Performance Testing Services: The What, Why and How?
According to the latest report by Dunn&Bradstreet, 59% of Fortune 500 companies experience a downtime of 1.6 hours per week, which translates into a loss of $46 million per year when it comes to paying their employees during these issues. Add to it the loss the company may face at the customer side, similar to what Google and Amazon faced a few years back.
Just a 5-minute downtime on 19 August 2013 is said to have cost Google a whopping $545,000. On similar lines, a recent outage by the Amazon Web Services cost companies a loss worth $1100 dollars a second.
In the new-age internet experience, users play a very important role whether software or a website will work or not. How quickly do they get downloaded? How much space do they consume? Are they easy to navigate?
These are some of the most common things a customer will look for before considering a subscription. Performance testing is the most common form of testing that is performed to address the bottlenecks or identify the gaps in a product that can lead to unavoidable performance issues later.
Some of the key questions that performance testing answers:
- How many users the system can handle together?
- How well the system acts under pressure or when it is loaded with users?
- What is the response time of the system in normal and peak hours?
Why are performance testing services necessary?
Performance testing is done primarily at various stages of a product or software development to avoid last-minutes challenges. If this is not being done, any issue arising at the end of production would mean starting from scratch at the cost of expensive resources.
While this is one side of the story, the other side involves testing for stakeholders and their products. A thorough performance testing determines if their products meet scalability and stability requirements under expected workloads. In both cases, it must be remembered that applications sent to the market without testing for performance would mean a bad reputation for the organization.
Automation testing is a norm these days, but it can never replace the benefits of manual testing. Both the variants have their pros and cons and therefore companies prefer executing both on a product line to ensure there are absolutely no loopholes.
Common Types of Performance Testing
Some of the most commonly executed performance testing include:
- Stress testing: The main objective of the testing is to identify the breaking point of an application under extreme workloads. The testing process also determines how the application handles high traffic or data processing.
- Endurance testing: It is done to ensure that the software is able to handle the expected load over a long period of time.
- Spike testing: It tests the software’s response to sudden large spikes in the load generated by users.
- Volume testing: This is done to check the software’s response under varying database volumes. This is done by populating a large number of data in the database, thus checking the application’s performance.
- Scalability testing: It tests the software’s effectiveness in scaling up when required. It helps in planning to add capacity to the software system.
- Load testing: It helps in determining the application’s ability to perform under anticipated user loads. The main aim is to identify the bottlenecks before the software goes live.
Performance Testing Process
The first step of successful performance testing is to identify the testing environment. It is important for the tester to know the environment and the applications he is testing for. It is important to know the physical test environment, the production environment, and the testing tools that are available.
It is important for the software tester to understand the software and the network configuration he has to work with because that will make it easier for him to identify the system bottlenecks.
Are the performance acceptance criteria at par with the international testing standards? This would essentially include goals and constraints for throughputs, response time and resource allocation. It should be seen that the testers have been given the freedom to set their own standards and criteria to ensure foolproof testing.
It is equally important to visualize and conceptualize the various situations in which the application has to work. It is important to determine how usage is likely to vary among the end users and identify the key scenarios to test for all possible use cases. It is, therefore, important to simulate a variety of end users, the way they react, plan performance test data and outline what metrics will be gathered.
Configuring the testing environment is very necessary, especially when it demands a similar set up from where it will run. Other tools and resources must be arranged to prepare the testing environment before execution.
The performance test should then be implemented according to the test design.
Running the test could be the last option, but there are several layers to it.
It is important to keep a close watch as to how the application responds to various scenarios. If there are bottlenecks, the application should be finetuned and then retested for perfection. Improvements happen with every retest and therefore it is advisable to stop the test when the challenge occurs because of the CPU. In such cases, the CPU power has to be increased.