Performance Testing of Open Data Services for Finnish Forest Center

Finnish Forest Center Open Data Services

Robustness and quality of spatial web services has never been more crucial, and Finnish Forest Center (Metsäkeskus) understands this well. Metsäkeskus published open data services in 2018 using Geoserver. Before releasing the new services, they wanted to ensure these services would be reliable and fast, so users of the data could make the most of the data. Metsäkeskus partnered with us to ensure optimal performance and reliability. We are very experienced in capacity testing of spatial web services and we offer a cloud based tool as well as expert consultancy to help customers in cases such as this.

Preparing for the realistic test scenarios

Testing service capacity and reliability requires realistic estimates of the amount of usage. In other words, what is the estimated number of users, how many and what kind of requests they are expected make. In the case of Metsäkeskus’ open data services, the service was brand new and there was little baseline to compare to. Spatineo together with Metsäkeskus made estimations based on usage data of other services analyzed in Spatineo Monitor as well as traffic analysis of Metsäkeskus’ website and existing applications.

After we had an estimate of normal usage, we also took into account the possibility that news of the published data might create some buzz in online media. It is critical for a new service to operate reliably right from the start or otherwise there is a risk of the initial disappointment negatively affecting of how reliable people see the service. Estimates were made using news website readership statistics and usage estimated based both for news articles with embedded maps as well as articles linking to Metsäkeskus’ own web map.

These scenarios were then translated into tests in Spatineo Performance. Once the estimates were ready, creating the actual test plans was just a matter of minutes: selecting the correct services and layers to test, and assign the amount of load applied to each part of the service.

This video shows how to set up a test in Spatineo Performance. First you choose what kind of service you want to test, then the service. After choosing a test profile as a template, you can select which layer to test. Once you give a name for the test and save, you can either start the test immediately or do further configuration.

For a more complete presentation on how Spatineo Performance works, you can watch this video.

Running the tests and analysing the results

The services were tested with Spatineo’s cloud-based application Spatineo Performance. During the tests our experts along with Metsäkeskus’ personnel analysed the behaviour of the services and servers to identify bottlenecks that affect reliability and performance of the service. To ensure bottlenecks could be identified quickly, Metsäkeskus had remote access to the servers running Geoserver to monitor resource usage on the servers. Performance testing was conducted in two testing rounds and an additional final test to confirm that changes made based on the test result analysis had the expected effect.

During the first two rounds of testing some possible optimisations in the server configuration were identified and tested. Java virtual machine parameters can make a big difference to Geoserver performance and we were able to improve the reliability of Geoserver by tweaking them: we set up the virtual machine to reserve all the allocated memory capacity immediately (same memory amount to both -Xms and -Xmx) which ensures that Geoserver has all the allocated memory available when it needs it. It is however important to test each parameter change separately to ensure that they have the desired effect.

Bottlenecks where you least expect them

The main observation during these tests was a bit of a surprise: In the first round of tests, the servers were unable to handle the amount of requests in the planned test, but neither the server CPU load or memory usage was reaching critical levels. Also, no exceptional resource usage was detected on the database server. Something was limiting the performance, but what?

After analysing access logs produced by Geoserver during the tests, we realized that not all of the requests from Spatineo Performance were actually reaching the servers. Furthermore, the response times in the log files did not match the response times measured by the testing tool.

Our suspicions turned towards the network capacity of the server. We tested this theory by placing a large file on the same server as Geoserver and measured download speeds when accessing it via the public internet and from the neighbouring server. This confirmed that the network was drastically limiting the bandwidth between the server and the public network. The limit had no discernible effect in performance when there were only a few requests to the server at a given time, but once the bandwidth required by the requests was high enough, the network throttled the requests and stopped some requests from reaching the server altogether.

Metsäkeskus contacted their service provider in order to fix the bandwidth issue. Once the bandwidth limit had been changed, we ran the final tests that confirmed that the issue had been resolved. Once the bandwidth had been increased, we could run also re-run the original tests to measure whether the servers could reach the estimated levels of usage.

Reliable services leads to trust

Making sure data delivery works smoothly ensures the data makes the most impact. Users will get the data and answers they want faster and developers are more likely to build applications using the data when the services can be relied upon. Successes in data delivery will also build the image of the organisation as a reliable partner. This builds trust between data providers and users in result contributes to the growing data ecosystem that is crucial for the development of new applications for the forest sector in Finland.

After publishing the new service, the open forest data WMS service is now receiving 1-2 million hits each month and it’s uptime has been over 99% for the second half of 2018.


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CEO greetings of 2018 and Kickoff for 2019

Think it was just a couple of months ago when we wrote the “Year of Accomplishments and Success” blogpost about 2017, and now we’re already on the verge of 2019! How has our year 2018 been and why it was so great for us? And what are our expectations for 2019?

