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         +=======    Quality Techniques Newsletter    =======+
         +=======             October 2004            =======+

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                       Contents of This Issue

   o  Method for Estimating the Number of Concurrent Users, by Eric
      Man Wong

   o  NSS2 Update From Alan Salisbury

   o  eValid: Latest News and Updates

   o  Special Issue of IEEE Software, Incorporating COTS into the
      Development Process

   o  ISO 9001:2000 for Software and Systems Provicers:  An
      Engineering Approach, by Robert C. Bamford adn William J.
      Deibler II

   o  eValid: A Quick Summary

   o  Software Process: Improvement and Practice: Free/Open Source
      Software Processes

   o Launches New Website

   o  2005 IEEE International Conference on Web Services (ICWS 2005)

   o  QTN Article Submittal, Subscription Information


        Method for Estimating the Number of Concurrent Users
                           Eric Man Wong

1. Introduction

For the sake of capacity planning and performance management, it is
often necessary to estimate the number of concurrent users of a
system before it is actually put into production. It is because the
consumption of many system resources is directly related to the
number of concurrent users. Using web application as an example: the
memory usage, the CPU utilization, the number of server
processes/threads, the number of database connections and the
network bandwidth utilization are all increasing functions of the
number of users concurrently logging in at the system.

Notwithstanding the importance, people often estimate the number of
concurrent users by intuition or wild guessing with little
justification. In this paper, we try to introduce a simple method to
derive the number of concurrent users from some other parameters
that can be more easily estimated and justified.

2. An Unsatisfactory Method

A way people sometimes use to estimate the number of concurrent
users is to assume that it is equal to a certain percentage of the
total user population. It is not a good method because even though
the user population can sometimes be reliably estimated, the
percentage figure being used is often, if not always, a magic number
that has little justification.

It should be pointed out that the percentage figure just mentioned
cannot be taken as the percentage of users who access a system in a
certain period of time. In some situations it is possible for the
latter figure to be reliably estimated. For example, if we know that
every user uses a particular system once and only once in a month
and there is no preference on which day the system will be used, we
can safely predict that the percentage of users who will use the
system in any one day is about 3.3% (that is, 1 / 30).

However, this figure alone cannot be used to deduce the number of
concurrent users.  It is because the users who use the system on the
same day do not necessarily use it at the same time. Some users may
use it in the morning, and some may use it in the afternoon.  We are
going to see in the next section a better way to do this.

3. Formula for Estimating the Average Number of Concurrent users

We begin by defining what the number of concurrent users means. But
before we do, the term login session has to be clarified first.

A login session is a time interval defined by a start time and end
time. Between the start time and end time, there are one or more
system resources being held. Take any web application that requires
user authentication as an example, a login session starts from the
time the user logs on to the system and ends when the users logs
out. A user session (which consumes system memory) is created for
each login session. The length of a login session is the difference
between the start time and the end time.

We are now ready to define the concept of concurrent users. We shall
agree that the number of concurrent users at a particular time
instant is defined as the number of login sessions into which the
time instant falls. This is illustrated in the following example:

    +--------Login Session 4---+-------------
    |                          |
    |       -------------------+-Login Session 3----
    |                          |
    |               ---------Login Session 2-------------
    |                          |
    |                       ---+--Login Session 1--------
    |                          |
    +--------------------------+----------------------------> Time

The horizontal axis is the time line. Each horizontal line segment
represents a login session. Since the vertical line at time t0
intercepts with three login sessions, the number of concurrent users
at time t0 is equal to three.  Let us focus on the time interval
from 0 to an arbitrary time instant T.  The following result can be
mathematically proven:

    (*) Average number of concurrent users(c) =

            Sum of the length of all login session

Alternatively, if the total number of login sessions from time 0 to
T equals n, and the average length of a login session equals L, then

    (**) C = (n L) / T

The formal proof is presented in the the fulll version of this
paper.  Intuitively, the formula can be shown this way: imagine that
all the line segments representing the login sessions are joined end
to end to form a long string. If the string is longer than T, then
we have to wrap it round and round for a number of times in order to
fill it in the space with length T.

4. Estimating the parameters

To calculate the average number of concurrent users (C) using the
formula in section 3, a prerequisite is determining the values of
the two parameters:

  o the total number of login sessions (n)

  o the average length of a login session (L) in the time period of
    concern with length (T).

In this section, we give some advice about how these parameters
could be estimated.

