Server Performance Tuning Habit #10: Compare Apples to Apples

Here’s the final follow-up post in my 10 Habits of Great Server Performance Tuners series. This one focuses on the tenth habit: Compare apples to apples.  


Much of performance analysis involves comparisons: to baselines, to competitive systems, or to expectations. It is surprisingly easy to make an inappropriate comparison. I have seen it done many times and certainly been guilty of it myself. So the final habit to be aware of is to always compare apples to apples.

Make sure that the 2 systems or applications you are comparing are being run the same way, with the same configuration, under the same conditions. If there is a difference, understand (or at least hypothesize about) the impact of that difference on the performance. Dig into the details about experiments – for some ideas on what to look for, see habit 7.

You should always make this a habit – but it is especially important when you are making decisions based on the comparison. Double-check your work in this case!

This series has given you 10 of the habits I have learned in my years tuning server performance. Of course there are other tricks of the trade and BKMs, which I will try to cover in future blogs. But making these habits part of your routine will help make you a better, more consistent performance tuner. Good luck with your optimization projects!