Learn how TechEmpower grew when ServerCentral ran its open-source framework performance tests.


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We spend our days fairly consumed with speed — from our servers to our cloud to the applications we architect — so web application framework performance is often on our mind.

That’s why we have long been interested in TechEmpower’s benchmarks for web frameworks. The open source project aims to help people pick frameworks that will make their applications faster and easier to scale — something so up our alley that one of our team members was an early contributor. When the TechEmpower team put out a call that they needed access to high-powered servers to compare web frameworks on, we immediately offered them a hand.

“With ServerCentral, we didn’t have to worry about the hardware at all. It was magically ready to go. All we had to do was install our software and get data.”

Brian Hauer
CTO for TechEmpower

For us, lending server space and expertise to TechEmpower was a way to give back to the open source community, which has given us all so much knowledge and support. No one was making money off the project, but everyone was benefitting from the data TechEmpower publishes.

Our cloud transformation team already uses TechEmpower’s framework comparison to learn what the apps they re-architect are capable of, and to find the fastest web framework for a particular application. More importantly though, anyone else can do the same. Supporting open source framework performance benchmarks meant giving everyone a chance to build better performing apps. When those high performance web frameworks meet up with the compute power ServerCentral can deliver, that’s when we can do our most eye-popping work.

How better framework performance helps everyone — and why it has to be open source

TechEmpower is a software consulting firm, so testing the performance of various frameworks is certainly not core to their business. As with ServerCentral, though, speed matters, and the team was taken with the idea of giving back to the open source community.

“We see scenarios all the time where a business is successful, but the software team can’t catch the application up to deal with the additional load,” says Brian. “Horizontally scaling usually isn’t an option forever — often it’s necessary to make the application faster. And that can be challenging when the framework limits the performance.”

To prevent the problem before it reaches their desks, TechEmpower decided to test framework performance for the most popular web development languages. That way, dev teams could make performance a part of their decisions from the very start of the project. “We want to direct people to an architecture that gives them the greatest headroom for performance,” Brian says. “If you choose a high-performance framework to begin with, your capacity to grow is much greater.”

“We realized people can make more informed decisions if they have performance data at the start, so we set out to generate reliable data. ServerCentral gave us the hardware we needed to get it done and give everyone an opportunity to make their applications faster.”

Brian Hauer
CTO for TechEmpower

While TechEmpower could have theoretically charged for the framework performance results, the team saw it as an opportunity for them to give back to the open source community. That proved valuable in its own right, giving TechEmpower a Github presence and helping the team with recruiting. It was also the only way to get people to truly trust the performance benchmarks. “In order for this to have credibility, it needed to be reproducible,” says Brian. “Making it open source allowed anyone to download and run the tests themselves, and it allowed everyone to contribute improvements.”

What raw server power and a 10-gig connection will do to your web framework comparison

From the beginning, TechEmpower had always planned to provide a web framework performance comparison in two environments: virtual and physical. In part that was personal preference — Brian and his teammates find unconstrained physical hardware appealing. But it was also a practical consideration. You can’t really see what a high performance web framework is capable of until you can give it enough room to truly run.

“Our in-house hardware was limited by our network. ServerCentral gave us the compute power to truly exercise the frameworks without a 1-gigabit network constraining the top performers. ServerCentral’s 10 gig network, with its ultra-low latency and great performance showed just how fast applications can run.”

Brian Hauer
CTO for TechEmpower

In TechEmpower’s tests, bare-metal performance still substantially outperformed most cloud environments for the same spend.