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Towards a Methodology for Performance

Measurement of Service-Based Systems

Marcelo Silva, Fernando Lins, Erica Sousa

Abstract— Currently, the use of web services in systems engineering and execution is increasing considerably. In addition, service oriented computing (SOC) is being viewed as an interesting approach for building more complex systems based on primitive services. Based on the widely adoption and use of this approach, web services performance evaluation acquires a considerable relevance, because this performance directly impact the performance of the entire system. This work proposes a methodology for measuring the performance of Web services, in which a set of steps can be used to accomplish this task. In special, considering that two relevant communication protocols, SOAP and REST, were proposed in the last years to support web services project and execution, a case study focuses on a comparative study of these protocols in order to evaluate performance aspects in real world scenarios.

Index Terms— Computer network, Distributed Systems, Internet, Methodology for Performance evaluation, REST, SOAP, web services.

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N recent years, one interesting topic that has gained interest is Service Oriented Computing (SOC) [8]. This paradigm involves, in general, the use of Web services for the implemen- tation of business capabilities. Service-oriented systems, in the- ory, promote reuse and interoperability, and they are devel- oped using widely disseminated and accepted standards (mostly based on the Internet HTTP protocol), thus facilitating its adoption by the scientific community. In this context, two communication protocols have been used to invoke Web Ser- vices: SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) [9] and REST (Representational State Transfer) [5]. The SOAP protocol is considered more established and is supported by relevant companies (e.g., IBM, Microsoft and others), while the REST
protocol experienced a considered growth in recent years.
A crucial issue in the development of services-based appli- cations is the choice of the protocol to be used. Both the SOAP and REST can (and has been used) for this purpose. However, they differ considerably with respect to I) necessary tool- ing/mechanisms for their execution II) execution time and III) support to non-functional requirements (such as security, per- formance and cost). More specifically, some current related work emphasize the performance impact that can appear de- pending of the adopted communication protocol [2], [5], [6], [7]. In the current scenario, depending of the system type, there is always a question regarding which web service configura- tion should be used.
Currently there is a lack of an approach that describes how to conduct a web service performance measurement study,


Marcelo José Santos da Silva is currently student of masters degree pro- gram in Applied Informatics in DEINFO - Department of Statistics and Informatics of University Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Pernambuco. E- mail:

Fernando A. Aires Lins and Erica T. G. Sousa are professors in the De-

partment of Statistics and Informatics at Federal Rural University of Per- nambuco, Brazil, PH. E-mail: and eri-
focusing on each step necessary to plan, execute and analyze this study. Considering this context, this article proposes a methodology for measurement of Web services, and this meth- odology adresses from the objectives of the measuremente study from its execution and evaluation. One interesting appli- cation of this methodology is the perforamnce evaluation of Web services communication protocols (more specifically, REST and SOAP). This evaluation is important because it pre- sent relevant results that helps to understand which scenarios are more favorable to use the SOAP protocol and what are oth- er scenarios in which the use of the REST protocol is most ap- propriate.
The structure of this paper is presented as follows. Section II describes theoretical aspects of the SOAP and REST commu- nication protocols. A methodology for performance measure- ment of Web services is carried out in Section III. In Section IV, a case study is used to showcase the proposed methodology and to perform a comparative performance evaluation of the communication protocols SOAP and REST. Section V describes related works. Finally, Section VI presents the conclusions and some future work.


This section introduces basic concepts that are relevant for the understanding of this work.

2.1 Web Services

According to W3C [9], Web services provide a standard mean of interoperability between different software applications, running on a variety of platforms. Web services are character- ized by their considerable level of interoperability and exten- sibility, as well as its processing performed between machines (applications) due to descriptions using representation stand- ards, such as XML. Web services can be combined flexibly in order to build more complex applications, and allows systems that provide simple services can interact with each other in order to provide sophisticated services. Another interesting

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definition is presented in Benharref [3], which defines Web services as an application that exposes its functionality through a description of a standardized interface that makes it available for use by other programs (clients).

