If you are wondering whether your company’s website is all set to handle a large influx of traffic on the occasion of a product/website launch, encouraging visitors to register for an event, or perhaps just to handle a more-than-usual web traffic scenario, then load testing is an absolute necessity to keep your website running. When businesses do not pay heed to this piece of advice right at the beginning of the software development life cycle (SDLC), then there is every possibility of a huge cost (read loss) involved.
Hence, it becomes essential for businesses to define and understand the peak traffic condition and to assess the performance of their websites under both normal as well as peak conditions. Also, businesses need to determine the maximum operating capacity of the web application as part of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) to avoid website downtime and crashes in future. As companies moved from a brick-and-mortar era to a digital age, with the company’s website positioned as the digital kingdom, Load Testing emerged as the commonly used Performance Testing procedure to evaluate the stress taking capacity of the website. Load testing is carried out in a simulated environment wherein the company’s website is bombarded with incoming traffic to ensure it will continue to function normally in a scenario where the site is flooded with a lot of visitors. If the website fails to react normally to the surge in traffic during the testing process, then the issue can be resolved internally by making necessary adjustments or bulking up the servers and then making the site live.
One of the common misconceptions about Load Testing is that people believe it should be performed at the end of the SDLC. Hence they wait till the very last for the performance tests to be developed and run by some other company. However, in reality such a practice is just a precursor for last minute failures and the ensuing drama. A similar thing happened during the 2013 Chicago Marathon registration when the website crashed on the day of the registration due a deluge of traffic onto the site. As a result, the marathon authorities terminated the contract with the firm that handled its registration process at that time.
Reasons why it makes sense to have the Load Testing done during the application development phase:
Determine the Application’s Behaviour under stress
To remain popular and profitable in the longer run, each website must perform optimally under varying traffic size and conditions. Hence, each enterprise must monitor the behaviour of its application under both normal and peak conditions. When load testing is performed as part of SDLC, it becomes easier for the business to determine the maximum operating capacity of the website before its deployment. Also, it can increase the operating capacity of the web application before its launch.
Identify the Performance Bottlenecks during demand phase
In addition to determining the maximum operating capacity of the website, load testing also helps testers to identify the bottlenecks affecting its performance. While performing load testing, the testers observe the behaviour of the software by increasing the number of users gradually. Hence, they can monitor memory, CPU, bandwidth, and network response time. They can further identify the additional resources required to maintain the maximum operating capacity of the website.
Simulate Real-Life User Load to assess maximum operating capacity
While performing load testing, testers simulate real-life user load. They assess the maximum operating capacity of the web application by using techniques like sending a large amount of traffic to web server, running multiple application simultaneously on the server, downloading multiple large files from the web at a time, and reading/writing data continuously from the hardware. Hence, they can easily determine the maximum operating capacity under real user conditions and environments.
Optimize Page Load Time for better user experience
The load speed of a website nowadays impacts its user experience and search engine ranking directly. But the loading speed of individual websites differs. Also, some web pages may take additional time to load under heavy website traffic. While performing load testing, the testers can identify the loading time of individual web pages under varying loads. Hence, the developers can increase the loading speed of web pages by repairing these performance issues identified during load testing.
Eliminate Website Downtime and Crashes
As noted earlier, website downtime affects an enterprises customers, clients and partners. Also, a company may lose thousands of dollars per minute due to website downtime. When load testing is performed as part of SDLC, it becomes easier for businesses to avoid system failure and website downtime in future. The load testing result further helps the business to deploy the web application efficiently by deciding the right hardware and software requirements and eliminating performance bottlenecks.
Avoid Cost of System Failure and Rework
When the performance issues and bottlenecks are identified during the development phase of the SDLC, it becomes easier for programmers to get the performance bottlenecks fixed without putting extra time and effort. But the developers have to put additional time and effort to fix the performance issues identified after deployment of the web application. Also, they will need some time to make the website functional after system failure or downtime. Hence, an enterprise must perform load testing as part of SDLC to avoid cost of website downtime and system failure in future.
Alon Girmonsky, CEO and Founder of Blaze Meter, a load testing services provider that claims to test up to 1 million concurrent users at a time believes that Load testing will be greatly used to the gauge the outcome any event that is carried out on the company website. This makes Load Testing one of the most logical testing processes, that helps to build a robust backend and ensure that the application does not give in when it is supposed to perform its best.