A Glance at Performance Testing: Essentials, Processes, and Best Practices

Software performance testing is that part of a software delivery cycle where it is vital to determine how a system will perform under various loads conditions.

The unique thing about Performance testing is that its motive is not to detect defects or bugs but instead measure performance in relation to requisite benchmarks and standards.

It helps developers identify and diagnose bottlenecks. Once bottlenecks are identified and mitigated, it’s possible to increase performance.

It’s a common notion to consider performance testing same as functional testing, but it’s not!

Generally, functional testing procedure focuses on individual functions of the software, which includes different domains like: interface testing, sanity testing, and unit testing.

At the end, it’s the testers who check to ensure that functions are carried out properly and serve their purpose.

But on the other hand, Performance testing tests the readiness and overall performance of the software and the hardware it runs on.

In the real-time environment, performance testing is typically conducted after functional testing.

As we know poor performance can drive users and customers away. But on the other hand, sound performance testing can immensely help in identifying areas for improvement and gain and retain customers at the same time.

So, let’s have a look at some of the important aspects of performance testing which all play an important role:

The first and foremost thing is to identify and test several performance aspects of the software under load.

By doing this, it will not only help in detecting bottlenecks but also other potential issues.

Let’s examine five of the most commonly tested metrics.

Load Testing: It is that procedure which inspects how a system performs when the workload increases. Generally, a workload can be referred as to the volume of transactions taking place, or the number of users working under normal working conditions. It also measures response time.

Soak Testing: Soak testing is a valuation of how the software performs over an extended period of time under a normal workload. However, it is often referred as endurance testing and is usually used to identify system problems, such as issues with database resource utilization or log file handles.

Scalability Testing: Scalability testing is a process of testing software performance under a measured increase in workload, or changes in resources like memory, under a stable workload.

Stress Testing: In this procedure, the main task is to check and analyze how a system would perform outside of normal working conditions.

For eg: How a system would perform when faced with more transactions or concurrent users than intended?

This not only helps to measure its stability but also it enables the developers to identify a breaking point. It also allows the developers to analyze how the software recovers from failure.

Spike Testing: Spike testing is a type of stress testing that deals with the software response when any specific software program is continually hit with large as well as a quick rise in load.

Proceeding Forward Step by Step

In a testing environment, most of the time is spent planning the test rather than running it. Thus, once the test procedure starts, most of the work is handled by the hardware.

However, once the results are generated, a tester needs to analyze the output.

So, now let’s examine the performance testing process step by step.

Identify the Test Environment

To get started, the first step is to identify the physical test environment including hardware and network configurations and to have a software set up at the same time. Thus by understanding the test environment and comparing it to the real-world conditions will be more accurate and provide better insights.

Planning and Designing Tests Scenarios

Next, you need to identify key scenarios based on the anticipated real-world use. Different users will generate different demands. It’s important to account for as many of them as possible by determining variability among representative users. Once variability is determined, it’s important to simulate the conditions and to test the performance correspondingly.

Configuring the Test Environment

In this phase, it’s usually the best time to revisit the test environment to set up the monitoring structure. This step is highly dependent on the software and hardware used, as well as other factors.

Execute and Gather Test Data

Once the test is set up, it’s the time for the hardware and software to carry out the rest of the process. Gathering requisite data and closely observing the test is highly vital at this point.

Extracting the Results

In a sense, the real work doesn’t begin until the performance test is completed. Once you’ve gathered data, you’ll need to analyze the results. Pay attention to bottlenecks, critical failures, and any abnormalities. Also, run the test again to ensure that the performance is consistent.

At the end, setting a baseline for user experience is really important. Performance data is vital. However, “how satisfied are the users?” is that question which should be of utmost priority. At the same time understanding how decreasing performance will detrimentally impact them is also crucial.

However, every time something is changed, it’s important to conduct another performance test to see if the results have improved. By doing so, it’s possible to incrementally improve and maximize the performance of the software and corresponding hardware.



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