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Testing types, performance testing steps, best practices, and more

The Ultimate Guide to Performance Testing and Software Testing: Testing Types, Performance Testing Steps, Best Practices, and More
By Angela Stringfellow

Performance testing is a form of software testing that focuses on how a system running the system performs under a particular load. This is not about finding software bugs or defects. Performance testing measures according to benchmarks and standards. Performance testing should give developers the diagnostic information they need to eliminate bottlenecks.

Types of performance testing for software
To understand how software will perform on users' systems, there different types of performance tests that can be applied during software testing. This is non-functional testing, which is designed to determine the readiness of a system. (Functional testing focuses on individual functions of software.)

Testing Types

Image credit MindsMapped

Load testing
Load testing
measures system performance as the workload increases. That workload could mean concurrent users or transactions.The system is monitored to measure response time and system staying power as workload increases. That workload falls within the parameters of normal working conditions.

Stress testing
Unlike load testing, stress testing - also known as fatigue testing - is meant to measure system performance outside of the parameters of normal working conditions. The software is given more users or transactions that can be handled. The goal of stress testing is to measure the software stability. At what point does software fail, and how does the software recover from failure?

Spike testing
Spike testing is a type of stress testing that evaluates software performance when workloads are substantially increased quickly and repeatedly. The workload is beyond normal expectations for short amounts of time.

Endurance testing
Endurance testing - also known as soak testing - is an evaluation of how software performs with a normal workload over an extended amount of time. The goal of endurance testing is to check for system problems such as memory leaks. (A memory leak occurs when a system fails to release discarded memory. The memory leak can impair system performance or cause it to fail.)

Scalability testing
Scalability testing is used to determine if software is effectively handling increasing workloads. This can be determined by gradually adding to the user load or data volume while monitoring system performance. Also, the workload may stay at the same level while resources such as CPUs and memory are changed.

Volume testing
Volume testing determines how efficiently software performs with a large, projected amounts of data. It is also known as flood testing because the test floods the system with data.

Most Common Problems Observed in Performance Testing
During performance testing of software, developers are looking for performance symptoms and issues. Speed issues - slow responses and long load times for example - often are observed and addressed. But there are other performance problems that can be observed:

  • Bottlenecking - This occurs when data flow is interrupted or halted because there is not enough capacity to handle the workload.
  • Poor scalability - If software cannot handle the desired number of concurrent tasks, results could be delayed, errors could increase, or other unexpected behavior could happen that affects:
    • Disk usage
    • CPU usage
    • Memory leaks
    • Operating system limitations
    • Poor network configuration
  • Software configuration issues - Often settings are not set at a sufficient level to handle the workload.
  • Insufficient hardware resources - Performance testing may reveal physical memory constraints or low-performing CPUs.

Seven Performance Testing Steps

Performance Testing Process

Image credit Gateway TestLabs

Also known as the test bed, a testing environment is where software, hardware, and networks are set up to execute performance tests. To use a testing environment for performance testing, developers can use these seven steps:

1. Identify the testing environment.
Identify the hardware, software, network configurations and tools available allows the testing team design the test and identify performance testing challenges early. Performance testing environment options include:

  • Subset of production system with fewer servers of lower specification
  • Subset of production system with fewer servers of the same specification
  • Replica of productions system
  • Actual production system

2. Identify performance metrics.
In addition to identifying metrics such as response time, throughput and constraints, identify what are the success criteria for performance testing.

3. Plan and design performance tests.
Identify performance test scenarios that take into account user variability, test data, and target metrics. This will create one or two models.

4. Configure the test environment.
Prepare the elements of the test environment and instruments needed to monitor resources.

5. Implement your test design.
Develop the tests.

6. Execute tests.
In addition to running the performance tests, monitor and capture the data generated.

7. Analyze, report, retest.
Analyze the data and share the findings. Run the performance tests again using the same parameters and different parameters.

What Performance Testing Metrics are Measured
Metrics are needed to understand the quality and effectiveness
of performance testing. Improvements cannot be made unless there are measurements. There are two definitions that need to be explained:

  • Measurements - The data being collected such as the seconds it takes to respond to a request.
  • Metrics - A calculation that uses measurements to define the quality of results such as average response time (total response time/requests).

