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A Complete Guide to Performance Testing

Know all about Performance Testing

With the paradigm shifting from conventional models to continuous delivery, performance testing continues to evolve to deliver future-proof systems to the modern enterprise.

Why Performance Testing?

You have built an application for your business.

The ideas that you brainstormed in your initial meetings have been executed well to give birth to an app. The app looks great, and beta testing ensures the readiness of the software product, as well.

But the real questions are:

  • Can the app withstand unexpected demands like periods of high user traffic or limited internet access? As per an estimate, a 5-minute downtime of Google.com can cost the search giant as much as $545,000.
  • How many users can my site handle before it starts to slow down?
  • How many concurrent users can a business application handle?

Despite advancements in cloud orchestration, DevOps, and scalability, a considerable surge in visitors’ numbers can affect any website.

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This is why the best software product development projects of the world go through a thorough performance testing process. Without it, product owners can only play a ‘Guess Game’ regarding the quality of their businesses’ solution.

What is Performance Testing?

Performance testing is the process of identifying whether the software will handle the high load, among other possible performance issues in the future. Thus, as Wikipedia states, the ultimate aim of the performance testing process is to determine how a system performs in terms of responsiveness and stability under a particular workload.

Moreover, with product performance testing, you can measure, validate, and verify other quality attributes of the system, like scalability, reliability, and resource usage.

Performance Testing Process

The performance testing steps can vary widely; however, the test’s primary objective remains the same. It helps your software meet specific predefined performance criteria. It can also help in the identification of those parts of the software system that degrade its performance.

Below is a generic performance testing process:

Performance testing process

a) Identify the Test Environment: The first performance testing step is identifying the physical and production test environments along with the performance testing tools and resources available with the test team. Components that make the physical environment are hardware, software, and network configurations. A complete understanding of the whole environment leads to a more efficient test design.

b) Identify Performance Acceptance Criteria: This performance testing step includes identifying throughput, response times, and resource allocation. Moreover, it is also vital to judging the project success criteria outside of these goals and constraints. For example, using performance tests to evaluate which combination of configuration settings results in the most desirable performance characteristics.

c) Plan & Design Tests: This step involves determining how usage is likely to vary among end-users and identify critical scenarios to test for all possible use cases. It is essential to plan performance test data after a simulation of a variety of test users and, thus, outline the metrics that will be gathered.

d) Configure the Test Environment: This step deals with preparing the test environment before the execution stage. Apart from this, you have to arrange all the required tools and resources in this phase.

e) Implement the Test Design: As per your test design, build the performance tests.

f) Execute the Test: Run, monitor, and validate your tests.

g) Analyze, Tune, and Retest: Collect, analyze and share test results. Based upon the results, fine-tune and test again to check whether there is an improvement or deterioration in performance.

Performance Testing Types and Tools

To minimize risks and cut costs, it is vital to identify the appropriate performance testing type applicable to the software product. And for that to happen, it is crucial to get acquainted with the difference in various performance test types. In the following section, we will discuss the most popular types of performance testing and tools required to execute them.

Performance vs load vs spike vs soak test

1. Load Testing

Load Testing is conducted to measure the performance of an application under both normal and peak conditions. The Load and performance testing’s objective is to identify the bottlenecks in performance before going live with the software application.

If a software does not undergo the Load Test, it can be as harmful as crashing the website at the peak time. For instance, in 2018, midway through Black Friday sales, Lowe’s website crashed. This crash could have cost the company over $7,000,000. Customers took this issue to social media and complained about it.

Lowe website stopped

Performance Testing Tool Required to Execute this Test

WebLoad: It is an enterprise-level load and performance testing tool which is full of features. It supports Load Testing by generating high virtual user load in the cloud as well as locally. Moreover, it integrates with a good number of third-party tools for monitoring like AppDynamics and Dynatrace. It also supports mobile and UI test scripts from Selenium and Perfecto.

