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A central goal of cloud computing is high resource utilization through hardware sharing; however, utilization often remains modest in practice due to the challenges in predicting consolidated application performance accurately. We present a thorough experimental study of consolidated n-tier application performance at high utilization to address this issue through reproducible measurements. Our experimental method illustrates opportunities for increasing operational efficiency by making consolidated application performance more predictable in high utilization scenarios. The main focus of this paper are non-trivial dependencies between SLA-critical response time degradation effects and software configurations (i.e., readily available tuning knobs). Methodologically, we directly measure and analyze the resource utilizations, request rates, and performance of two consolidated n-tier application benchmark systems (RUBBoS) in an enterprise-level computer virtualization environment. We find that monotonically increasing the workload of an n-tier application system may unexpectedly spike the overall response time of another co-located system by 300 percent despite stable throughput. Based on these findings, we derive a software configuration best-practice to mitigate such non-monotonic response time variations by enabling higher request-processing concurrency (e.g., more threads) in all tiers. More generally, this experimental study increases our quantitative understanding of the challenges and opportunities in the widely used (but seldom supported, quantified, or even mentioned) hypothesis that applications consolidate with linear performance in cloud environments.