There are many ways to measure speed, scalability, and stability but each round of performance testing cannot be expected to use all of them. Among the metrics used in performance testing, the following often are used:

Response time
Total time to send a request and get a response.

Wait time
Also known as average latency, this tells developers how long it takes to receive the first byte after a request is sent.

Average load time
The average amount of time it takes to deliver every request is a major indicator of quality from a user's perspective.

Peak response time
This is the measurement of the longest amount of time it takes to fulfill a request. A peak response time that is significantly longer than average may indicate an anomaly that will create problems.

Error rate
This calculation is a percentage of requests resulting in errors compared to all requests. These errors usually occur when the load exceeds capacity.

Concurrent users
This the most common measure of load - how many active users at any point. Also known as load size.

Requests per second
How many requests are handled.

Transactions passed/failed
A measurement of the total numbers of successful or unsuccessful requests.

Throughput
Measured by kilobytes per second, throughput shows the amount of bandwidth used during the test.

CPU utilization
How much time the CPU needs to process requests.

Memory utilization
How much memory is needed to process the request.

Performance Testing Best Practices
Perhaps the most important tip for performance testing is testing early, test often. A single test will not tell developers all they need to know. Successful performance testing is a collection of repeated and smaller tests:

  • Test as early as possible in development. Do not wait and rush performance testing as the project winds down.
  • Performance testing isn't just for completed projects. There is value in testing individual units or modules.
  • Conduct multiple performance tests to ensure consistent findings and determine metrics averages.
  • Applications often involve multiple systems such as databases, servers, and services. Test the individual units separately as well as together.

Testing Lifecycle

Image credit Varun Kapaganty

In addition to repeated testing, performance testing will be more successful by following a series of performance testing best practices:

  • Involve developers, IT and testers in creating a performance testing environment.
  • Remember real people will be using the software that is undergoing performance testing. Determine how the results will affect users not just test environment servers.
  • Go beyond performance test parameters. Develop a model by planning a test environment that takes into account as much user activity as possible.
  • Baseline measurements provide a starting point for determining success or failure.
  • Performance tests are best conducted in test environments that are as close to the production systems as possible.
  • Isolate the performance test environment from the environment used for quality assurance testing.
  • No performance testing tool will do everything needed. And limited resources may restrict choice even further. Research performance testing tools for the right fit.
  • Keep the test environment as consistent as possible.
  • Calculating averages will deliver actionable metrics. There is value in tracking outliers also. Those extreme measurements could reveal possible failures.
  • Consider the audience when preparing reports that share performance testing findings. Also, include any system and software changes in reports.

Five common performance testing mistakes
There are also some mistakes that can lead to less-than-reliable results when performance testing:

  1. Not enough time for testing.
  2. Not involving developers.
  3. Not using QA system similar to production system.
  4. Not sufficiently tuning software.
  5. Not having a troubleshooting plan.

Performance Testing Fallacies
Performance testing fallacies can lead to mistakes or failure to follow performance testing best practices. According to Sofia Palamarchuk, these beliefs can cost significant money and resources when developing software:

Performance testing is the last step in development.
As mentioned in the section on performance testing best practices, anticipating and solving performance issues should be an early part of software development. Implementing solutions early will less costly than major fixes at the end of software development.

More hardware can fix performance issues.
Adding processors, servers or memory simply adds to the cost without solving any problems. More efficient software will run better and avoid potential problems that can occur even when hardware is increased or upgraded.

The testing environment is close enough.
Conducting performance testing in a test environment that is similar to the production environment is a performance testing best practice for a reason. The differences between the elements can significantly affect system performance. It may not be possible to conduct performance testing in the exact production environment, but try to match:

Software Development Lifecycle

  • Hardware components
  • Operating system and settings
  • Other applications used on the system
  • Databases

What works now, works across the board.
Be careful about extrapolating results. Don't take the small set of performance testing results and assume that they will be the same when elements change. Also, it works in the opposite direction. Do not infer minimum performance and requirements based upon load testing. All assumptions should be verified through performance testing.

One performance testing scenario is enough.
Not every performance problem can be detected in one performance testing scenario. But resources do limit the amount of testing that can happen. In the middle are a series of performance tests that target the riskiest situations and have the greatest impact on performance. Also, problems can arise outside of well-planned and well-designed performance testing. Monitoring the production environment also can detect performance issues.