2.2 Web Services Comunication Protocols

A considerable number of protocols have been proposed in last years to support functional and non-functional aspects of Web services. The first generation of these protocols [4] are com- posed by SOAP, WSDL and UDDI. In short, SOAP was used as the communication protocol (i.e., provides the messages format for the communication between client and service), WSDL was used to describe the services interface (i.e., what the service can actually do and which are the necessary parameters to invoke it) and UDDI was intended to be a standard format/facility for service registry.
The first generation protocols were largely used in the last decade. However, they were viewed as insufficient for more "complex" applications (i.e., enterprise systems which several functional and non-functional requirements). Based on that, a set of protocols were proposed and were referenced as second generation web service protocols [4] (WS-Policy, WS-Security, WS-Transactions and so on). In addition, during this period, other communication protocol has gained interest by the indus- try: REST [5]. Competing with SOAP, REST is viewed as a lightweight protocol in which services can be invoked requir- ing a lighter infrastructure. The REST functions are available for the four most common HTTP commands: GET, POST, PUT and DELETE. Based on the fact that all second generation pro- tocols (WS-*) are based on SOAP, this new approach imposed several changes in the service oriented computing scenario, because most of the developed protocols and applications were not initially designed to be executed with REST.
One central point in the development on the development of service oriented systems is the choosing of the communica- tion protocol. This choice impacts not only in the performance of the service invocation, but also in the system development and necessary support tools. Based on that, web service com- munications protocols (SOAP and REST) plays a very im- portant role in service systems. Based on this fact, they are de- tailed on the next subsections.

2.2.1 SOAP

SOAP [9] is a web service protocol that focus on information exchange in a decentralized, distributed environment. This protocol is an XML based standard that consists of three parts: an envelope that defines a framework for describing what is in a message and how to process it, a set of encoding rules for expressing instances of application-defined datatypes and a convention for representing remote procedure calls and re- sponses. SOAP can potentially be used in combination with a variety of other protocols [9].
Figure 1 illustrates how a request message is composed by the HTTP headers and the SOAP Envelope. The name of the ser- vice being created is identified by HTTP header, whereas a
whole SOAP Envelope of 490 bytes is used to identify the type of the service.

Figure 1. SOAP Service Creation Request.

2.2.2 REST

The Representational State Transfer (REST) is considered a simple approach for building Web services fast, using a set of well-defined operations that are commonly used to access in- formation resources. The HTTP itself defines a small set of operations, the most important are POST, GET, PUT and DE- LETE. Currently, the main REST reference is [5], which has been used for diverse others authors and developers to reason and build REST-based systems. The REST architectural style is an abstraction of the architectural elements within a distribut- ed hypermedia system. According to Fielding [5], the architec- tural elements encompasses the fundamental constraints upon components, connectors, and data that define the basis of the Web architecture, and thus the essence of its behavior as a network-based application. REST ignores the details of com- ponent implementation and protocol syntax in order to focus on the roles of components, the constraints upon their interac- tion with other components and their interpretation of signifi- cant data elements. It encompasses the fundamental con- straints upon components, connectors, and data that define the basis of the Web architecture, and thus the essence of its behavior as a network-based application.
A REST messaging example in presented on the Figure 2, in which the request message is specified in the HTTP header, and both the name and type of service are identified by the URLstring.

Figure 2. REST Service Creation Request.


This section describes a methodology for performance meas- urement in web service-based applications. The need for a

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methodology for this purpose is based on the fact that a con- siderable number of applications are using Web services cur- rently, and to reason about performance can help the business analysts to choose with protocol and hardware configurations should be used considering a specific workload. The method- ology is composed by activities, and these activities are pre- sented on Figure 3, which aims to support the Web services performance evaluation though measurement. This methodol- ogy was inspired in a seminal work of this area, [10]. Which was adapted to the Web services context. This methodology is illustrated on Figure 3.

Figure 3. Activities for Web Services Performance Evaluation.

3.1 Definition of Goals and System Boundaries

This activity is responsible for stating the goals of the study and to define what constitutes the system by delineating sys- tem boundaries. All this has to be clearly defined at the begin- ning of the experiment. Given the same set of hardware and software, the definition of the system may vary depending upon the goals of the study. The choice of system boundaries affects the performance metrics as well as workloads used to compare the systems.
For example, one has to be set if the Web service operation system server will be Windows or Linux. It is also important to know if there will be some kind of cluster, or if you have some kind of data mirroring with the raid for example.

