In the present business scenario, load testing is of utmost importance because it involves bringing traffic to a system and measuring how it performs under a given load. It often so happens that large amounts of traffic hit a site in a short span of time ultimately leading to the crashing down of the website. Load testing tools try to analyze how a site works when a heavy volume of users take various realistic actions. The basic idea is to confirm that the website is able to handle numerous concurrent users. The testing, if successful, gives a clear picture of the precise web application performance.
Just as users engage in different activities like discount ticket booking, checking out seasonal offers on e-commerce sites, posting comments on a blog and so on, a load test typically hits the site with similar activities carried out by virtual users in a realistic manner. The resulting test metrics are used to point out to the slow performing aspects of the site eventually paving the way for coding changes that ultimately improves the efficiency of the web application.
Metrics come in the form of response times experienced by the end user apart from other aspects. For instance, if the login process takes 3 seconds with 6 users and the same process takes about 50 seconds with 70 users, then the possible conclusion is that there are scalability issues with the web application. Eventually, the software team starts focusing on performance tuning.
Key Benefits of Load Testing
Now, before we move on to analyzing the components of load testing, here is a list of the most prominent benefits of this essential type of testing in the software industry.
- Reduces the risk of downtime
- Improves the quality of the deployment
- Identifies performance bottlenecks
- Increases customer satisfaction to a significant extent
- Offers reliable and real-time statistics to the developers
- Enhances the usefulness of the system benchmarks throughout SDLC
- Improves the scalability of the application
- Minimizes the risks related to performance requirements
- Reduces the costs of failure
- Optimizes the costs of both hardware and software through capacity metrics
- Reduces the risks associated with SLAs
- Supports performance tuning and, thereby, supports continuous process improvement
The Primary Components of Load Testing
Load Testing has four basic components, which also explain the way in which the testing is carried out. Here is a detailed analysis to help in the understanding of load testing and its significance.
Understanding of the Application Environment
As the very first and the basic component of load testing, the architecture of the physical and logical layers are figured out. Alongside, system documentations that point out to the bigger picture are also studied. Testers, in this stage, ask several questions to the project stakeholders to get an idea of the way the system will be used. Overall, the expectations of the developers, executives and the head of marketing from the particular application are accessed.
Devising a Load Test Plan Defining User Scenarios
A load test plan is created and it contains user types, user success criteria, business success metrics, system success criteria, test scenarios and volumes. While users can be of different types like administrators, buyers, etc., user success criteria determine their behavior to some extent. Again, test scenarios vary depending on the type of the user and they describe a series of possible actions that the users will take on the site.
Generating Load and Capturing Metrics with the Tools
Load Testing involves the use of a number of tools. Some of these tools are expensive and incorporate numerous features and are usually used for companies with a good budget and a dedicated testing team. Open source tools are free to download and configuring them requires advanced technical knowledge. Choosing the tool is a task that needs to be executed with care to derive the maximum benefits of load testing.
Analyzing the Performance Indicators
Load testing is not the same as analyzing page performance as many might consider it to be. In fact, the biggest difference lies in the fact that in page performance analysis, there are no users while in load testing, there are hundreds of them. Load testing has a separate list of metrics like Response times, Time to first byte, Time to last byte, Requests per second, Throughput and Error rate.
Thus, load testing is a crucial testing process making it imperative for businesses to think of investing higher on load testing for the business software application to be successful at the end of the day.