Performance Testing Services For Building Quality Applications
Performance testing is a type of software testing that evaluates how a system or application performs under various conditions, such as high user traffic, heavy load, stress, and other scenarios.
The goal of performance testing is to identify potential performance issues, such as slow response times, resource usage, or crashes, and to determine the maximum capacity of the system or application. This type of testing involves using specialized tools and techniques to simulate real-world conditions and measure system performance, scalability, and stability, and is an important part of ensuring a high-quality user experience.
What Is Performance Testing?
So, what is performance testing and why do you need to do it?
Whether it’s ecommerce, CRM, ERP etc. IT systems provide the platform on which most technology enabled businesses operate, and they are critical to allowing organizations to run in an efficient and successful manner.
You may have developed the best new application that is about to disrupt the existing industry status quo or you are about to upgrade or replace a hardware or software component. Maybe you need to know how scalable your IT system is, and can it handle the user activity that is needed to achieve the board’s new 5-year growth plan.
All these changes will require performance testing.
Performance testing will give you and your business stakeholders an indication of how many users and transactions (or load) your system can process within a certain timeframe.
All changes introduce risk and performance testing should be an integral part of your testing strategy to mitigate that risk.
Why is Performance Important?
When a user performs any action in an application, that action triggers code to execute. The code may perform a search of a database, add a product to a shopping cart or perform a calculation. IT systems also talk to each other and parse information back and forth. These are integration points and this flow of information is also managed by software.
The code that is executed runs on IT infrastructure, which is essentially made up of three components. Webserver(s), Application Server(s) and Database(s). These components can all exist locally on premise or be scaled up in the cloud to manage a large enterprise, this adds further complexities like load balancers, firewalls, data warehouses etc.
All of these components are software, and all are running on infrastructure that is referred to as the ‘environment’
The ‘Production’ environment is the live environment that the system users or customers have access to.
While functional testing is focused on ensuring that the applications can perform the business processes correctly. Performance testing asks the question; what happens when 500 or 1000 or 10,000 users perform the same actions at the same time?
We can’t line up that many individuals to perform the same action at the same time and since we must test before going live. We need another option.
That option is using performance testing tools to create the behavior of multiple users in a controlled and repeatable manner.
Like all testing, Performance testing requires planning and quite a lot of setting up
Common challenges with performance testing
Data set up and management. Performance tests need to run repeatedly and with large volumes of data being created.
Creating performance tests that match the real-world behavior of the live environment as closely as possible.
Scaling the tests to match the available capacity of the test environment and model user ‘loads’ to give meaningful performance results. It is unlikely your test environment will match your live environment in capacity.
Modeling background processes that run in the live environment and can affect performance.
Monitoring environment activity to identify where the performance issues or ‘bottlenecks’ are.
Providing meaningful, actionable information in reports.
Identifying the correct types of test to run i.e. spike, peak hour, soak etc.
So what kind of actionable information can one expect from a performance test?
After a performance test has run, the typical KPIs listed below can be measured.
The times can be observed and recorded on any of the actions of an application to help identify where the performance issues are originating from.
- Request response time– refers to the amount of time the application takes to return the results of a request to the user.
- Average load time- is the time it takes to download content of a web page in the browser window (usually measured in milliseconds)
- Web page response time/duration– is the time to execute all requests of a page, measured from the time the first byte of the first request is sent, until the time all responses are received.
- Transaction duration– time to execute all elements within a transaction. It includes response times of all nested resources, think time and pacing time.
Common Problems Found During Performance Testing
When doing performance tests, there are a few common problems that are encountered. These are:
- Bottlenecking occurs when more requests are made of an application or service than it is currently able to process, this can result in loss of requests and long delays in response times.
- Poor Scalability
- If the application cannot handle changes to the activity or load on the application, it will result in poor scalability.
- Software Configuration
- Specific settings can restrict workflow for example, resources limited by configuration setting on VM, which will inturn impact on system performance
Performance Test Types
Load tests model the activity of a subset of users on an application, giving the development team and the business a measurement of the ability of their systems to handle an expected workload.
A soak test will keep an application at a specified level of activity for a long period of time, typically soak tests are looking for issues that may not be apparent when running shorter duration tests, for example memory not being released after it has been used by the application, or caches filling with temporary data, resulting in a slow degradation of the application due to it having less resources over time.
Spike testing increases the load on an application abruptly and with little or no ramp up, anyone who has tried to buy something online during a flash sale or book tickets for a popular event and seen a website crash, will have experienced the result of a spike in the load on a system that is not capable of handling it.
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