What is Spike Testing?

As a form of non-functional testing, load testing is performed to measure the behaviour of a software application under both normal and peak user load conditions. Normally, load testing is performed by using a variety of loads – number of users accessing the application simultaneously and number of concurrent transactions. However, the testers perform different types of load tests to assess an application’s performance accurately. Load testing is very important, this blog helps us to understand the importance of load testing in SDLC.

Many QA testing professionals have this question: What is Spike Testing? Spike testing is a type of load testing. It is performed to determine application behaviour when there is sudden and unexpected rise or decline in user load. While performing spike testing, the testing professionals monitor and evaluate the performance of the application by increasing or decreasing user load in an unusual way. Also, this form of performance testing helps testers to assess weaknesses of an application.

Understanding Important Aspects of Spike Testing

Primary Objective

The primary objective of spike testing is to determine how an application behaves each time there is a sudden spike or decline in user load. The testers can measure the deterioration in an application’s performance when the user load increases suddenly and unexpectedly. At the same time, spike testing also helps testing professionals to measure the amount of time required by the application to recover. The testers even measure the time required by the application to become stable between two consecutive user load spikes. The testing results further help testers to minimize the recovery time and address the worst test scenarios like loading.

Different from Stress Testing

Often novice testers consider spike testing is an alternative to stress testing. But the two forms of performance testing differ from each other in terms of objective. While performing stress testing, the testers focus on identifying the breakpoint. They test the application with by increasing the user load beyond the expected load conditions. Spike testing helps testers to assess behaviour of application when there is sudden increase or decrease in user load. The testers increase user load suddenly and then decrease user load immediately while performing spike testing.

Testing Process

While performing spike testing, the testers need to increase the user load suddenly and then decrease the user load immediately. But they still need to follow six important steps in spike testing. Before performing spike testing, the testers need to determine the application’s maximum user load capacity and create a custom testing environment based on the performance parameters. After setting up the testing environment, the testers have to use a spike testing tool to apply the maximum user load to the application. They also need to keep increasing the user load consistently for certain duration, and then bring the user load down to normal level. The performance graph generated by the testing tool will help the testing professionals to measure test results based on important metrics like virtual users, time taken and failures.

Common Test Scenarios

Spike testing helps testers to identify and resolve issues caused by sudden increase or decline in user load. Hence, it becomes easier for testers to keep the application functional in the worst case scenarios. For instance, spike testing helps to make an eCommerce website deliver optimal user experience while conduction flash sales, during the holiday season, or while launching special deals. Likewise, spike testing also helps a web application perform optimally while streaming a hugely popular event/show or displaying viral content. Also, spike testing help businesses to popularize their new websites by delivering richer user experience despite being accessed by a large number of users simultaneously.

Important Recovery Scenarios

Spike testing helps in measuring an application’s behaviour when there is a sudden increase or decline in user load. It also helps businesses to take the steps required to handle spikes. An enterprise can easily overcome server resource constraints by deploying the application in the cloud. The cloud service providers will keep the application functional despite the spikes by providing additional computing resources proactively and dynamically. Likewise, the administrator of the website can display a message to convey the slow response time to users by displaying the appropriate message. Also, the administrator can prevent irrelevant users from accessing the website when the user load is high.

Test Automation Tools

While performing spike testing, the testers have to increase the user load unexpectedly and then decrease the user load immediately. Also, they need to repeat the stress testing process over certain duration. Hence, the testers need robust testing tools to perform spike testing efficiently and quickly. The developers can always accelerate spike testing by using open source tools like Loadrunner and Apache JMeter. They can use Loadrunner to perform spike testing of web applications on Windows and macOS platforms. Also, JMeter helps to assess overall performance of web applications by running a variety of performance tests including spike tests.

Testing Cost

Spike testing is considered to be more expensive than other software QA testing processes. The testing professionals have to execute spike tests under special test conditions. They can easily perform spike testing using a number of open source performance testing tools. But an enterprise has to invest additional resources to set up the special test conditions precisely. However, the initial investment will help the enterprise to generate higher ROI in the long run.

On the whole, spike testing is a form of performance testing which helps to assess the behaviour of an application when the user load increases or decreased unusually. The spike testing results help testing professionals to identify the performance issues created due to unusual increase in user load, determine the stability time, and reduce recovery time.

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