CEO Greetings

“Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! The year 2018 has been an exciting year for us and our customers. We have seen our customers flourish and we have been able to grow our team and develop our expertise even further. Our team has been able to help customers with spatial data delivery, analytics and discovery as well as data-driven decision making and crop monitoring using machine learning. We love a good challenge and our customers trust that we can deliver. I’m excited to see what 2019 brings us and what we can bring to you!”

-Sampo Savolainen, CEO of Spatineo

Impactful Year 2018

During 2018 we had the privilege to see and meet with most of our international customers! Conferences such as INSPIRE2018 and JIIDE enabled us to have an actual face to face meetings. Several conversations and excellent feedback (to base our development in the future!) was something that definitely stands out from 2018.

We also wanted to once again give something back to the geospatial community, and we did that with Spatineo Availability Certificates. We offered free certification to any organisation that has spatial web services. We gave dozens of certificated during 2018, and hopefully we can continue in this path in upcoming conferences as well! If you want your services certified, you can shoot us an email to our general mailbox, and we’ll sort you out an certificate as soon as possible!

This year we had a privilege to assist our customers in several of their challenging projects. We have seen how geospatial industry has had a special drive in Europe as well as in Finland. The Report on spatial data policy was published and accepted in the Parliament of Finland. The Report discusses the types of spatial data are needed in the society, how their production, management and distribution is developed and how their use is promoted.

One of the interesting projects we did this year was to study and analyze what is the potential economic value of spatially enabled services in Finland. The study also assessed the economic impact of the national Geospatial Platform. A beta version of the platform is available for users and it includes for example intelligent search for spatial data sets and services that was developed by Spatineo.

Our study has been cited in several conferences, and Jaana & Luukas have both had presentations about it during this autumn. We hope that results of the study inspire all of us that work with spatial data and technologies to innovate new services and solutions in ecosystems such as built environment and health and social services. This was just one of many of our “Spatineo Impact” projects we have done so far, and more about the current projects will reach you once the time is ready!

More knowledge, more consulting

As previously mentioned, in 2018 we started to steer more towards consulting and project based work. Our capacity to give consulting to our customers greatly improved, as two new professionals Sanna and Riitta joined Spatineo this autumn.

The knowledge we have accumulated throughout the years is what we want to share to our customers: solving our customers problems and challenges is what we have become good at. Our extensive knowledge over OGC and INSPIRE standards, quality of services, performance testing, impact assessment, compatibility validation and several other topics enable us to assist our customers in even the toughest challenges.

Kick-Off for Geospatial Awesomeness in 2019

Just by looking at out calendar for the upcoming year, we can state that things are about to get hectic! Webinars, conferences, new projects and new employees dawn in our near future.

Webinar season will start in January as we will be hosting couple of webinars to kickstart the year. Stay tuned for the registration, so you don’t miss these gems!

Conferences/Seminars will be also kickstarted in January. Past and upcoming events can be viewed from our Events-page for more information and to look our presentations.

Trends and topics for 2019 are now getting clearer and clearer, and we can state that next year will bring our industry into wider scope of audiences. Impactfulness of open data has had quite the success this year across the globe, and we believe that this trend will be even stronger in 2019. API-economy will thrive with open data, and spatial data is at the hearth of many applications we use today. Continuation of this will only make spatial data even more crucial on the future.

We are currently thriving towards new projects, and we promise to let you know about these when the times comes. So be sure to follow our social media channels to stay updated.

Happy Holidays to everyone, and until next year!

Follow us on social media to stay updated about upcoming year!

Who are we? – Part XVI: Riitta Vaniala

Riitta Vaniala Senior Consultant

1.) Name, title, what you will be doing at Spatineo?

Hi there! I am Riitta Vaniala working in Spatineo as a senior consultant, started in December 2018.

2.) What do you do at Spatineo in practice? Tell us about your typical work day!

So far my days have been full of learning new interesting things, e.g. customer projects and concepts Spatineo has evolved. Every day starts with a cup of good coffee and a short chat with colleagues though – important factors for a successful day.

My first projects will be related to Spatineo Impact -concept where our customers’ success is measured and enhanced in a systematic method. My role will be close to customers: in workshops, together, we identify and collect material needed for the measurement. The impacts of data from different data sources are assessed in Spatineo and the results are visualised in dashboards automatically. Important parts of the report are observations and recommendations by which the organization can improve its success.

I am also inspired by facilitation and its powerful methods to elaborate appropriate plans, common understanding and common decisions. I wish I had possibilities to utilize my experiences and competence in facilitation.

3.) What is the best thing about your work?

The very best prize in my work is when the customer says he/she is satisfied and happy during and after the common project. Often this is reached by working side by side and solving the problems together. I also like to mix the competence I already have with new things I can learn from customers, colleagues, problem solvings and literature.

4.) If you are a tourist in a foreign city, which map service do you use? Why?

In foreign cities I mainly use Google Maps (in phone, offline) together with GPS. That combination gives me the freedom to just walk or bike around and head towards interesting places arised along the way – and I do not have to worry about getting lost.

When driving abroad with the car I count on the co-driver; he reads paper maps. The car navigator is often, or at least sometimes, a useful feature.

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