Load Testing - Fourteen key topics to address when choosing a provider.

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Key topics to address before embarking on load testing

Business and technical success when load and performance testing depends on three main things:

  • Ensuring the objectives set will offers real-value.
  • Careful assessment and planning of activities that will meet these objectives,
  • Rigorous disciplined execution and analysis.

These things can only be achieved when the parties involved understand the challenges, ensure the right capabilities are in-place and recognise who is responsible for each element. As a precursor to load and performance testing you should consider the fourteen points below to assess whether you are set for success.

1. Defining the load

Who will work out what patterns and levels of load will provide you with meaningful performance predictions? How will they do it?

2. Setting the limits

How far should the system be pushed to see if it breaks? In which direction should it be pushed? Who can determine this?

3. What affects the user?

Do you know what response times and other characteristics really impact the experience, effectiveness and value of the system? How can these be identified? How are the tolerable ranges to be worked out?

4. Performance, reliability or both?

What is important performance, reliability or are they equally as important?

5. Where is the risk?

Where are the weak points of the system likely to be? Who is going to sit down and find out what these are?

6. Will the tests be effective?

To what extent will tests be tailored accurately target business and technical risk as opposed to being simplistic usage scenarios? Will testing simulate with internally generated activity? Will testing simulate activity triggered by external systems as well as users? Will the testing be layered?

7. Test data

How much data do you need to get into the system before you can start to trust the results? Where does it come from? Who is going to get it there? How long will that take?

8. The Test Rig

How representative does the test platform need to be? What about scale? Where are you going to test? What about other systems interworking with yours? Will any simulators be required?

9. Timing

How much time should be allowed for getting the tests to work? How long for building the test rig? How long for testing? How long for fixing? What is the latest that can possibly start? When should it really start?

10. Creating the load

Where does the kit used to generate the load come from? Who is going to set it up? How does it connect to the system being tested? Is there enough bandwidth?

11. Running the system

Who will maintain and operate the system during between test runs? Who will do it out of hours?

12. Health monitoring

Who is monitoring what when the system is under test? Who decides what needs to be monitored? Who will set it up?

13. Dealing with issues

When thing go wrong what is going to happen? Who will ensure issues are tracked and resolved? Who will reproduce the problem? Who will diagnose the problem? What happens when a possible fix has been prepared?

14. Once it is live

Once it as gone live and we need to change things what do we do? How is that safe? Do we have to start from scratch again?