There's no denying that cloud based technology is the way forward. Organizations are quickly realizing the benefits of a cloud based framework because of the way it's positively impacting the deployment and monitoring of applications by end users.
Why is cloud performance testing necessary?
In the cloud, there's potentially an infinite pool of resources for computing, storage, and networking, allowing all kinds of applications to be scaled exactly the way a business needs. But it's important to measure the performance of these applications in the cloud. Performance is the utmost factor - and performance testing all your applications is vital, as it directly impacts the end user experience.
The purpose of performance testing is to test applications for functional as well as non-functional requirements, to ensure that all is working well under the designated and expected workload.
What things should be tested?
The focus of cloud performance testing is to check three key things:
- Speed - To establish whether the application responds quickly
- Scalability - To determine the maximum user load the application can handle.
- Stability - To check if the application is stable under varying loads
In essence, the goal of performance testing is not to find glitches or bugs, but to eliminate various performance bottle-necks that might occur within an application. It's sometimes referred to as “Perf Testing”, and is a subset of performance engineering.
What happens if I don't do performance testing?
Without performance testing, most software applications are likely to suffer from issues such as running slow when being used by several users simultaneously. There can also be inconsistencies across different operating systems, resulting in poor usability, which can translate very quickly to carrying periods of downtime. Poor usability can cost businesses dearly.
According to studies by Dunn & Bradstreet, at least 59% of Fortune 500 companies experience an estimated 1.6 hours of downtime every week. The average Fortune 500 company employs a minimum of 10,000 people, at $56 per hour. The cost of downtime then translates to more than $46 million per year.
Benefits of cloud performance testing
There are different types of cloud testing, but generally it's an easy operation and is able to be configured without too much complexity.
Cloud testing enables organizations to gain control of their budget. By using the cloud as a platform for testing, there's a reduced need for installation setup and maintenance of hardware components.
One of the key benefits of cloud performance testing is that users can access their resources from any device as long as they have an internet connection. This means that hardware and software investment is no longer a priority when assessing an organization's scalability and optimal performance requirements.
Cloud performance testing can be done from any location, which is a boon for organizations now that remote working is commonplace. It also means that global scaling is possible.
Cloud based testing programs come embedded with standardized and pre-configured software which is capable of eradicating any issues quickly and efficiently.
Platform and environment diversity
Cloud based testing provides diversity within an organization's network environment as it has the capacity to handle a variety of requests from multiple clients, using different platforms. This is particularly beneficial in a hybrid working environment, where the ability to customize testing is crucial.
Cloud performance testing vs in-house testing
Traditionally, in-house performance testing was a labor intensive process, and a drain on IT departments, requiring a complex infrastructure and massive resources that often were only sporadically used.
As business models change, and working infrastructures move outside the physical office, it's becoming logistically harder for organizations to maintain in-house test facilities. Cloud based test tools are different from traditional in-house applications. Cloud performance testing measures metrics such as system throughput & latency your system experiences with the changing number of parallel users accessing your application. It also measures different load profiles, and various other performance parameters.
Elasticity is one of the major factors for the cloud infrastructure as it defines the cloud’s ability to deal with varying load variations by adding more resources when loads are high - or consolidating the users to fewer points when the load decreases, all in a live cloud setup.
Scalability, availability, fault tolerance, and reliability are other factors that make an optimal cloud infrastructure.
A cloud based load testing also allows you to achieve maximum performance by utilizing a cost-effective means of testing your applications at scale by allowing the simulation of load tests made up of millions of concurrent users coming from multiple geographical locations.
What types of cloud performance testing should you do?
Below are the types of performance tests you should conduct:
- Load test: A load test ascertains whether or not your system's performance is at an optimal point when it is being used by multiple users at the same time.
- Stress test: If you designed your communication system to handle hundreds or thousands of calls at any given time, how do you know it can actually stand up to the demand? You can't be completely certain until you actually receive the maximum level of intended traffic. With stress testing, you find bottlenecks and identify performance issues before they occur, allowing you to take corrective action.