Testing each part equals testing the whole system.
While it is important to isolate functions for performance testing, the individual component test results do not add up to a system-wide assessment. But it may not be feasible to test all the functionalities of a system. A complete-as-possible performance test must be designed using the resources available. But be aware of what has not been tested.

What works for them, works for us.
If a given set of users does experience complications or performance issues, do not consider that a performance test for all users. Use performance testing to make sure the platform and configurations work as expected.

Software developers are too experienced to need performance testing.
Lack of experience is not the only reason behind performance issues. Mistakes are made - even by developers who have created issue-free software in the past. Many more variables come into play - especially when multiple concurrent users are in the system.

A full load test tells everything.
It's tempting to just run a test at the total load to find all the performance issues. Except for that kind of test tends to reveal so many performance issues that it's hard to focus on individual solutions. Starting at a lower load and scaling up incrementally may seem like an unnecessarily slow process, but it produces easier results that are more efficient to troubleshoot.

Test scripts are actual users.
Make sure the test automations are using the software in ways that real users would. This is especially important when performance test parameters are changed.

Additional Resources on Performance Testing

The post The Ultimate Guide to Performance Testing and Software Testing: Testing Types, Performance Testing Steps, Best Practices, and More appeared first on Stackify.

@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, and is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.

DevOps at Cloud Expo / @ThingsExpo 2017 New York 
(June 6-8, 2017, Javits Center, Manhattan)

DevOps at Cloud Expo / @ThingsExpo 2017 Silicon Valley
(October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA)

Download Show Prospectus ▸ Here

The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.

@DevOpsSummit will expand the DevOps community, enable a wide sharing of knowledge, and educate delegates and technology providers alike. Recent research has shown that DevOps dramatically reduces development time, the amount of enterprise IT professionals put out fires, and support time generally. Time spent on infrastructure development is significantly increased, and DevOps practitioners report more software releases and higher quality. Sponsors of @DevOpsSummit will benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities through:

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For more information on sponsorship, exhibit, and keynote opportunities, contact Carmen Gonzalez by email at events (at) sys-con.com, or by phone 201 802-3021.

The World's Largest "Cloud Digital Transformation" Event

@CloudExpo / @ThingsExpo 2017 New York 
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@CloudExpo / @ThingsExpo 2017 Silicon Valley
(Oct. 31 - Nov. 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA)

Full Conference Registration Gold Pass and Exhibit Hall ▸ Here

Register For @CloudExpo ▸ Here via EventBrite

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Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsors of Cloud Expo @ThingsExpo will benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities through:

  • Featured on-site presentation and ongoing on-demand webcast exposure to a captive audience of industry decision-makers
  • Showcase exhibition during our new extended dedicated expo hours
  • Breakout Session Priority scheduling for Sponsors that have been guaranteed a 35 minute technical session
  • Online targeted advertising in SYS-CON's i-Technology Publications
  • Capitalize on our Comprehensive Marketing efforts leading up to the show with print mailings, e-newsletters and extensive online media coverage
  • Unprecedented Marketing Coverage: Editorial Coverage on ITweetup to over 100,000 plus followers, press releases sent on major wire services to over 500 industry analysts

For more information on sponsorship, exhibit, and keynote opportunities, contact Carmen Gonzalez (@GonzalezCarmen) today by email at events (at) sys-con.com, or by phone 201 802-3021.

Secrets of Sponsors and Exhibitors ▸ Here
Secrets of Cloud Expo Speakers ▸ Here

All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.

With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo@ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.

Track 1. FinTech
Track 2. Enterprise Cloud | Digital Transformation
Track 3. DevOps, Containers & Microservices 
Track 4. Big Data | Analytics
Track 5. Industrial IoT
Track 6. IoT Dev & Deploy | Mobility
Track 7. APIs | Cloud Security
Track 8. AI | ML | DL | Cognitive Computing

Delegates to Cloud Expo @ThingsExpo will be able to attend 8 simultaneous, information-packed education tracks.

There are over 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content.

Join Cloud Expo @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA for three days of intense Enterprise Cloud and 'Digital Transformation' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indispensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and (IIoT) Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) Digital Transformation in Vertical Markets.

