Introduction

Corda Performance Test Suite

Use the Corda Enterprise performance test suite to stress/soak test a Corda installation, driving either a single node or a small network of nodes including a notary. It uses Apache JMeter to start flows on nodes via RPC calls, and capture the start/return rates and thus throughput of the system under test.

Warning

This guide assumes that you have a working Corda test network or know how to set one up - the set-up and topology of the Corda network as well as the hardware used can have a sweeping impact on performance, so there is not much point in performance testing before these points have been considered.

Test Architecture

A typical test architecture consists of the following components:

  • a Corda network to be tested. This should be a network of Corda nodes along with a notary that is self-contained (i.e. does not depend on any external services). See e.g. ../corda-test-networks for information on setting up a network.
  • a CorDapp that is to be tested and needs to be installed on the cluster
  • an app to drive the test - Apache JMeter is used here

Apache JMeter

Apache JMeter runs tests that repeatedly trigger an action, wait for a response and record start/success/failure timings and so on, and allow to view the result data interactively or rendered as reports in various formats. Run controls like parallelising tasks, running tasks in a specific order and count and time based repetitions are already built in.

The interactions with the system under test are done via so called samplers (see JMeter Samplers) that can be triggered by JMeter and then run an action. JMeter has a number of built-in samplers, mostly around web technology, e.g. for HTTP requests, database queries, starting scripts and so on. It is also possible to provide custom samplers that can run Java code when invoked.

For the Corda performance tests, a custom sampler is used that invokes one or more specific flows via remote procedure calls (RPC), where all the required parameters for the flow and RPC call are passed to the sampler as parameters from the test definition.

Interactive Mode

By default, JMeter runs in interactive mode, i.e. it brings up a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows the user to create, view, modify and run a test definition. Tests can either be in process (i.e. the sampler runs in the GUI process) or can be fanned out to a set of JMeter server instances that will run under the control of a JMeter client connected to them (see Server Mode)

Non-Interactive Mode

Once a test definition is complete, it can be run in headless mode by providing the test definition and a report target directory on the command line.

Server Mode

By adding the -s flag, JMeter can run as a server process that runs samplers controlled by a client connected to it via Java Remote Method Invocation (RMI). This allows a single client to e.g. run load from various servers for one test run and collate all the results in the client.

jmeter-corda

Apache JMeter can be fairly tricky to run in a specific configuration - therefore the Corda Enterprise performance test suite provides a wrapper around JMeter that comes in a fat JAR with all required dependencies and a default configuration, and sets up the required directories and config files that JMeter needs to start. It is also bundled with a set of default Corda performance test samplers. On top of that, it supports opening SSH tunnels to machines running remote JMeter server instances.

Performance Test CorDapp

The performance test suite contains a performance test CorDapp (perftest-cordapp.jar) that is roughly modelled on the finance CorDapp shipped with Corda Enterprise. It contains a number of flows that issue tokens, and pay them to other parties. There are flows that e.g. issue and pay tokens with or without using coin selection, or create arbitrary numbers of change output or coin input states to test the behaviour of the system when using various transaction sizes and shapes.

Basic Performance Test Set-Up

The typical set-up used for performance tests at R3 consists of a small Corda network of 2-4 nodes and a notary to notarise transactions. These all run inside a datacenter or virtual network in the cloud with open connectivity (or at least Corda P2P and RPC communication enabled between the nodes). On each of the node machines, an instance of JMeter is running in server mode.

The driving app sits outside the network and connects to the JMeter servers through SSH tunnels. In the basic test measuring the throughput of a node, the test definition instructs all JMeter servers to open RPC connections to one node, thus saturating the RPC handler and driving the node as hard as possible. The test typically e.g. issues cash on the node (no interaction with other nodes) or sends cash to a second node which requires sending P2P messages back and forth.

../_images/jmeter-network-overview.png

Performance Tests

There are a number of different parts of the system that can be benchmarked with different performance tests, represented by different test plans and/or samplers. In general, the closer a performance test is to real world load, the less it is possible to isolate pinch points in the system under test. Hence a typical performance test run consists a of a number of these tests that allow seeing where a performance drop off occurs.

If the reasons for a performance bottleneck cannot be figured out using a set of performance tests, it might be necessary to attach a remote profile app to one of the nodes and profile a manual performance run using any of the suite of existing JVM profiling tools available on the market.

The performance test suite contains test plans, CorDapp and sampler for the following tests:

Performance of a Single Node

These tests stress components in a single node, without any dependencies on other nodes in the flow.

Empty Flow

This test starts a flow that does nothing - this gives us a timing for the overhead involved in starting a flow, i.e. RPC handling, deserialization of the request, starting/winding down a flow and sending the response. Note that a flow that requires inputs via RPC might have a larger overhead as these might need to be deserialised.

Issuance

A node issuing tokens to itself. In addition to the parts used above, this also loads/starts the CorDapp, creates states in the vault and thus uses persistence to the database.

Inter-Node Performance

These are flows that are closer to modelling real world loads to varying degrees.

Issue and Pay Flow

This flow makes the node under test issue some cash to itself and then pays it to a second node. This involves initiating a transaction with the target node, and then having the transaction notarised by a network notary, thus creating a load that is similar to what a node will do under real world conditions. This flow has a few variations that can be controlled via the test definition:

  • Use coin selection - the flow can either just pay the issued cash or use coin selection to select the cash to pay (this is used to isolate coin selection issues from general transaction performance)
  • Anonymous identities - the flow can turn on anonymous identities. This means that a new private/public key pair will be generated for each transaction, allowing to measure the overhead this introduces.

To test the throughput a single node can achieve, this flow is run against a single node from all JMeter servers. In order to measure network throughput, it can also be run against all nodes from their respective JMeter server.

Advanced Flows

The issue and pay flow creates a somewhat realistic load but still has a very uniform, artificial usage pattern of resources. Therefore more advanced test flows/test plans have been developed that allow to issue a large amount of cash once and then start to break it up in smaller payments, allowing the following settings to be tweaked:

  • Number of states to be transferred in one transaction
  • Number of change states created per transaction (i.e. the number of output states of the transaction)
  • Number of input states to a new transaction (i.e. pay a larger sums from change shards of the previous transaction).

Advanced tests also include testing e.g. connecting to the target node via float/firewall.