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How to become an expert in performance testing

Hi,

I have been doing performance testing for the past nine months(not a long period) and I find it quite interesting and challenging. As of now I have done testing using LoadRunner and QALoad. My dream is to become an expert in performance testing.

Could you please guide me on how can I achieve my goal? Could you tell me what a beginner should follow to make a strong base?

Regards and thanks.

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Suman, first let me congratulate you on your dream. Performance testing is a fascinating specialty, and yet for some reason not many testers seem to gravitate to it. I've always found performance testing to be challenging, interesting and rewarding.

How can you become an expert in performance testing? The first step, as always, is to gain experience. If your company has no formal performance test organization, volunteer to set one up. If you have an organization, talk to that team's leadership and ask how you can become involved. If you can't find opportunity at work during the normal workday, ask your management if you could work overtime or even off the clock, implementing performance tests on customer or even internal applications.

Next step is to read everything you can about the subject. There are a number of books available. Scott Barber has a fantastic (albeit somewhat dated) book on performance testing Java Web applications. Microsoft Press released a book that isn't specific to the Windows platform, which is available in PDF format on Codeplex. In addition, there are a number of blogs and websites dedicated to this science, so pick a few of your favorites and be an active participant on each. Read, comment, and (as you develop your skills) provide answers.

If you have the opportunity to take formal training, do so. Even if you can't find any performance-specific classes, you can take training for specific performance test tools like LoadRunner or such. These courses will focus on the tool, but you'll learn general principles of performance testing at the same time.

Finally (this goes back to the first point), set up your own server, build a simple application, download an open source or trial version load tool, and test it yourself. Start monitoring at the client and on the server, looking at performance metrics. Find bottlenecks on the server (RAM, CPU, disk I/O, etc.) by monitoring the server in Performance Monitor (perfmon) on Windows. With trial and error, you can start to learn what works well and what doesn't.

One thing I do not recommend doing is using a load testing tool against a commercial website. This is just about as bad as learning security testing by trying to hack Google. It'll just get you blacklisted.

With exposure, reading, training and practice, you'll quickly come up to speed. Performance testing isn't just a fascinating niche to work in, it's also highly lucrative. The demand for experienced performance testers will always be higher than the supply.

This was first published in January 2009

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