Any software application should pass through functional and non-functional testing to ensure it satisfies business requirements and performance standards. Functional testing covers most of the functionalities, and include testing types such as black box testing, unit testing, integration testing, system testing, regression testing, smoke testing, and others. Non-functional testing, or performance testing, focuses on speed, stability, scalability, reliability, load capacity, and how your applications performance under stress.
Performance testing is further divided into two types – benchmark testing and baseline testing. These performance tests are done to ensure that all quality standards and SLA (Service Level Agreements) are met by all the applications of an organization. In this article, we will understand their importance, benefits, and important metrics to cover.
What is Benchmark Testing?
Benchmark testing compares performance testing results against performance metrics that are agreed upon in the organization based on different industry standards. It helps determine the quality standards of every software application that belonged to an organization. Benchmark testing covers software, hardware, and network performance. The goal for benchmark testing is to test all the current and future releases of an application to maintain high-quality standards.
Importance & Benefits of Benchmark Testing
Benchmark testing is essential for implementing quality standards as well as SLAs. It is repeatable and quantifiable to practically establish user experience and business standards for a software application. The following are some benefits of benchmark testing:
- Helps in performance analysis of a software application with competitors.
- Maintains user experience and availability.
- Ensures that all compliance and SLAs are met.
- It helps to evaluate third-party vendors’ evaluation.
- Ensure best practices are followed with measurable results.
What is Baseline Testing?
Baseline testing is a process of recording performance metrics of a software application when it undergoes performance testing. When the same application is updated, including software, hardware, network, and code changes, it again goes through performance testing, and new performance metrics results are compared with the previous performance metrics results. Performance metrics from every test are well-documented for future references. The overall goal for baseline testing is to maintain the consistent quality of a software application.
Importance & Benefits of Baseline Testing
Baseline testing is done for making sure that application performance is not degrading over time with new changes, and if it does, what are the measures to be taken so that it met the baseline performance. This ensures that user experience is intact in all test scenarios, and the scope of improvement is discovered. The following are some benefits that you get from performing baseline testing:
- Helps set a baseline for maintaining the software application performance.
- Identify bottlenecks for different performance metrics.
- Faster measurement of quality performance.
- Can be easily automated to increase tester efficiency.
- Helps in detecting configurations errors.
Differences between Benchmark & Basline Testing
While baseline and benchmark testing seem very much the same, the following are some points that clarify the difference between the two:
- Baseline Testing metrics are recorded after the applications undergo performance testing. Benchmark Testing metrics are often pre-established to evaluate the performance.
- Baseline Testing is specific to an individual software application. Benchmark Testing is often applicable to all the software applications belong to an organization.
- Baseline Testing is done from the application and user experience point of view. Benchmark testing is done from business and SLA point of view.
Phases of Benchmark Testing
While many teams follow the agile process for testing, it is best to follow a slightly different process for benchmark testing. The following are the standard testing phases for benchmark testing:
This phase includes identifying and defining standards and requirements for baseline and benchmark testing. Identifying what components within the system are the most critical to test regarding performance and user experience. A set of metrics is prepared for measuring the performance and outcomes.
This phase includes setting the goals and objectives and the error identification process and how to resolve them.
This phase includes the agreement between functional and non-functional requirements with business process approval and internal stakeholders.
This phase includes developing the test scenarios, executing the performance tests, measuring the performance, and calculating results.
Performance Metrics and Components
Performance testing emphasizes measuring various components and metrics. The below list comprises of some of the metrics that performance testers measure and review during, or after the test has completed.
- Load time
- Response time
- Wait time
- Peak response time
- Error rate
- Concurrent users
- Requests per second
- Transactions passed/failed
- Web server throughput
- CPU utilization
- Memory utilization
- Disk I/O
Components of Baseline and Benchmark Testing
For a successful baseline and benchmark testing, there are three major components that need to be specified correctly:
- Workload specification for determining request types and frequency.
- Metrics specification for determining the metrics that are to be measured.
- Measurement specification for determining how to get the correct values of specified metrics.
A few other things that you should consider while doing performance testing include the following:
- Maintain consistency and control over the testing process, metrics and benchmarks.
- Understand system architecture and test criteria thoroughly.
- Generate load using real-browsers and devices for accurate results.
- Simulate users from multiple geo-locations to create a more realistic scenario.
- Fine-tune your baseline and benchmarks by adjusting loads in real-time.
Benchmark Testing using LoadView
LoadView is a cloud-based performance testing tool that allows you to create virtually any test scenario with the point and click EveryStep Web Recorder scripting tool. The LoadView platform offers real browser-based testing, simulates popular desktop/mobile devices, and a multitude of geo-locations to simulate the most realistic performance testing environments.
For baseline/benchmark testing, you can set up your performance tests on LoadView in no time and utilize its load curve features to adjust the website/application load according to your requirements. Load curves are very useful to fine-tune the baseline and benchmark metrics. LoadView will then execute your tests and generate a detailed report with all the metrics you require to compare your results. LoadView performance reports contain out-of-the-box insights and easy to understand results. These performance reports can be saved for future comparison, and a baseline can be defined for repetitive comparison.
Advancements in Benchmark Testing Tools
As we advance through 2023, benchmark testing tools are evolving, integrating sophisticated technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). These advancements enhance LoadView’s capabilities, allowing for predictive analytics and intelligent anomaly detection. With these technologies, benchmark testing can now forecast performance trends and provide deeper insights, enabling organizations to stay ahead of potential issues before they impact user experience.
Deepening User Experience Insights in Benchmark Testing
The modern landscape of benchmark testing places a significant emphasis on user experience (UX). Benchmarking tools now aim not only to measure system performance but also to gauge user interaction with applications more intricately. This evolution is particularly beneficial in benchmark testing as it helps businesses understand how real users will perceive application performance in various scenarios, ensuring that performance benchmarks are aligned with user satisfaction and business objectives.
Incorporating Security into Benchmark Testing Protocols
Security concerns are becoming increasingly central to benchmark testing protocols. As applications are expected to operate securely without compromising performance, benchmark testing now often includes security performance metrics. This approach ensures that applications are not only fast and reliable but also resilient against cyber threats, providing a comprehensive view of application readiness.
Holistic Benchmark Testing for Comprehensive Performance Insights
In 2023, benchmark testing is adopting a more holistic approach. It’s not just about the application’s performance anymore; it’s about how the entire ecosystem performs under various conditions. This includes analyzing the impact of infrastructure, database performance, and third-party services, offering a comprehensive benchmark that accounts for all factors that influence the end-user experience.
Conclusion: Benchmark Testing vs. Baseline Testing Explained
Performance testing should be started early on and done before every new release to ensure your website/application behaves as expected under load conditions. Baseline and benchmark testing is used to ensure that your websites/applications deliver a consistently great experience. LoadView is a great tool to easily setup your tests and perform baseline and benchmark tests. You can leverage its multiple load curves and reporting features to measure different metrics and actionable insights.
Get started with LoadView today. Sign up for the free trial or schedule a demo with one of our performance engineers. They will happily walk you through all the aspects, features, and benefits of our load testing solution, ensuring you have everything you need to begin carrying out your benchmark and baseline performance tests.
Once you have thoroughly tested and tweaked your websites and applications to ensure they can handle the number of concurrent users you have planned for, the final step is to make sure your website and web applications are continually performing as you intended in the live production environment. This is important, because you and your teams have invested loads of time and effort in planning, developing, and testing your applications. Make sure performance and response times are always within your pre-defined thresholds by implementing automated monitoring. Set up alerts and get notified immediately when downtime or errors occur, reducing the risk of additional users being impacted by a poor user experience.