whose exports consumed significant amounts of server memory and ultimately caused application failures are completing normally and seeing similar improvements in processing times.
  • Created a Customer Profile Tool which became vital to development, functional testing, and performance activities. Tool output included a list of almost one hundred customer attributes, in addition to a customer “complexity profile score”—information critical to all functional, performance, and user-acceptance testing activities.
  • Provided client with an accurate understanding of real user performance by enabling rich application performance monitoring in production. Enabled monitoring of real user performance for Top 10 desktop and web actions, as well as timing profiles for asynchronous batch jobs. Developed a lightweight Java framework and best practice document to promote use of desktop monitoring tools.
  • Integrated application with client’s business intelligence/enterprise data warehouse platform, providing their customers with enhanced template-driven and adhoc reporting capabilities.

Technology Highlights

Oracle Java
Dojo JavaScript Toolkit
Oracle Weblogic Application Server
JBoss / WildFly Application Server
Oracle Database
Redhat Enterprise Linux
HP Real User Monitoring (RUM)
Aternity Monitoring
CA Wily Introscope
Your Kit
Find Bugs
JUnit
SOASTA Cloud Test
LoadUI

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