Performance testing helps us to test how our system behaves under heavy traffic. Before launching our website or application, we tend to test out the page speed, scalability issues, ensuring that back-end servers are capable enough to handle and manage high traffic levels.
While we already know performance testing is an important part of the software testing life cycle, it can only be 100 percent useful if done right. In this article we will understand the benefits of the Agile process with load testing. The idea behind agile load testing is to start stress testing our application from the beginning of the testing sprint and not at the later stage. This way we would be able to stress test application sprint by sprint and if any system degradation occurs, we can pinpoint the exact changes which have affected the application performance. This helps immensely to solve the problem initially rather than delaying and looking for fixes during the final stages of product release rollout.
Before we start explaining the agile load test planning let’s briefly look at Agile methodology:
What is the Agile Process?
According to the Agile Alliance, agile means “The ability to create and respond to change in order to succeed in an uncertain and turbulent environment.” This is really important while building software applications, as it is inherently unpredictable. Agile Software Development is an “catch-all” term used to describe a set of methods and practices to deliver a product which gets values by the customer. At the very center of the Agile methodology, self organizing and cross functional teams use relevant practices to develop solutions which get used by the mass.
When we hear about the agile methodology, we hear words like Scrum, Sprint, Backlog, User Stories, etc. A sprint, which is also known as iteration, is a short (ideally two or four weeks) period in which the development team delivers a product increment. As soon as a sprint ends, a new sprint starts with a new set of stories to develop and test.
What is Agile Performance Testing?
As software development has evolved over time, many companies have moved away from waterfall models to agile approaches. With development being carried out in an iterative manner, testing also has evolved in agile environments. Testing and signing off features only functional standpoint is helpful and can have major repercussions later on. For the test to be done end to end, we need the performance test to be part of each sprint, where the feature is marked ‘Done’ only when it passes functional test and performance tests.
Impact and Benefits of Performance Testing in Agile Environment
Over the last couple of years, we have seen performance testing in agile environments has helped the small startups immensely by developing a reliable product with positive user experience. Agile load testing provides following benefits at the development stage:
- Capacity Management: It helps to determine whether the current hardware is powerful enough to handle expected traffic. It saves a ton of money spent on expensive AWS and GCP servers and determines for each application what size and capacity of server is required.
- Speed of testing: Mimicking multiple user paths/scenarios and testing the reaction of those paths within multiple situations is the core idea of performance testing. All the major flow and user journeys help to narrow down the unknown cases in applications.
- Increasing Team Efficiency: Thanks to the detailed planning and huge amount of collaboration in agile, the entire development process becomes faster and more efficient. With the performance testing part of sprint, any major issues get fixed during the early stage of development.
- Competitive Advantage: Modern customers have very low tolerance of bugs and performance issues. In order to have a higher retention rate and lesser support tickets, performance tests provide competitive advantage to the company.
Performance Testing Activities
Below are the key types of performance testing activities required to be part of Agile methodology should be run with each passing sprint:
- Load testing: This load test tries to emulate hundreds or thousands of users on websites or applications and checks how the system behaves with such traffic loads. LoadView provides a REST API load test or web page load test which can help to run the load test during a sprint.
- Stress testing: Stress testing is done to check the limits of any system, at the most extreme levels, in a very stressful environment. This helps to understand while going above the threshold limit, which part of the system is vulnerable to break and does the system revert to normal after being under such heavy stress testing.
- Regression performance testing: We have tested the application after each sprint, but this is to validate if any recent changes in source code has impacted the application performance in any way. This helps to monitor the performance with each additional sprint, to understand if recent changes have caused any degradation to systems. For regression performance testing, we can integrate performance tests with our CI/CD delivery.
After we have tested and validated the application from a performance standpoint, we move to the final stage which is rollout to production and monitoring the application with real traffic. After our application goes into production, we have to ensure that everything continues to run smoothly for users. Dotcom-Monitor offers multiple monitoring solutions to ensure our pages and applications continue to perform and function properly. Below are the key monitoring tools provided by Dotcom-Monitor helping us to track our application in production:
- Web Services Monitoring: Uptime and performance of web services, such as HTTP/S, SOAP/REST, and more.
- Web Page Monitoring: Web page performance in real browsers, identifying slowest and fastest elements over time.
- Web Application Monitoring: Monitor complex web applications, like AJAX, PHP, Ruby, Flash, and more.
- Infrastructure Monitoring: Functionality and performance of Internet Servers and Protocols, such as HTTP/S, email, streaming media, VoIP, and more.
The solutions within the Dotcom-Monitor platform allow us to set up ongoing monitoring based upon custom thresholds, and helping with sending alerts to specific individuals or support teams when any error occurs on production so that it gets fixed before potentially impacting multiple sets of users.
Conclusion: Load Testing in the Agile Process
Continuous performance testing during sprint helps to improve application quality with reduced cycle times in agile environments. This can be achieved by using performance tests as part of our Continuous Integration and having capability to run the load tests with each passing sprint. By incorporating smaller teams, companies are able to communicate more efficiently and effectively, thereby providing quicker turnaround times and the ability to completely test software through full testing cycles.
LoadView gives developer and engineers the ability to carry out performance tests in real-world scenarios, ensuring websites and applications can stand up to the demands of users and customers. Sign up for LoadView trial today and get $20 in load testing credits to start!
Also, LoadView integrates with the Dotcom-Monitor monitoring platform. Use the LoadView scripts to monitor your websites and applications in production. Learn more.