3.2 Selection of Web Service Performance Metrics

The next step is to select criteria to compare the services per- formance. These criteria are named metrics. In general, metrics are related to the speed, accuracy and availability of services.
The goal of this services performance measurement study is either to compare different alternatives or to find the optimal parameter value.
Three metrics are generally adopted in service-based sys- tens performance evaluation, and are detailed as follows.
Response Time - This metric is defined as the interval
between an user’s request and the system response [12]. To illustrate this metric, Figure 4 is presented. In step 1, the user performs the initial request. After that, in the step 2, the user's application sends the request to the specified web service. Then, in the step 3, the Web Server receives and processes the user request and sends the response to the user's application (step
4). Finally, in the step 5, the user receives the required result.

Figure 4. Step by step of user request of web server.

Processor Utilization - Processor Utilization is the percentage of time during which the server is busy processing jobs. To measure this fraction of time that the resource is busy, it is possible to use a Windows tool called Performance Monitor [11]. This tool helps to compute the ratio of the request arrival rate and the service rate. For a stable system, the value of this ra- tio must be less than 1 (100 %), because the request ar- rival rate should not exceed the service rate.
Throughput – Is defined as the rate (requests per unit
of time) at which the requests can be serviced by the system. The following formula was used for calculat- ing throughput expressed as clients per second:

Throughput = Number of Clients (Requests) Response Time (ms)

For networks, the throughtput is meansured in pack- ets per second or bits per second. For computer net- works, the nominal capacity is called the bandwidth and is usually expressed in bits per second. In our case (Web Service), it was-used Number of Requests divided by the time in milliseconds.

3.3 Selection of the Web Service Workload

The workload consists of a list of service requests to the sys- tem. For example, the Web services comparison may consist of a set of requests. Depending upon the evaluation technique chosen, the workload may be expressed in different forms. For

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analytical modeling, the workload is usually expressed as a probability of various requests. For simulation, one could use a trace of requests measured on a real system. For measure- ment, the workload generally consists of user scripts to be exe- cuted on the systems that represents a specific amount of re- quest per second. In all cases, it is essential that the workload be representative of the system usage in real world scenarios.

3.4 Design and Execution of the Experiment

An important factor to be focused is how the experiment should be performed, considering both the client side that sent the request and the server that processes it. On the server side it is necessary to make measurements on its internal processes in order to obtain the needed results. In the case of metric re- sponse time and processor utilization, we have to isolate the process and leave you with the real-time type of priority so that the result really is as integrity as possible.Another rele- vant point in this activity is the design of the experiment itself. Before executing the required mensurements, it is important to define, for example, how many iterations should be executed for obtaining a valid statistical result and to define the size of the payload that should be sent in the network.
This is undoubtedly the main phase of the work. One
should choose the right tools for each type of task that will be developed. First, in the case of choice of programming lan- guage to be used in the development of Web service. Each application can have its own "language", which is translated into a universal language, an intermediate format such as XML, JSON, CSV, etc. Soon after the choice of language, you must decide which Web Server, can be Apache, Glassfish [17], Tomcat, etc.
After the installed environment, it can be to chosen a
framework for REST and SOAP. It has several options frame-
works, including the axis, JAX-RS [15], JAX-WS [14].
As for taking a measurement of HTTP requests, one can
use some form of software that servers as a stress test JMeter
[12], SoapUi [16], etc.
Some tools can be used for the measurement of requests
from potential customers for a particular web service. All these tools can be used to capture the time it requests lead. Besides being a well used and referenced by the academic community software, because it is an Open Source software.

3.5 Presentation and Analysis of Results

The final step of a Web service performance study is collect, analyze and communicate the results to the interested users. Graphic charts such as line charts, bar charts, pie charts, and histograms are commonly used in performance results. There are a number of reasons why a graphic chart may be used for data presentation in place of a textual explanation. A graphic chart is also a good way to emphasize or clarify a point, to reinforce a conclusion, and to summarize the results of a study.
Considering experiments focused on web services, it is important to remember the tree relevant metrics that were
already cited in this work: Response Time, Processor Utiliza- tion and Throughput. Most statisticas analysis and evaluation can be based on both metrics, and support the business user in the decision making process.
For the analysis of the results has been a lot of possibilities to be highlighted. Depending on the line of analysis that is chosen for the project and the data were collected. Regarding the response time metric can be used an average of time each request made going back to the server and the user.
When several requests and different amounts of load has, can be some outliers, which is nothing more than an aberrant or outlier value, is an observation that has a substantial depar- ture from the others in the series, or is inconsistent. In this case it is interesting to take them out of the "normal" samples to the result to be as close to a real case of stress on the server.
Such data analysis can also be used in simulation. After the created simulation model, you can enter the time for each stage of the model and test.