Financial Technology - or FinTech - Is Now Part of the @CloudExpo Program!

Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo @ThingsExpo June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech, which will incorporate machine learning, artificial intelligence, deep learning, and blockchain into one track.

Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expensive intermediate processes from their businesses.

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More than US$20 billion in venture capital is being invested in FinTech this year. @CloudExpo is pleased to bring you the latest FinTech developments as an integral part of our program, starting at the 20th International Cloud Expo June 6-8, 2017 in New York City and October 31 - November 2, 2017 in Silicon Valley.

@CloudExpo is accepting submissions for this new track, so please visit www.CloudComputingExpo.com for the latest information.

Speaking Opportunities

The upcoming 20th International @CloudExpo@ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA announces that its Call For Papers for speaking opportunities is open.

Submit your speaking proposal today! ▸ Here

Our Top 100 Sponsors and the Leading "Digital Transformation" Companies

(ISC)2, 24Notion (Bronze Sponsor), 910Telecom, Accelertite (Gold Sponsor), Addteq, Adobe (Bronze Sponsor), Aeroybyte, Alert Logic, Anexia, AppNeta, Avere Systems, BMC Software (Silver Sponsor), Bsquare Corporation (Silver Sponsor), BZ Media (Media Sponsor), Catchpoint Systems (Silver Sponsor), CDS Global Cloud, Cemware, Chetu Inc., China Unicom, Cloud Raxak, CloudBerry (Media Sponsor), Cloudbric, Coalfire Systems, CollabNet, Inc. (Silver Sponsor), Column Technologies, Commvault (Bronze Sponsor), Connect2.me, ContentMX (Bronze Sponsor), CrowdReviews (Media Sponsor) CyberTrend (Media Sponsor), DataCenterDynamics (Media Sponsor), Delaplex, DICE (Bronze Sponsor), EastBanc Technologies, eCube Systems, Embotics, Enzu Inc., Ericsson (Gold Sponsor), FalconStor, Formation Data Systems, Fusion, Hanu Software, HGST, Inc. (Bronze Sponsor), Hitrons Solutions, IBM BlueBox, IBM Bluemix, IBM Cloud (Platinum Sponsor), IBM Cloud Data Services/Cloudant (Platinum Sponsor), IBM DevOps (Platinum Sponsor), iDevices, Industrial Internet of Things Consortium (Association Sponsor), Impinger Technologies, Interface Masters, Intel (Keynote Sponsor), Interoute (Bronze Sponsor), IQP Corporation, Isomorphic Software, Japan IoT Consortium, Kintone Corporation (Bronze Sponsor), LeaseWeb USA, LinearHub, MangoApps, MathFreeOn, Men & Mice, MobiDev, New Relic, Inc. (Bronze Sponsor), New York Times, Niagara Networks, Numerex, NVIDIA Corporation (AI Session Sponsor), Object Management Group (Association Sponsor), On The Avenue Marketing, Oracle MySQL, Peak10, Inc., Penta Security, Plasma Corporation, Pulzze Systems, Pythian (Bronze Sponsor), Cosmos, RackN, ReadyTalk (Silver Sponsor), Roma Software, Roundee.io, Secure Channels Inc., SD Times (Media Sponsor), SoftLayer (Platinum Sponsor), SoftNet Solutions, Solinea Inc., SpeedyCloud, SSLGURU LLC, StarNet, Stratoscale, Streamliner, SuperAdmins, TechTarget (Media Sponsor), TelecomReseller (Media Sponsor), Tintri (Welcome Reception Sponsor), TMCnet (Media Sponsor), Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium, Veeam, Venafi, Violin Memory, VAI Software, Zerto

About SYS-CON Media & Events
SYS-CON Media (www.sys-con.com) has since 1994 been connecting technology companies and customers through a comprehensive content stream - featuring over forty focused subject areas, from Cloud Computing to Web Security - interwoven with market-leading full-scale conferences produced by SYS-CON Events. The company's internationally recognized brands include among others Cloud Expo® (@CloudExpo), Big Data Expo® (@BigDataExpo), DevOps Summit (@DevOpsSummit), @ThingsExpo® (@ThingsExpo), Containers Expo (@ContainersExpo) and Microservices Expo (@MicroservicesE).

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