4 Things to Know About Continuous Performance Testing

Deepak Parmar
July 26, 2018

What is continuous performance testing and why should you care?

Continuous performance testing takes the concept of continuous testing and load/performance testing to ensure that hard to detect issues in performance and load handling are caught and fixed quickly.

Much has been written about how slow websites and applications cost businesses millions of dollars each year. See this infographic for instance about the power of a one-second delay . But it is not just websites that suffer from poor performance. There are critical business risks associated with performance lapses.

But what if you could pin-point performance issues and load-handling challenges much earlier in the development cycle? Wouldn’t it be ideal to know beforehand the impact of a change on your software’s performance?

Since a majority of DevOps teams have an active CI process, performance testing simply needs to be a step in the pipeline. Probably after regression testing but before deployment.

Unfortunately, performance testing is relegated on the back burner as an end of cycle exercise. Shifting performance tests left, by pushing them early and more often, helps increase the value of these tests.Here’s what you should know about continuous performance testing:

1. Coverage

Performance tests provide adequate coverage of major features and functions without diving deep. Thus, they can be run to cover a wide range of the common functions, quickly. If there is a functional bug, you will most likely find it, during performance testing. This is just an additional validation for your functional tests.

The combined power of functional and continuous performance tests is remarkable, finding bugs that could otherwise cause software failure.

2. End to End monitoring

With performance testing shifting left, that is beginning much earlier in the software development cycle, enterprises can address performance requirements right at the outset.

Performance testing goals must be aligned to business needs and real-world user scenarios. After agreeing upon the SLAs, everything falls in place from defining the test environments, test data, the tools to select. However, performance monitoring shouldn’t stop once the test have run. Risk mitigation is the vital component of performance testing. You need to ensure consistent end-user experience across multiple channels and platforms for scalaility and deploy a risk mitigation plan accordingly.

3. Maturity of performance automation

Performance tests are by and large, almost automated. It is difficult to run large levels of volume or load using manual methods. However, research shows that the level of performance test automation is not quite there.

As enterprise mobile and web apps grow increasingly complex, along with a rising volume of users, you need a more sophisticated approach to performance automation. Especially for mission-critical applications, base level performance testing is simply not enough.

Developing a fully automated performance regression and stress testing application is still a pipe dream for many teams. But it doesn’t have to be so.

4. Importance of Metrics

During performance testing of software, it is the variables or deviations in metrics that must be fully understood. It is important to understand the correlation between variables that cause the aberration. Many a times businesses have basic reports that show them green or red, that is performance is good or terrible. A better approach is to include several key metrics so users can observe trends and be prepared. Organizations can gain ‘leanness’ by continuously testing small, concurrent and repeatable tests.

The benefits of Agile and DevOps methods are now well known. By joining development and operations forces, and focusing on monitoring and automation businesses have started increasing the velocity and frequency of quality deployments. However, without continuous performance testing, this success could easily turn into failure.

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