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Performance of Test’s Goals PDF Print E-mail
Written by Angela Tan, Taiwan   
Friday, 30 September 2011 14:13



Performance of Test’s Goals


Performance testing can serve different purposes.

§  It can demonstrate that the system meets performance criteria.

§  It can compare two systems to find which performs better.

§  Or it can measure what parts of the system or workload causes the system to perform badly.

Many performance tests are undertaken without due consideration to the setting of realistic performance goals. The first question from a business perspective should always be "why are we performance testing?". These considerations are part of the business case of the testing. Performance goals will differ depending on the application technology and purpose however they should always include some of the following:


If an application identifies end-users by some form of login procedure then a concurrency goal is highly desirable. By definition this is the largest number of concurrent application users that the application is expected to support at any given moment. The work-flow of your scripted transaction may impact true application concurrency especially if the iterative part contains the Login & Logout activity

If your application has no concept of end-users then your performance goal is likely to be based on a maximum throughput or transaction rate. A common example would be casual browsing of a web site.

Server response time

This refers to the time taken for one application node to respond to the request of another. A simple example would be a HTTP 'GET' request from browser client to web server. In terms of response time this is what all load testing tools actually measure. It may be relevant to set server response time goals between all nodes of the application landscape.

Render response time

A difficult thing for load testing tools to deal with as they generally have no concept of what happens within a node apart from recognizing a period of time where there is no activity 'on the wire'. To measure render response time it is generally necessary to include functional test scripts as part of the performance test scenario which is a feature not offered by many load testing tools.

Performance specifications

It is critical to detail performance specifications (requirements) and document them in any performance test plan. Ideally, this is done during the requirements development phase of any system development project, prior to any design effort. See Performance Engineering for more details.

However, performance testing is frequently not performed against a specification i.e. no one will have expressed what the maximum acceptable response time for a given population of users should be. Performance testing is frequently used as part of the process of performance profile tuning. The idea is to identify the “weakest link” – there is inevitably a part of the system which, if it is made to respond faster, will result in the overall system running faster. It is sometimes a difficult task to identify which part of the system represents this critical path, and some test tools include (or can have add-ons that provide) instrumentation that runs on the server (agents) and report transaction times, database access times, network overhead, and other server monitors, which can be analyzed together with the raw performance statistics. Without such instrumentation one might have to have someone crouched over Windows Task Manager at the server to see how much CPU load the performance tests are generating.

Performance testing can be performed across the web, and even done in different parts of the country, since it is known that the response times of the internet itself vary regionally. It can also be done in-house, although routers would then need to be configured to introduce the lag what would typically occur on public networks. Loads should be introduced to the system from realistic points. For example, if 50% of a system's user base will be accessing the system via a 56K modem connection and the other half over a T1, then the load injectors (computers that simulate real users) should either inject load over the same connections (ideal) or simulate the network latency of such connections, following the same user profile.

It is always helpful to have a statement of the likely peak numbers of users that might be expected to use the system at peak times. If there can also be a statement of what constitutes the maximum allowable 95 percentile response time, then an injector configuration could be used to test whether the proposed system met that specification.

Questions to ask

Performance specifications should ask the following questions, at a minimum:

§  In detail, what is the performance test scope? What subsystems, interfaces, components, etc. are in and out of scope for this test?

§  For the user interfaces (UIs) involved, how many concurrent users are expected for each (specify peak vs. nominal)?

§  What does the target system (hardware) look like (specify all server and network appliance configurations)?

§  What is the Application Workload Mix of each application component? (for example: 20% login, 40% search, 30% item select, 10% checkout).

§  What is the System Workload Mix? [Multiple workloads may be simulated in a single performance test] (for example: 30% Workload A, 20% Workload B, 50% Workload C)

§  What are the time requirements for any/all back-end batch processes (specify peak vs. nominal)?


Last Updated on Thursday, 03 November 2011 17:47
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