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Tips for planning, conducting load tests on Web applications

It's critical to load test Web applications before they are released to the world. Here are a few things to help you plan load tests and make sure your applications perform and deliver in real-world scenarios.

It's critical to conduct load tests on Web applications before they are released to the world. Here are a few things...

to help you plan load tests and make sure your applications perform and deliver in real-world scenarios.

  • Do proper ground work and provide thorough effort prior to gathering resources. This will prevent you from having to complete too many cycles on the load test

  • Different business users from varied areas of the business have their own ideas about performance and the possible load the business may predict. So, be sure to discuss such things as response times, hits per second, acceptable error levels and expected numbers of concurrent users.

  • Focus on the main performance goals of a load test: stressing the application, testing the ability to support concurrent users, and monitoring performance as well as setting benchmarks that can be used to gauge future levels.

  • You must execute extensive tests and maintain reports to determine performance levels and the breaking points of an application with many available tools like Loadrunner or open source tool like OpenSTA.

  • Make sure that each single user case is optimized before going ahead with concurrency testing. Then try to test the application with concurrent users.

  • While using the load testing tool, try to create the same number virtual users as is expected to use the application. It's also important to keep in mind that simulated virtual users may not perform an activity that real users could perform.
    More information on load and performance tests
    Understanding performance, load and stress testing

    Testing Web applications for performance

    Tools, methods to test software more efficiently

    Software testing tools: How to interpret results from OpenSTA

  • See if your load testing tool allows you to set a delay time to represent the time that a user will spend on each screen prior to clicking or creating an event that changes screens. Alternatively, you can perform the scripts without any delay to represent super users that run through transactions faster than those who work slower than usual.

  • Take care that during the load test there are no changes in the environmental, hardware and software properties of the application. These factors are of great importance when you are setting benchmarks.

  • Try to have a representative from each area of development, such as coding, business logic and design, present for debugging and making changes. This will help to make sure that failures from the load test are correctly identified and assigned to the correct owner.

  • While planning your load tests, try to make sure that the load test parameters are flexible enough to take care of the dynamic nature of Internet applications where various factors keep changing the level of performance.

  • Lastly, have a defined process for test failures. You must have a plan to escalate the problems faced, get them communicated to the proper stakeholders and get them resolved appropriately.

This was last published in July 2007

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