- Latency test: A latency test is vital to measure the time taken for moving data messages between two points within a cloud network.
- Browser test: This type of test is critical for determining the compatibility of a browser with the overall system.
- Targeted infrastructure test: In this test, each component or layer of an application is isolated and tested for the ability to deliver the required performance. This test helps uncover any issue that would hamper the overall system’s performance.
- Failover test: This determines a system’s ability to call in additional resources when it faces heavy traffic and usage to ensure that the end user’s experience is not affected.
- Capacity test: This test is essential for identifying and benchmarking the maximum amount of traffic or load that the cloud system can handle effectively.
- Soak test: Soak testing measures the performance of a system when exposed to heavy traffic for an extended duration to validate its behavior in the production environment.
Functional vs non-functional testing
Testing is broadly categorized into Functional and Non- Functional Testing.
Functional testing is basically defined as a type of testing which verifies that each function of the application works in conformance with the requirement and specification. This testing isn't concerned with source code, instead each functionality of the application is tested by providing appropriate test input, expecting the output and comparing the actual output with the expected output.
Non-functional testing is designed to test the readiness of a system as per nonfunctional parameters which are not addressed by functional testing.
Different ways to test in the cloud
Cloud based systems and cloud based testing are equally complex infrastructures. These are the types of cloud based testing that can be performed, depending on why it is to be used:
- Testing the Whole Cloud: In this category of test, the cloud is viewed as an entity on its own and takes into account the features it offers.
- Testing Elements Within the Cloud: Here, the internal features of the cloud are assessed, and tests are carried out accordingly.
- Testing Across Clouds: These tests are carried out on the different kinds of clouds, such as private, public, and hybrid clouds, depending on test specifications.
- SaaS Testing the Cloud: Software as a Service (SaaS) performs tests based on the requirements of the cloud via function and non-functional test.
The performance testing process
The methodology that many organizations adopt for performance testing can vary widely. The basic objective for testing performance remain the same, however. Firstly, it can help show that your software system meets certain pre-defined performance criteria. Secondly, it can help compare the performance of two software systems. And thirdly, it can help identify parts of your software system which degrade its performance.
The following should help equip you with the necessary steps in the performance testing process:
- Become familiar with your testing environment - Know your physical test environment, production environment and what testing tools are available within your infrastructure. Understand details of the hardware, software and network configurations used during testing before you begin the testing process. It will help testers create more efficient tests. It will also help identify possible challenges that testers may encounter during the performance testing procedures.
- Identify the performance acceptance criteria - This includes goals and constraints for throughput, response times and resource allocation. It is also necessary to identify project success criteria outside of these goals and constraints. Testers should be empowered to set performance criteria and goals because often the project specifications will not include a wide enough variety of performance benchmarks. Sometimes there may be none at all. When possible finding a similar application to compare to is a good way to set performance goals.
- Plan & design performance tests - Determine how usage is likely to vary between end users and identify key scenarios to test for all possible use cases. This means it's a good idea to simulate a variety of end users, plan performance test data and outline what metrics will be gathered.
- Configuring the test environment - Prepare the testing environment before execution. Also, arrange tools and other resources.
- Implement test design - Create the performance tests according to your test design.
- Run the tests - Execute and monitor the tests.
- Analyze, tune and retest - Consolidate, analyze and share test results. Then fine tune and test again to see if there is an improvement or decrease in performance. Since improvements generally grow smaller with each retest, stop when bottle-necking is caused by the CPU. Then you may have the consider option of increasing CPU power.
What's the right amount of testing?
There is no magic number for how often you should test—the answer is different for every organization and it really depends on how you intend to approach the issue. However, many organizations will admit that they only perform a minimal amount of testing due to a shortage of time and resources.
At IR, we provide performance testing services to some of the largest banks, retailers, and enterprises in the world all the way down to the smallest businesses. Customers know the end result they are trying to achieve—we know which testing services and strategies will get them there.
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