Based on the methodology defined in the Section 3, a Web ser- vices performance study is carried out in this section.
To illustrate in practice what was proposed in this paper, a case study was developed exactly following the acitivities of the methodology. In this case the server side was set up on a desktop machine a Web server containing 2 Web Services, SOAP and REST. In the client used a notebook to the load test.

4.1 Definition of Goals and System Boundaries

Firstly, we define the goals and system boundaries of the study. The goal of this case study is a performance compara- tive study of the Web services communication protocols SOAP and REST in order to compare their results. The System Boundaries consists of the Figure 4, when the requests are sent via the channel from the client computer to the Web Server.

4.2 Selection of Web Service Performance Metrics

The study was limited to operations that actually occurred and were confirmed, requests that have errors were not consid- ered. For each service, the rate at which the service can be per- formed, the time taken for the service, and the resources con- sumed was be compared. The resources are the local computer (client), the remote computer (Web Server), and the time of the process.
In order to measure web services response time, there are
several tools to perform this operation, such a JMeter, SOAPUI.
Considering the general objectives of this work, JMeter was adopted because it supports both REST as SOAP requests. JMeter measures the Response Time from just before sending the request to just after the first response has been received. Thus the time includes all the processing needed to assemble the request as well as assembling the first part of the response, which in general will be longer than one byte. Protocol analys- ers (such as Wireshark [13]) measure the time when bytes are

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being sent/received over the interface. Jmeter was also used to calculate the throughput.
To capture the data related to CPU utilization at the server side, we used Windows Performance Monitor.

4.3 Selection of the Workload

The study of this work was in the form of measurement. Sev- eral tests were massively developed with specific load testing tools. In these tests requests were made with 490 bytes each. In this case, each request, it would be a different user, making a request in the web service.
After the definition of metrics, the workload parameters were chosen:

a) Type of Protocols - In this case the work was to use the two most used Web Services, REST and SOAP;

b) Time between successive calls - The time of this case study were all requests sent to the server at the same time;

c) Number and sizes of the call parameters - The interval between our minimum and maximum requests were re- spectively 100 and 600 requirements. The size of the sam- ples was each 490 bytes.

The key factor chosen for this study was Number n of con- secutive calls and the comparison of the Web service commu- nication protocols SOAP and REST.

4.4 Design and Execution of the Experiment

Firstly, it is important to register the conditions in which this study was executed. On the server side, the configuration is as follows: Intel® Core ™ 2 Duo CPU @ 2.33GHz 2.33GHz, Memory (RAM) 5GB, Windows Operating System 7 Ultimate
64bit, Hard Drive 128GB, Internet 10MBps. The two Web Ser- vices (REST and SOAP) were installed in the same server men- tioned above. The tests were performed by isolating each of the services in order to not disturb the experiment results.

The programming language used was the Java program- ming language. To execute the experiment, the application server Open-source Glassfish was installed. In the study, we used the version of Netbeans IDE 8.0.2 without Glassfish. Af- ter the environment instalation, the Java API for XML Web Services (JAX-WS) for SOAP and Java API for RESTful Web Services (JAX-RS) for REST were installed.

The POST verb is most-often utilized for creation of new re- sources. In particular, it's used to create subordinate resources. That is, subordinate to some other resource. In other words, when creating a new resource, POST to the parent and the service takes care of associating the new resource with the parent, assigning an ID (new resource URI). POST is neither safe nor idempotent. It is therefore recommended for non- idempotent resource requests. The HTTP GET method is used to retrieve (or read) a representation of a resource.

In JAX-WS, a web service operation invocation is represent- ed by an XML-based protocol, such as SOAP. The SOAP speci-

fication defines the envelope structure, encoding rules, and conventions for representing web service invocations and re- sponses. These calls and responses are transmitted as SOAP messages (XML files) over HTTP. Although SOAP messages are complex, the JAX-WS API hides this complexity from the application developer. On the server side, the developer speci- fies the web service operations by defining methods in an in- terface written in the Java programming language. The devel- oper also codes one or more classes that implement those methods. Soon after the creation it was made the configuration of Web Service with Glassfish. After that the server was al- ready online and available to any user / application. With REST was also made a creation of a Java project, but we used the JAX-RS, which is specific to REST. Have the user side, to test whether the Web Services were working properly, a re- quest directly by the web browser with the ip of the server with the correct address of each web service was made.

