Why are we so concerned about start-up time?

February 11 2008

One of the topics that comes up when you discuss performance like I did in my blog entry on Friday, especially about the Lotus Notes 8 Standard client, is start-up time. I am really amazed at how big a deal people make start-up time vs performance once it is running. So here are some of my thoughts, findings, and desire to continue the discussion.

Thoughts:

So why is start-up time on software really that important? I start my laptop or desktop about once a week. I let it start, load up Notes, and then it just runs. The laptop goes into sleep/hibernate mode when I move, but I do not restart it. I did that when I was using Notes 5, I do it with Notes 8. I am not sure why start-up is really that big an issue?

Findings:

So I did some tests over the weekend to get some numbers. Let's recap my machines:

1. The End User laptop - 1 gig of ram, single core processor, 4,500 80 gig hard drive, Intel on-board video, Windows XP SP2, Notes 8 Standard, Office 2003
2. The Developer Laptop - 4 gigs of ram, dual core Centrino processor, 7,500 160 gig hard drive, Nvidia Quadro NVS 120N video, Windows XP SP2, Notes 8 Standard, Office 2007
3. Notes 8 in a VM - 1 gig dedicated ram, 1 processor assigned, VM is on a 10,000 120 gig hard drive, Windows XP SP2 with all the UI stuff turned down. The VM is running on the Developer Laptop inside VMWare Server Free Edition
4. My Gamer Desktop - 4 gigs of ram, Quad Core Processor, SLI Nvidia 256 meg Video card, 10,000 100 Gig hard drives in Raid 0, Windows Vista Ultimate with Aero turned on, Notes 8 Standard, Office 2007
 
I have Norton Anti-virus running on all 4, with the configuration I mentioned in my previous article. I also made sure I had the latest video drivers and all drives were defragmented. Oh, and this is 8.0.1 beta 2 not 8.0.0. Except for the Virtual Machine, Notes 8 and Outlook are installed side by side, but not running at the same time.

So, for each of those 4, I did the following timings:

1. Double-click icon on Desktop to Notes 8 Login Dialog
2. Clicking OK in the Notes 8 Login Dialog to the Welcome Page - Nothing in Start-up Folder, no Sametime loading, no pre-loading of the Productivity Editors
3. Clicking OK in the Notes 8 Login Dialog to the Welcome Page - In-box and Calendar pre-loading, no Sametime loading, no pre-loading of the Productivity Editors
4. Clicking OK in the Notes 8 Login Dialog to the Welcome Page - In-box and Calendar pre-loading, Sametime loading on start-up, no pre-loading of the Productivity Editors
5. Clicking OK in the Notes 8 Login Dialog to the Welcome Page - In-box and Calendar pre-loading, Sametime loading on start-up, pre-loading of the Productivity Editors enabled
6. Outlook 2007 being loaded, with no plug-ins
7. Outlook 2007 being loaded, with plug-ins (LinkedIn, Plaxo, WorldMate Live, Sametime, Quickr)
8. Outlook 2003 being loaded, with no plug-ins
9. Outlook 2003 being loaded, with plug-ins (LinkedIn, Plaxo)

Here are the results:

The End User Laptop

  1. 30 seconds
  2. 18 seconds
  3. 30 seconds
  4. 32 seconds
  5. 61 seconds
  6. 48 seconds
  7. 63 seconds
  8. 25 seconds
  9. 40 seconds

The Developer Laptop
  1. 21 seconds
  2. 16 seconds
  3. 18 seconds
  4. 20 seconds
  5. 33 seconds
  6. 30 seconds
  7. 50 seconds
  8. 15 seconds
  9. 20 seconds

Notes 8 in a VM
  1. 19 seconds
  2. 12 seconds
  3. 16 seconds
  4. 16 seconds
  5. 21 seconds
  6. 25 seconds
  7. 45 seconds
  8. 10 seconds
  9. 15 seconds

My Gamer Desktop
  1. 19 seconds
  2. 12 seconds
  3. 16 seconds
  4. 16 seconds
  5. 20 seconds
  6. 23 seconds
  7. 43 seconds
  8. 10 seconds
  9. 13 seconds

What does that all mean? First, I am not arguing that IBM does not need to do work with Notes 8 Standard performance. I spent time talking with Doug Conmy personally. I want the Notes 8 Standard client to be faster and perform better overall. This is not a post about how IBM can stop worrying about performance. Now, that behind us, the numbers are interesting. If you look at the combined time of starting Notes 8 Standard and logging in to the total time of Outlook 2007, they are higher but not by that much. In the Notes 8 VM, the combined score for Notes 8 Standard (with start-up options, Sametime, and the productivity tools pre-loaded) is 40 seconds. Outlook 2007 with all of the plug-in I use is 45. The end user laptop is 91 sec vs 45 sec. So what is causing the issue? Seems like the processor and ram are the big bottleneck.

Let's Discuss this even more:

So what I believe is happening here is a combination of things. First, as I mentioned in the previous blog, people are not tuning the computer well. I bet that the speed issues that people see with Notes 8 Standard would effect Outlook 2007 as well. Could people be using the start-up time as an excuse for the Notes 8 Standard UI change? Could it just be loathing for anything that is not Microsoft? Are people so used to Outlook and Gmail that they will complain about anything that is not those? Now, there are some real issues out there. I am not discounting them. What I ask is that everyone make sure their machine is configured correctly. Then run your numbers. If there is still some major issues, then report them to IBM. Get in touch with the performance team there so they can fix the problem. Just complaining it is to slow will not correct the problems in the future.