The software industry is littered with success stories about the killer app that reinvented the marketplace and made its creators rich. For every one of those happy endings, there are a healthy handful of sadder stories about the program with tons of potential that died a messy death as soon as its operators tried to scale it up. If you want to avoid this ignominious fate, load testing your software product will ensure that scalability doesn’t turn into its Achilles’ heel.
Load Testing Defined
Load testing is an attempt to test your software in a realistic usage environment. The goal is to accurately simulate what will happen when the software is subjected to normal use at high volume. There are countless tools available to this, and many types of software – such as web applications – can be properly tested using an off-the-shelf testing tool. Examples include Apache JMeter (desktop) and The Grinder (Java-based). Some products, though, require specialized (or even scratch-built) tools to model their “live” operating conditions.
Load testing can apply to any aspect of a program. The most common form of load testing today involves subjecting a piece of software to multiple user inputs; this is particularly vital for online software. Load testing also applies to your software’s capability to handle data, though. You need to verify that your program will accept your expected volume of input without choking.
The Blurred Line Between Load And Stress Testing
There used to be a sharp distinction between load testing and stress testing. As noted above, load testing is shows how your software performs under expected conditions. Stress testing is intended to push your software to its breaking point. Sometimes the same testing tool can serve both functions, but many are designed exclusively for one or the other. This is why a multi-tool testing platform (like Taurus) may be useful for organizing your testing procedures.
In today’s programming market, you’re always hoping that the new software you’re developing will turn into the next Uber or Instagram. If you’re being optimistic, you’re not going to set an upper bound on the number of users or the volume of data you anticipate. Thus modern load testing often expands towards – or even becomes – a form of stress testing.
What Proper Load Testing Reveals
Good load testing does more than simply confirm that your software will work as intended. With the right tools, you can measure your program’s performance as it approaches or exceeds anticipated loads. Response times, resource utilization, and efficiency can – and should – be measured during load testing. Full load testing will also discriminate between “steady” loads and “peak state” loads; showing what your software is capable of sustaining in both the long and the short term.
The benefit of load testing is that it will illuminate the limitations your software is going to face once it goes live. You can identify processes that serve to bottleneck the program as load increases; these can be addressed through design refinements to minimize their impact. You’ll also get a better understanding of how resource consumption changes with increasing loads; this information will be vital when you formulate plans to keep pace with an expanding user base.
To get the most comprehensive results, it may be smart to outsource your testing requirements to a specialized team. Many firms have capitalized on their testing expertise to deliver more far-reaching and informative results than you can develop in-house. If you’re hoping for your software to expand to the largest scales, investing in an experienced testing team can be invaluable.
Every software product should receive at least some form of load testing before it’s introduced to the public. The more careful and thorough you are during this process, the better prepared you’ll be for rapid expansion. Comprehensive load testing is the best – if not the only – way to make sure your software is ready to grow.