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Every business is into making a unique product to add to ease of its customers. And, with the growing expanse of the online world, these products have to be doubly checked and verified so they are able to give the desired performance and meet the expectations of the users. Infact not only that, they should be able to redefine the space in which they operate.
Stress, you may say is the primary cause. Products are no different from us. Haven’t we all had times when we say we had enough? These are times when we get bogged down by the mounting workloads and unending phone calls. When one thing doesn’t seem to end and the other begins. Then comes a time, when our brains simply say-No! this is not happening. Likewise, the products especially software products like an app, a website or other software when it gets an unexpected workload that it is not meant to deal with regularly can simply fail to perform. Such disruptions can be highly dear to the organizations.
Here comes the need for performance testing. But what is it?
Performance testing is carried out to check how your software or application responds under certain conditions. There is no doubt to the fact that the data is all set to grow. And, of course, whatever you design today has to be future-ready and sustainable. This means there is no point in designing a product that will not be able to give optimal performance going forward in terms of speed, stability, and scalability. Now, if you have a product or software that gives an awesome performance with say 1000 visitors, are you sure the same will not sink if the number grows to 100,000 visitors? You will definitely want to see that number soon but does your product also feel the same?
This is why you need to take up performance testing. Do you know that nearly 59% of the Fortune 500 companies meet with approximately 1.6 hours of downtime every week? Now being a Fortune 500 name, it must have a minimum of 10,000 workers getting a minimum of no less than $56 an hour. Talking in sheer numbers, the downtime will translate into a weekly cost of approximately $896,000 and to that effect a yearly cost of around $46 million. Imagine!
Thus, performance testing is done to ensure that things remain as they are even in times of peril. There are many types and kinds of performance tests that are available each of which stands to simulate a particular scenario. For instance, there is a load test, endurance test, peak test, and even the stress test.
These are usually taken up to verify that the product that you have designed is completely ready to hit the market. Also, you get a broader view of what all improvements if any are required. It is quite possible that without performance testing, the software may face serious speed issues especially when it is accessed by multiple users and may also show inconsistent behavior across different operating systems and poor usability.
Hence, performance testing will tell you correctly if the software is able to meet the speed, scalability and stability requirements in case of increased workloads. Imagine if your product hits the market without appropriate performance testing and shows up poor metrics? Not only will it end up getting a bad name for your organization for that product but may rip apart the whole credibility need for your organization.
Let us explore our different types of Performance Testing in detail.
As mentioned above, there are many types of performance testing. These are:
Load Testing: This is used to check the ability of the application to be able to perform optimally under anticipated workloads. This is done to check the performance bottlenecks before the software actually hits the market.
Endurance Testing: Unlike the above test this one is specially designed to see if the software is able to handle the increased workloads over an extended period of time.
Now that you have a fair idea of why we need to carry out performance testing and what are the different types of performance tests that are available. Let us also see what are most recurring problems that a software encounters that hamper its performance.
It has been largely seen that the most common performance problems are centered around speed, loading time, response time and fallen scalability. Speed is regarded as the vital attribute of an application. Any application that is slow can lose many potential users. Organizations perform performance testing to ensure that the attention span and interest of the user are not lost due to the slow speed of the application. Let us dive deeper into this and see how speed is the underlying cause of most of the performance issues.
Lengthy Load Time: Load time is considered as the initial time that is required by an application to start. Ideally, this should be kept to a bare minimum. Although many applications need a load time that under one minute but the best applications have a load time of a few seconds.
Bad Response Time: Response time is the time taken by the application to respond to the data that is fed in by the user. Again, for proper applications, this should be very quick. Now again, if a user has already punched in a query and has to wait for a long time to get a response, it is possible that they will lose interest.
Let us now address the elephant in the room and walk through the entire process of Performance Testing
Although the process or the methods for performance testing can vary the primary objective cannot change. It helps to show that your software is able to meet the laid-out criteria for performance. Also, it is helpful in comparison to two different software. Many also take up these tests for the identification of those parts of the software that are bringing down the overall performance.
Let us see a general process for performance testing.
Identification of the Testing Environment: It is important that you are well acquainted with your physical test environment along with the production environment. Knowledge of testing tools is also important. In order to carry out the tests effectively, make sure you completely understand the hardware and software details and other network configurations. This has to be done before you actually start the testing process. This will help the testers to create more efficient tests. This step also calls for identification of all the possible challenges that the testers may encounter, during the process of performance testing.
Identification of the Criteria for Performance Acceptance: This step involves the identification of all the goals and limitations of the throughput, allocation of resources and even the response times. Identification of project success criteria that fall outside the goals and constraints are also urgent. Hence the testers should have the permission and leverage to set the criteria of performance and other goals as mostly the project specifications will not have a good variety of other benchmarks of performance. At times there are no benchmarks at all. If possible you can look for a similar application for comparison of the performance goals.
Obviously, when you carry out such elaborate tests you have to keep in mind certain parameters that have to be monitored. Let us see which ones have to be monitored:
Processor Usage: This one is vital. You check the amount of time a processor takes to execute various non-idle or busy threads.
Memory Use: This helps to check the total amount of physical memory that is available to the processor on the computer.
Disk Time: This stands for the amount of time taken by a disk in the execution of a read or write request.
Bandwidth: This gives the bits per second that are used by the network interface.
Private Bytes: This stands for the number of bytes that have been allocated by a process and cannot be shared amongst other processes. They are basically used to find out the memory leaks and usage.
Committed Memory: This stands for the amount of virtual memory that is actually used.
Memory Pages/Second: This stands for the number of pages that are either written to or even read from the disk for resolving the hard page faults. These happen when the code not from the current working set is called up from other places and then retrieved from the disk.
Page Faults/second: This shows the overall rate for processing of the page faults by the processor. This also occurs when the process needs a code that is outside the working set.
CPU Interruptions Per second: These are the average number of hardware interruptions received by the processor every second.
Disk Queue Length: These are the average number of read and write requests that are lined up for the selected disk in an interval.
Network Output Queue Length: This shows the length of the output packet queue. Anything that is more than two shows a delay.
Response Time: This is to show a time when a user has punched in a request and till the first character of the response is received.
Throughput: This shows the rate of a computer or a network shows requests per second.
Maximum Active Sessions: These are the maximum number of sessions that can be active at one time.
Hit Ratios: This has to deal with the SQL statements that are handled by the cached data and not the I/O operations.
Hits per Second: This refers to the number of hits on the server during every second of the load test.
Health Threads: The health of an application can be measured by the number of active and running threads.
It is also important to know about some of the most popular tools for performance testing. The tools that you will be using will actually depend on the factors like the supported protocol, license cost, hardware requirements, platform support, etc.
LoadNinja, NeoLoad, HPLoadRunner, Jmeter, etc. are some of the known tools for performance testing.
Thus, we see to launch a new product in a market it takes a lot of effort even after the development phase is complete. Your product is not ready to hit the market unless it has undergone a lengthy and elaborate phase of performance testing. This is essential to test if the software will perform well in case of overload or other stress factors. Many known companies have lost millions of dollars even to the very small duration of downtime. And for young startups, it can simply spell doom. Hence, performance testing should be taken up without a doubt, following the process to the core. There are many types of performance tests. Likewise, the tools also vary accordingly.
If you are still with us, we bet you enjoyed reading it as much as you learned about performance testing. How far is this going to help you in your venture will depend on you, but do care to share your thoughts on the same.
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