Why Do We Need to Load Test Web Applications?

Retailer and e-commerce companies are entirely dependent on click rates. Whenever abandon rates go up, it has an adverse impact on their overall revenue. Therefore, successful organizations integrate load tests in their development chain to validate non-functional requirements, size their hardware accordingly, and understand the breaking points of their IT services. In this article, we will discuss more on why it its important to load test web applications.

The idea that 90 percent of all user interactions must be below two seconds is a classic example of a non-functional requirement. Obviously, you can’t test this manually because you need to simulate the expected load and verify the 90th percentile response times for all user actions.

Another use case for load tests is to verify the sizing of the actual or required hardware. Companies cut IT costs and can no longer afford oversized machines. CPU and memory utilization during single user activities are typically minimal. In concurrent user situations, this looks completely different. Too high system resource utilization has an adverse impact on response times, and oversized hardware is too expensive. Load tests will help you to find the appropriate sizing.

From an operational perspective, it’s essential to understand how and when a service starts to fail under certain workload situations. There are spiky Black Friday load scenarios or permanent high usage figures which could lead to serious issues. The former needs more temporary capacity, while the latter has different demands and requires a permanent increase in capacity. Load tests are the only measure which gives you insights into these critical scenarios.

Load tests are an excellent investment, primarily because they help build trust in your IT services and give organizations confidence that the new or changed system performs within the agreed boundaries.

Web Application Load Testing Tools

Almost 30 years ago, the first web pioneers started with the development of load simulation platforms. Web pages were simple, and content was mainly static. With the rise of cloud and SaaS-based technology, many services are now available online through your browser. Due to these evolving technologies, competition is high, and businesses try to hold existing or gain new customers with even better, more streamlined services. One opportunity to improve service quality is to provide responsive and reliable applications.

In recent years new load test solutions have appeared in this growing market. Pioneers such as JMeter or LoadRunner were deployed on a company’s local machine. With the rise of cloud computing, some of them extended their service to SaaS or on-demand load testing platforms. We take a look at over a dozen load testing platforms. See how other load testing solutions stack up against each other and against our load testing solution, LoadView.

On-premises Web Application Testing Tools

Maintaining a local load testing infrastructure can be challenging, therefore, successful companies often switch to a cloud-based offering which avoids the pain of operating local load testing farms. The benefit is that there are no maintenance tasks or fees involved and the client only pays for the required service. The LoadView solution is completely cloud-based, so you and your team does not have to concern themselves with having to go through the time-consuming process of having to install additional programs, setting up load injectors, and manually configuring tests. The LoadView solution provides all these benefits and more (including the monitoring and testing of APIs).

LoadView utilizes a complete network of load injector locations (Amazon Web Services and Azure Cloud Services), so you can scale your load tests however you need. Choose from over 20 geographic locations. Save valuable time and focus on running load tests real browsers from the cloud.

On-demand/SaaS Web Application Testing Tools

Maintaining a local load testing infrastructure can be challenging, therefore, successful companies often switch to a cloud-based offering which avoids the pain of operating local load testing farms. The benefit is that there are no maintenance tasks or fees involved and the client only pays for the required service.

Best Practices for Load Tests on Web Applications

If you have no experience performing load tests, the chance is high that you will run into pitfalls and may not reach your goals. However, if you can avoid some of the difficulties listed below, and you will make a good step towards responsive and reliable IT services.

First, be sure to specify a realistic load pattern for your load test. You should not fully trust the given figures in non-functional requirement documentations. Even if an application is already in production, the chance is high that its usage has changed over time. For new services which are still not deployed on production, using Little’s Law to calculate the load pattern can be helpful. If there is already a productive environment and real customers are using the new services, then analyze the log files, derive user interactions per hour, and the number of concurrent sessions from these records. Consider actual average load, spiky Black Friday and Cyber Monday type loads, and future growth patterns in your tests.

Realistic User Scenarios

Another hazard is choosing the appropriate user simulation. Open-source load testing solutions are notorious for providing limited simulation support. They often come up with protocol-based load generation which does not take into consideration the performance from the end user’s perspective, which is extremely important for ensuring their experience with your application is top-notch. Consider a modern web-based application which loads its content while the user clicks through various paths, steps, and pages. A huge proportion of these activities can’t be captured on the protocol level because client-side processing is entirely left out. Therefore, carefully review your application under test conditions before you decide on the user simulation approach.

Modern web applications typically require a real browser-based virtual user simulation technique. For this reason, the LoadView solution provides the EveryStep Web Recorder. This tool can be used to quickly script these complex and critical user scenarios, like searching for a product, logging in to a portal, or the shopping cart path to purchase. This allows you to better understand how your applications perform as these steps are carried out under load.

Load Test Web Applications: Final Thoughts

Finally, be aware that performance is more a journey than a destination. The later you detect hotspots in your development chain the more reworking is required to fix them. Start with component or service-based load tests on development stages, consider daily test executions, use thresholds to identify breaking points, and switch to more sophisticated real user level simulation scenarios on QA stages once the application has been integrated with its surrounding systems.

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