Firstly it should be pointed out that the result of the formula, C,
is only an average value. It is possible that the number of
concurrent users fluctuate widely in the concerned period of time.
Hence, if we want the value of C to be as representative as
possible, we should restrict the time period of concern so that the
arrival rate of new login sessions (i.e. the ratio of n/T) is more
or less steady in that time period. For example, if we know that a
system is only used during office hours, we should limit the period
of concern to the office hours only, instead of the whole day. The
value of T is therefore equal to 8 (assuming 8-hour work) instead of
24. Otherwise, the value of C will be greatly dragged down by the
fact that the system is not used during the non-officer hours.

The total number of login sessions (n) and the average length of a
login session (L) can often be determined by the size of the user
population and usage patterns. For example, if there are N potential
users and we know that the probabilities that a user will use a
system one time, two times and three times a day are p1, p2 and p3
respectively, and assume that a user will very unlikely use the
system more than three times a day, then the total number of login
sessions in one day is N (p1 + 2 p2 + 3 p3).  On the other hand, the
average length of a login session can be estimated by observing how
a sample of users use the system.

In many systems, the frequency of usage and the average length of
login sessions varies widely for different users. In this case, if
we can group the users of similar usage patterns into a small number
of classes, the above analysis can still be made.  We can then
calculate the number concurrent of users for each class and add the
results together.

Undeniably, the usage patterns of users are often difficult to
accurately predict. But for most systems, especially internal
applications, some justifiable rough figures can usually be
obtained. A example is presented in the next section to illustrate

5. An Example

The government of City H is going to launch the electronic payroll
system for its 170,000 employees to view their own payroll
information. Due to the varied levels of IT competency, the limited
availability of PCs and the existence of other means for checking
salary information, it is estimated that when the system is fully
launched across the government, only 50% of the employees will
regularly use the system. Of these users, it is also estimated that
70% will use the system once during the last week of each month.  It
was observed from the users who participated in the UAT that the
average length of usage is about 5 minutes.

We can now estimate the average concurrent number of users during
the last week of a month. Let us restrict the period of concern to
the office hours (9am - 5pm) of any one day.

    n = 170,000 * 0.5 * 0.7 / 5
            (assuming 5 days in a week)
      = 11,900

    L = 5 min

    T = 8 hrs = 480 min ( 8 office hours each day)

    C = (n L)/T = (11,900 * 5) / 480 = ~124

So, it can be predicted that there will be an average of ~124
concurrent users accessing the system during the last week of each

                      For Further Information

This article is a shortened version of a longer paper which which
you can download from:


                  NSS2 Update From Alan Salisbury

      Editors Note:  Below is an email letter received from
      Dr. Alan Salisbury, President of the Center for National
      Software Studies (  You can
      reach Alan at

Dear Ed:

I think I can state without any doubt that NSS2 was very successful.
We had a critical mass of significant players from government,
industry and academia, and we had a good 2 days of solid

We are working on the NSS2 final report which we want to release
some time after the election, so we can target the right people to
receive copies. Title (subject to final revision) is "Software 2015:
A National Software Strategy to Ensure U.S. Security and
Competitiveness.  Report of the 2d  National Software Summit."

Here's an excerpt from the NSS2 Report:  "The vision for this
strategy includes two mutually supporting and complementary goals:
Achieving the ability to routinely develop and deploy trustworthy
software products and systems, while ensuring the continued
competitiveness of the U.S. software industry.  The proposed
strategy  includes the four major program themes listing below, each
consisting of one or  more initiatives which are further detailed in
the sections that follow:

 o Improving Software Quality and Security
 o Educating and Fielding the Software Workforce
 o Re-Energizing Software Research & Development
 o Encouraging Innovation within the U. S. Software Industry"

That's about as much of a "preview" as I think I can provide at this
point. The meat, of course, is the initiatives themselves which we
are  still massaging while we complete the overall  report.  If you
want to  mention any of this in your newsletter I think that will be