Webload

Website: https://www.radview.com
License: Paid
Alternate Tool: LoadRunner

2. Stress Testing

Stress Testing is one of the performance testing types carried out to measure the system’s performance when the number of users increases beyond the limits of its specified requirements. One of the objectives to carry out this test is to understand at which level the application is bound to crash.

Apart from this, the test also provides insight into how the app crashes and the estimated time required to repair the solution after a crash. Unlike Load Testing, Stress Testing is performed outside of the parameters of normal working conditions.

Performance Testing Tool Required to Execute this Test

NeoLoad: It is a performance testing tool designed by Neotys and is used in the performance testing process. It is mainly designed for DevOps processes that seamlessly integrates with your existing Continuous Delivery pipeline. NeoLoad helps in stimulating user activity and also checks for infrastructure performance. With this, you can foresee the bottleneck areas in the web and the mobile application development process.

With NeoLoad, you can test at a 10x faster speed as compared to traditional tools to meet the level of requirements across a full agile performance testing lifecycle.

neoload

Website: https://www.neotys.com
License: Paid
Alternate Tool: Taurus

3. Soak Testing

Soak Testing, also known as Endurance Testing, aims to evaluate software working under a normal workload over an extended amount of time. The objective of Soak testing is to identify system problems like memory leaks.

Soak testing process

Performance Testing Tool Required to Execute this Test

LoadRunner: It is the oldest and, thus, the most mature performance test tool available in the market. Available since 1994, LoadRunner was acquired by HP in 2006. It has about 85% market share in the performance testing industry.

It aims to provide an end-to-end picture of system performance. It works on the principle of simulating Virtual Users on the subject application. These Virtual Users replicate the client’s requests and expect a corresponding response to passing a transaction.

Website: LoadRunner
License: Paid
Alternate Tool: BlazeMeter

4. Spike Testing

Spike Testing is a type of performance testing performed by suddenly increasing or decreasing the load generated by a massive number of users. The main objective is to analyze whether performance will suffer, the system will fail, or it will be able to handle dramatic changes in load.

Performance Testing Tool Required to Execute this Test

JMeter: The Apache JMeter is an open-source Spike Testing tool. Specially designed to load functional test behavior and measure the performance of web applications, it runs on any OS that supports Java.

Performance testing using JMeter helps in unit tests, functional tests, and monitoring. Therefore, it is considered as a swiss-knife of testing.

jmeter

Website: https://jmeter.apache.org
License: Free
Alternate Tool: LoadRunner

Conclusion

With an evolving digital ecosystem, website crashes and declining performance have become a common scenario. Even big names like HBO have suffered from this issue, when on July 16, 2017, their website crashed as the famous show Game of Thrones, Season 7 went LIVE. This led to a plethora of disappointing tweets from the fans.

To avoid situations like these, modern businesses need software solutions to pull their weight. Investing in performance testing is obviously one such solution. With increasing cut-throat competition in today’s digital landscape, quality testing has become a critical part for enterprises to build reliable, stable, and scalable software.

With expertise in a wide range of applications, Net Solutions provides end-to-end testing solutions to help clients launch their robust applications with high responsiveness, availability, and scalability.

Contact Net Solutions to build future-proof products

Ramanpreet Singh

About the Author

Ramanpreet is a Quality Control Lead at Net Solutions and has a vast experience in software testing. He loves to explore new opportunities in functional as well as non-functional software testing. Ramanpreet is always keen on working in new domains and testing mission-critical projects. In his free time, Ramanpreet enjoys cooking for his family.

Leave a Comment

Erna Clayton

5:27 PM, Dec 02, 2019

You have shared very insightful details on your blog. Passing diagnostics can help test engineers in easily finding the proof, root cause and specifications for efficient testing of the software. It also helps in gaining detailed information about the root causes of the test suite not catching bugs, behavioral analysis of the software and get more context out of the test results. This is great reference material for anyone wondering about passing diagnostics. Thanks for sharing.

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