The case study was executed and some relevant results were obtained. In Figure 5, the experiment was executed by observ- ing the % CPU usage according to the number of requests that were arriving. A comparison was made between the Web Ser- vices SOAP and REST, with the number of requests 100, 200,
300, 400, 500 and 600 respectively.

4.5 Presentation and Analysis of Results

In the first experiment, the Figure 5 presents the average of CPU usage considering the time that the service requests were executed. To measure CPU usage, it was used to the Windows Performance Monitor which gives complete information of all processes, memory ram usage, disk usage etc. While the re- quests were sent, the process was analyzed and verified in accordance with Figure 5. It is important to note in the Figure
5 there is always a difference between the CPU usages. The SOAP header is higher compared to the REST consequently it sends more data to the server process. Based on this fact, SOAP takes longer to process on the server side.

Figure 5. CPU vs Number of Requests.

Figure 6 shows a comparison of the number of requests compared to the response time. It is important to note that once again SOAP shows a visible performance disadvantage than REST. It is possible to choose any of the HTTP shipping methods, POST or GET. In the case of Figure 6, it was used the

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same script that returned the same value in both REST and in SOAP. These results show that there is a difference between the two Web Services, and it apparently increases at the same rate in this experiment. In this case, the Web server to send the response of the same script, returned to the requesting a mes- sage of 314 and 279 in SOAP to REST respectively.

Figure 6. Time Response vs Number of Requests.

The throughput was measured according to the formula mentioned in section 3.2. It can be observed in the Figure 7 that as the number of simultaneous service requests increased, REST has a higher throughput than SOAP.

Figure 7. Throughput vs Number of Requests.

When looking at the metric of Processor Utilization, CPU usage in all tests was higher in SOAP. In the case of requests regarding the Response Time, SOAP was also slightly higher, and this is considered a disadvantage in the performance evaluation.


The main focus of this work was the proposal of a methodolo-
gy for Web Services performance evaluation. This methodolo- gy details all the steps to conduct a measurement evaluation in this context. In addition, we compared the performance of the two most used communication protocols, REST and SOAP, in order to showcase the methodology. It is important to high- light that there are other existing approaches that focuses of Web services performance. Gary Clinks and Philip Malley [18] evaluated the performance of SOAP and RESTful Web Ser- vices for implementing Service and Resource Oriented Archi- tectures. The main contribution of Gary Clinks and Philip Mal- ley is the overview of both of the Web Service styles and their associated architectures, as well as presenting experimental results in which to demonstrate the performance of each style, over a number of test scenarios. It can be stated that this work and Gary's work have a common goal, but use different points of view to produce conclusions; they are complementary, and can be used together to provide a more complete evaluation of existing Web Services.
Another study that also focused on this subject is Pavan Kumar Potti [19]. In this initiative, the author compares the performance between two Web Services SOAP and REST. At work of Pavan, they make changes to client requests wired and wireless, also do some tests to upload files and compares all results both REST and SOAP. But the author does not ex- plain in details characteristics about the adopted environment or how the experiments were carried out. In other words, this initiative lacks a general approach to better present to the reader how to replicate the experiments in other contexts and environments.


The main focus of this work was to create a methodology fo- cused on Web Services performance through measurement. This work also made a comparative analysis of two communi- cation protocols most commonly used in Web Services. An extensive comparison of the process of creating services in both mechanisms have been studied. Web services perfor- mance is generally evaluated based on parameters such as server response time and throughput. The study shows that the performace of REST is better than SOAP calculated for each metric, both in response time and in throughput. As fu- ture work, we intend to develop a mathematical representa- tion to in order to also use simulation to evaluate service- based systems. In this case, formalisms such as Stochastic Petri Net [21] or Markov chain model [20] appears with considera- ble relevance. Using these mathematical representations and simulation, it is possible to increase the number of requests, since there is only the need to calculate the simulation result, and it is not required to execute all of these requests.


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