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Guest Editors: Alexander Egyed Research Scientist Teknowledge Corp. 4640 Admiralty Way, Suite 1010 Marina Del Rey, CA 90292, USA Hausi A. Mller Professor Department of Computer Science University of Victoria PO Box 3055, Engineering Office Wing EOW-337 (for courier) Victoria, BC V8W 3P6, Canada Dewayne E. Perry Professor Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Texas at Austin 1 University Station Stop C0803 Austin, TX 78712-1084, USA ======================================================================== ISO 9001:2000 for Software and Systems Providers: An Engineering Approach by Robert C. Bamford William J. Deibler II Abstract Executives, engineering managers, project managers, engineers, and process improvement experts within engineering organizations need a resource that systematically translates the requirements of ISO 9001:2000 into a usable specification for engineers. 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However, it is unclear whether the enthusiastic adoption of F/OSS processes is justified or not. Specifically, it is unclear what processes and practices are specific to, or characteristic of the development, deployment, use, or evolution of F/OSS systems. This special issue of Software Process - Improvement and Practice seeks papers that investigate F/OSS processes from a variety of perspectives and approaches. We are particularly interested in empirical studies of F/OSS processes found in different F/OSS projects, as well as studies that employ tools and techniques for studying, mining, or modeling F/OSS processes through analysis of F/OSS source code, development artifacts, computer-mediated communications (public discussion forums, chat archives, Wikis/Blogs), Web sites, and public repositories. Contact: Brian Fitzgerald ( ======================================================================== Launches New WebSite! 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AdaCore is always looking for interesting and innovative Ada stories. Please contact us with yours. We plan to produce videos of some of the stories, but all contributors whose story is published will receive a stylish Ada Answers T-shirt! ======================================================================== 2005 IEEE International Conference on Web Services (ICWS 2005) July 12-15, 2005, Orlando, Florida, USA Sponsored by IEEE Computer Society Theme: Bridge the Gap between Business Services and IT Services The 2005 IEEE International Conference on Web Services (ICWS 2005) is the THIRD year of ICWS focusing on Web Services. The long-term goal of ICWS is to build up a reputable and respectable conference for the international community. ICWS is a forum for researchers and industry practitioners to exchange information regarding advancements in the state of the art and practice of Web Services, as well as to identify the emerging research topics and define the future of Web Services computing. ICWS 2005 is sponsored by IEEE Computer Society Technical Steering Committee (a.k.a. Technical Community) for Services Computing (TSC-SC) and will be co-located with the 2005 IEEE International Conference on Services Computing (SCC 2005). The theme of this joint IEEE conference on SERVICES is "Bridge the Gap between Business Services and IT Services". ICWS 2004 was held in San Diego, California, July 6-9, 2004. A total of 230 papers were submitted to ICWS in 2004, 66 were accepted as full research papers. ICWS 2004 had 14 research sessions, 4 industry sessions, 5 tutorials, 4 panels, and 3 poster paper sessions. ICWS 2004 had attracted about 250 registered participants from 22 countries and regions. ICWS 2003 and ICWS 2004 have proven to be an excellent catalyst for research & collaboration, and we fully expect that ICWS 2005 will continue this trend. The program of ICWS 2005 will continue to feature research papers with a wide range of topics, focusing on difference aspects of IT services. Some of the topics include Web Services specifications and enhancements, Web Services discovery, Web Services security, Web Services based applications, Web Services standards and technologies, Web Services applications and solutions, Web Services realizations, semantic Web Services, and other emerging technologies or solutions. All accepted papers will be published in the conference proceedings in hardcopy and on-line version by the IEEE Computer Society. The full version of the selected best papers published in the ICWS 2005 will be invited to publication in the International Journal of Web Services Research (JWSR) (by Idea Group) and possibly other related journals. The ICWS 2005 Proceedings and JWSR have both been selected to be included in EI Compendex. SCOPE: Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following: - Mathematical foundations of Web Services - Data management issues in Web Services - Frameworks for building Web Service applications - Composite Web Service creation and enabling infrastructures - Web Service composition, orchestration, and choreography - Web Services modeling & design - Web Services discovery & selection - Semantic Web, ontologies, and Web Services - Dynamic invocation mechanisms for Web Services - Contractual issues between provider and consumer of Web Services - Version management in Web Services - Customization of Web Services - Web Services architecture - Web Services negotiation & agreement - UDDI and SOAP enhancements - Web Services and process management - Trust, security & privacy in Web Services - Scalability and performance of Web Services - Web Services standards and technologies - Automatic computing for Web Services infrastructure - Wireless web, mobility, and Web Services - Web Service based Grid Computing and peer to peer computing - Web Services based applications for e-commerce - Quality of service for Web Services - Multimedia applications using Web Services - Economics and pricing models of utility computing and Web Services - Resource management of Web Services - Solution management for Web Services - Adoption of Web Services by organizations - Case studies on Web Services based applications - Analysis, testing, and verification of Web Services General Chairs of ICWS 2005 Carl K. Chang Professor and Chair, Department of Computer Science Iowa State University, USA 2004 President, IEEE Computer Society Liang-Jie (LJ) Zhang Ph.D., IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, USA Chair, Services Computing PIC, IBM Research ======================================================================== ======================================================================== ------------>>> QTN ARTICLE SUBMITTAL POLICY <<<------------ ======================================================================== QTN is E-mailed around the middle of each month to over 10,000 subscribers worldwide. To have your event listed in an upcoming issue E-mail a complete description and full details of your Call for Papers or Call for Participation at <> QTN's submittal policy is: o Submission deadlines indicated in "Calls for Papers" should provide at least a 1-month lead time from the QTN issue date. 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