Introduction

The performance of software, application, or website determines users’ response to it. If an application cannot successfully handle multiple users accessing it simultaneously, user experience can take a big hit. Solving this issue begins with identifying the extent of it first. This is done by testers using a method called load testing.

Some extremely popular sites have suffered serious downtimes when they get massive traffic volumes. E-commerce websites invest heavily in advertising campaigns, but not in Load Testing to ensure optimal system performance when that marketing brings in traffic.

In this article let us look at:

  1. What is Load Testing?
  2. Purpose of Load Testing
  3. Types of Load Testing
  4. How to Perform Load Testing
  5. Examples of Load Testing
  6. Tools Used for Load Testing

1. What is Load Testing?

Load testing in software testing is a non-functional testing methodology that is used commonly to measure the performance of web-based applications, client systems or servers, etc. The test measures the operating capacity of the application when its user traffic is at high volumes. 

One of the main benefits of load testing is that it allows the developers and testers to determine if the current infrastructure of the application is capable of running the application during peak user load. While a stress test measures the maximum limit at which the system shuts down under stress, a load test determines the operational capacity of an application when there are a high number of concurrent users.

2. Purpose of Load Testing

Load testing is a part of performance testing and as such carries a lot of significance. Here are some of the reasons why load testing is important:

  • It identifies the maximum capacity at which an application can operate
  • Tests the ability of the existing infrastructure to handle the operations of the application
  • Recognizes if the application can sustain when at peak user load
  • Measures the scalability of the application in terms of the total number of users that the application can support concurrently
  • It identifies any bottlenecks in the performance through test scenarios in the production environment
  • It allows developers the opportunity to set complementary strategies in place to ensure peak performance

3. Types of Load Testing

Load testing can be performed using various methods. The different types of load testing are:

A) Manual Testing

Manual load testing can be expensive as it takes a lot of manpower. It also cannot generate enough stress on the application, so it isn’t very effective.

B) In-House Tools

Companies can develop their load testing tools and perform load testing on their applications using these.

C) Opensource Tools

There are free load testing tools out there but they aren’t as effective as the licensed tools. Tools like Jmeter are available free of charge and are commonly used for less elaborate load tests.

D) Enterprise or Licensed Tools

Licensed load testing tools allow testers to perform load testing on different types of applications such as CRM, ERP, Streaming Media, etc. since they can support several protocols. They are also capable of mimicking some virtual users creating the ideal environment for a load test.

4. How to Perform Load Testing

Here are the steps followed during a load testing procedure. 

– Set up the test Environment

The first step of load testing is setting up a test environment that matches the production environment as closely as possible. This involves gathering load testing equipment such as hardware, software, and network specifications.

– Define the criteria for Performance

It is important to know what are the parameters measured during the load test and set the success criteria in place. Arrive at a consensus on the acceptable limit for response time, transaction time, throughput, etc.

– Plan the Test

Designing and planning the test is essential for a seamless procedure. This step involves planning the test and setting up the environment accordingly.

– Create Virtual Users

In this step, virtual user (vs user) scripts are created that contain the tasks to be performed by each virtual user. Each task performed is measured as a transaction.

– Create Scenarios

Create scenarios that you want to run a load test for using the machines, users, and scripts.

– Run the Scenarios

Set the configuration and schedule for the scenario and run multiple users simultaneously to mimic load on the application.

– Monitor the Scenario

Monitor the scenario and collect the various metrics necessary to determine the result of the load test. In licensed tools, you can monitor the scenario using online monitors.

– Analyze the Test Results

Analyze the metrics to identify any bottlenecks in the performance of the application. Another load test will need to be run after the issues identified are fixed.

5. Examples of Load Testing

These are some of the important load test scenario examples that relay the importance of load testing.

  • An airline website has a promotion period during which it anticipates over 10000 users at a time. Load testing the website for potential bottlenecks becomes essential before the launch of the flight promotion to avoid loss of revenue.
  • A government web portal will see a sharp rise in traffic during the days when the date for filing income tax returns has been announced. Evaluating the website before the date is important to prevent performance snags.
  • A company’s website performance can be tested by creating a scenario where a huge volume of large files is downloaded simultaneously.
  • Various jobs are requested on the printer queue simultaneously.
  •  Concurrent requests are run on the server by multiple users resulting in high user traffic.

6. Tools Used for Load Testing

There are several load testing tools available out there. Testers need to evaluate essential parameters for their application before selecting the right tool. Factors to considers maybe, ease of use, accuracy, scalability, integrations, etc. Here is a list of load testing tools that are popular:

A) Load Ninja

Load Ninja is a cloud-based load testing tool that can cut load testing time by over 60%. The tool allows testers to record the test scripts and instantly play them back, without correlation.

B) Load Runner

This HP product can be used to test applications at peak and normal conditions. It can create thousands of virtual users to mimic network traffic. Testers can get real-time usage, like in a production environment, and provides graphical results.  

C) NeoLoad

Designed for Agile and DevOps, this enterprise-grade tool integrates with the continuous delivery pipeline allowing performance testing throughout the software lifecycle. Testers can run load tests on individual components and throughout the system.

Here are some of the other load testing tools that are available:

  • Loadview
  • Apache Jmeter
  • Load Impact
  • Blazemeter
  • Octoperf

Conclusion

Load testing can recognize and allow the team to fix glaring bottlenecks in the system. These bottlenecks, when ignored, could lead to significant financial losses and a negative user experience. Investing resources and time in load testing can improve system performance and eliminate issues before the production stage.

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