The success of any social media app depends on an engaged user base, and user engagement depends on great app performance and experiences. So when performance in Singapore suddenly began suffer for a certain global social media app — taking > 1 minute to execute basic functions at the center of the user’s experience — engineers from the company began to search for answers. They suspected that local telco network performance might be the culprit, so they reached out to Singtel for an explanation.
The app app needed 36.089 seconds to download relatively small photo assets. (One of these image was only 156B!)
To make matters worse, the app was also rendering images slowly. The app didn’t finish loading its first profile image until ~ 9 seconds after images had finished downloading!
Singtel used HeadSpin to investigate the root cause of the slowdown. Using information collected from real devices running the app on their network, Singtel found that performance of API, CDN and Third Party SDKs were slow.
Average TTFB for each API server was ~ 700+ ms — with some API servers taking more than 2 seconds!
Certain 3P SDKs were taking > 1 second to even establish a TLS connection.
Internal network performance metrics didn’t give Singtel any reason to suspect that their network was the reason for these issues. Armed with concrete performance data — taken from real devices running on Signtel’s network — Singtel was able to dig deeper into the app to find the root cause of these slowdowns.
XX.XXX.XXX.XX is geo mapped to
"fr": "Amérique du Nord",
"pt-BR": "América do Norte",
"ru": "Северная Америка",
"en": "North America"
When Singtel looked at how the app handled requests, they found that API and CDN IPs were mapping to servers in North America — instead of remaining in Singapore. This was the root cause of degraded the user’s experience.
Based on insights provided by HeadSpin, Singtel was able to quickly show that slowdowns in the app were not caused by flagging network performance. Rather, the issue was related to the way that the app was handling API and CDN requests. Engineers were able to quickly move to a CDN with lower latency to fix problematic connections, and app performance in Singapore returned to normal.
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