Benchmark Testing Explained: Boost Your Software’s Performance

All software applications need to undergo both functional and non-functional testing to verify their compliance with business requirements and performance standards. Functional testing encompasses a range of functionalities, including black box testing, unit testing, integration testing, system testing, regression testing, smoke testing, and others. However, non-functional testing, also known as performance testing, evaluates aspects such as speed, stability, scalability, reliability, load capacity, and how applications perform under stress.

To ensure the absence of quality issues in your software—whether functional or non-functional—it is essential to establish benchmarks for them to meet. Benchmark testing plays a crucial role in this process. This article will provide you with comprehensive information about benchmark testing.

What is Benchmark Testing?

Benchmark testing is a type of performance testing that involves comparing the performance, capabilities, or metrics of a software system or component against predefined standards or benchmarks. It helps determine the quality standards of every software application that belongs to your organization. Benchmark testing typically covers software, hardware, and network performance.

The purpose of benchmark testing is to compare the previous, present, and future updates of your application against a set benchmarks/criterion. Benchmarks are predetermined criteria or metrics that represent a standard of comparison, helping to evaluate the software’s performance and determine whether it meets desired levels of functionality, speed, reliability, scalability, or other relevant attributes.

How Benchmark Testing Works

Benchmark testing must be both repeatable and quantifiable. You should establish benchmarks that allow you to assess the software’s performance consistently with each iteration. Whether it’s measuring in numbers or time, the functionality of the application should be quantifiable. Every test conducted during benchmark testing should be both repeatable and quantifiable to ensure accuracy.

  • Repeatable benchmark example – If there is significant variation in response times with each iteration of the load test, it becomes necessary to establish benchmarks for system performance. Consistent and stable response times should be maintained across various load conditions. 
  • Quantifiable benchmark example – Let’s say you’re testing a web application and while your user experience may not be easily quantifiable in numerical terms, the time a user spends on a webpage, influenced by a well-designed user interface (UI), can be measured. 

    Why is Benchmark Testing Important?

    Benchmark testing is crucial for ensuring that your software meets predefined standards before reaching users. It validates software performance, identifies and addresses bottlenecks, and ensures consistency across different iterations. Key benefits include: 

    • Performance Analysis: Facilitates comparison of software performance against competitors. 
    • User Experience and Availability: Creates and sustains high user experience and availability standards. 
    • Regulatory Compliance: Ensures compliance with regulations and Service Level Agreements (SLAs). 
    • Vendor Evaluation: Assists in evaluating third-party vendors. 
    • User Experience Insight: Determines how response time and availability affect user experience. 
    • Consistency and Repeatability: Ensures precise comparison of results by maintaining consistent conditions for each test run. 
    • Enhanced Load and Performance: Improves load handling and overall functionality of the application through performance testing. 
    • Early Detection of Issues: Identifies potential issues early in the development cycle, allowing for timely resolution and reducing the risk of major problems post-release.

    Types of Benchmark Tests

    System Benchmark – System benchmark tests are designed to evaluate the overall performance of a computer system, including its hardware, network, and software components.

    Application Benchmark – Application benchmark tests evaluate the performance and capabilities of software applications under various conditions. These tests focus on measuring the efficiency, responsiveness, and overall functionality of an application. It typically includes the web application and the databases.

    Hardware Benchmark – Hardware benchmark tests assess and measure the performance of various hardware components within a computer system. These tests provide valuable insights into the capabilities and limitations of individual hardware elements, aiding in performance optimization, purchasing decisions, and system upgrades.

    Network Benchmark – Network benchmark tests assess the performance, reliability, and efficiency of a computer network. These tests help measure the network’s capabilities under various conditions, providing insights into its speed, bandwidth, latency, and overall responsiveness.

    Storage Benchmark – Storage benchmark tests evaluate the performance, speed, and efficiency of storage devices such as hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs), and storage area networks (SANs).

    Phases of Benchmark Testing

    Planning Phase

    This first phase refers to identifying and establishing a benchmark. This is the phase where your teams are typically determining the benchmark criteria and the testing process. You’ll want to identify what components within the system are the most critical to test regarding performance and user experience.

    Analysis Phase

    In this phase, you’ll want to analyze all the information from the previous step when planning the test. You then use this information to set the goals and objectives and the error identification process.

    Integration Phase

    This stage involves aligning functional and non-functional requirements with the approval of business processes and internal stakeholders. Serving as the intermediary phase, it bridges the planning and analysis phase with the final stage.

    Action Phase

    This marks the final stage of benchmark testing, where meticulous consideration and proper execution of all data, established standards, and tests are ensured. This phase encompasses the development of test scenarios, execution of performance tests, measurement of performance, and calculation of results.

    How to do a Benchmark Test

    Performing a benchmark test involves a systematic process to assess the performance of a system, software, or hardware component.

    1. Prepare Benchmark Objectives

    Clearly outline the goals and objectives of the benchmark test. Identify specific aspects of performance, such as speed, reliability, or scalability, that you want to evaluate.

    2. Select a Benchmarking Tool

    Choosing an appropriate benchmarking tool based on the type of test you want to perform is crucial to ensure you’re getting the best testing and results. LoadView is a fantastic tool that will help you benchmark test your applications.

    3. Establish a Baseline

    Before making any changes or optimizations, establish a baseline by running the benchmark test on the current system. This provides a reference point for comparison.

    4. Test Creation

    Create detailed test plans and scripts tailored to your objectives. If your users need to go through a specific user workflow, ensure that everything you want to test is captured in the script. Tools like LoadView provide a recorder that lets you easily record the step-by-step of your user actions and then create the script for you. You’ll also want to configure your test to simulate your real-world users during this step.

    5. Test Execution

    Perform your benchmark tests on every system or application version being evaluated. For instance, conduct benchmark assessments on various web browsers to analyze and compare their rendering speeds. Thoroughly document the test outcomes, encompassing response times, resource utilization, and any unanticipated variations. This may involve simulating real-world scenarios or stressing the system to measure its limits.

    6. Test Analysis

    Examine the collected data to analyze the performance of the system or component. Identify any anomalies, bottlenecks, or areas for improvement. You’ll also want to document the benchmark test procedures, results, and any optimizations made. This documentation is valuable for future reference and comparison.

    7. Optimize and Retest

    As we had mentioned earlier, benchmark tests must be repeatable and quantifiable. Your benchmark tests are meant to be run again over time to ensure consistency in testing. As you continue to integrate your benchmark testing sooner in your development phases, the more you’ll have time to make any necessary adjustments and optimizations to your system. Retesting is also useful to validate the impact of your changes and optimizations.

    Benchmark Testing Tool

    LoadView stands out as a top-of-the-class cloud-based performance testing solution, enabling users to effortlessly craft diverse test scenarios using the intuitive EveryStep Web Recorder scripting tool. With the LoadView platform, users gain access to authentic browser-based testing, replication of prevalent desktop and mobile devices, and a wide array of geographic locations for creating highly realistic performance testing environments.

    Setting up your performance tests for benchmark testing on LoadView is quick and straightforward. You can utilize its load curve features to precisely adjust the load on your website or application according to your specific requirements. Load curves are particularly beneficial for refining benchmark metrics. Once configured, LoadView will execute your tests and provide a comprehensive report containing all the metrics necessary for comparing your results. LoadView’s performance reports offer insightful, easy-to-understand results out of the box. You can save these reports for future reference and define a baseline for repetitive comparisons.

    Experience the full capabilities of LoadView with a free trial, allowing you to conduct benchmark testing and evaluate your application’s performance under various load conditions without any initial investment. Start optimizing your website’s reliability and user experience today with no commitment!

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