Visualizing Request-flow Comparison to Aid Performance Diagnosis in Distributed Systems

Carnegie Mellon University Parallel Data Lab Technical Report CMU-PDL-13-104, April 2013. Supersedes CMU-PDL-12-102.

Raja R. Sambasivan, Ilari Shafer, Michelle L. Mazurek, Gregory R. Ganger

Electrical and Computer Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Distributed systems are complex to develop and administer, and performance problem diagnosis is particularly challenging. When performance degrades, the problem might be in any of the system's many components or could be a result of poor interactions among them. Recent research ešorts have created tools that automatically localize the problem to a small number of potential culprits, but ešective visualizations are needed to help developers understand and explore their results. is paper compares side-by-side, diš, and animation-based approaches for visualizing the results of one proven automated localization technique called request-žow comparison. Via a óä-person user study, which included real distributed systems developers, we identify the unique benets that each approach provides for dišerent usage modes and problem types.

KEYWORDS: distributed systems, performance diagnosis, request-flow comparison, user study, visualization

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Last updated 10 April, 2013