Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Amit Gupta

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog

@DevOpsSummit: Blog Post

Don’t Get Spooked! How to Plan and Execute Last Minute Performance Testing | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

Load tests can be super-scary if you aren't expecting them

It's 4:49pm on a Thursday. The phone rings.

Wendy, the Performance Engineer: Hi, this is Wendy.

Larry, Head of Development: Wendy, I'm so glad I caught you before you took off for the day. How are you?

Wendy: Ummm, fine.

Larry: Great. Listen, we were able to jam that great new feature into our latest build and want to make sure it's included in this weekend's load testing. Can you get that going for us so that we have results on Monday?

Wendy: On... Monday?

An owl hoots in the distance.

Load tests can be super-scary if you aren't expecting them. They take a fair amount of planning and coordination to pull off. They don't just happen by themselves.

Why would you need to run an unexpected load test? Turns out there are a number of reasons. For example, let's say your app crashes in production. Once you recover from the crash and determine what went wrong, which is pretty high-pressure in itself, you then have to run some tests to make sure the problem won't happen again.

Or like Wendy above, maybe your dev team surprises you with a new feature or with an early build, and you have to cram in a load test before you've had a chance to properly put everything in place.

The point is, things like this can creep the average performance tester out. But you don't need to get spooked. Planning your load test doesn't have to take tons of time if you approach it the right way and if you set yourself up for success from the start.

Follow this advice and all will end well.

It's All About the Scenarios.

Load tests are by their very nature big and complicated. That doesn't mean they have to be inefficient. The key to executing a large, complex task is to focus. For load testing, you want to focus on the pathways that matter most. Don't waste time testing code that hasn't changed or testing a feature that users rarely access. Instead, keep your eye on the prize and you'll give yourself the most confidence you can in your app's ability to grow and scale.

Performance engineering is all about the experience, which exists at the intersection of the user and the app. That means you'll want to focus your load testing on those user paths that are most likely to be followed. Plus, you need to account for any relevant attributes of the application itself, how it was built, and how it is changing.

There are a few ways of approaching this:

  1. Focus on pathways that users are likely to go through: Take some time before you turn in at night to cuddle up with Google Analytics. Understand how visitors are accessing and traversing your site: where do they enter? How do they navigate? What are their goals? Look for the 20% of pathways that host 80% of the people. Better yet, find the 5% of pathways that host 95% of the people. Pages like your home page, your main login, or a hot viral video landing page will give you the biggest bang for your load testing buck.
  2. Focus on pathways that involve money or other KPIs: If you are an eCommerce site, your checkout process really matters. If you are a content site, view counts of your top articles drive your advertising rates and your financial engine. Whatever you do, there is a path on your site that plays a role in how you get paid. These pathways are critical to test under load because they are what turn a website into a business.
  3. Pathways that involve new or recently changed features: If you are looking for the parts of your app most likely to break under load, a great place to look is in anything that's new or changed - especially if you have a robust load-testing practice and high confidence in the scaling specs of your site. Work with your dev and functional QA teams and watch your change logs to identify revised or updated code blocks, as well as any recent areas of quality regression. New features can hold unexpected surprises in production. These make great candidates for the focus of your testing.
  4. Pathways that involve known bottlenecks: Finally, every app has its secrets. There's that one SQL query that doesn't scale like the rest of the app, or that particularly troublesome module that's never been fully trustworthy even though no one knows why. Like the abandoned house just at the edge of town, it's the unknown things lurking inside that create the biggest scares. You'll always want to be looking out for these dangerous areas, as they have a way of never quite dying.

When you have to throw a load test together quickly, figure out which of these areas gives you the best approach for focusing your efforts in light of the circumstances you are under. Once you do, it'll be a lot easier to put the pieces in place that will let you quickly and confidently run your test.

Be Prepared to Act

Like the Boy Scouts say, be prepared. It's really hard to set up a load test quickly if you don't have good infrastructure to begin with, so spend the time now when things aren't crazy to get those systems in order.

Start with a library of scenarios that you can use as building blocks for complex tests. Theseperformance unit tests are a great way to quickly build highly customized scenarios that cover the pathways you have already identified.

Next, automate your tests and plug them into your test automation platform or your continuous integration platform. If you do this by stringing together your unit tests, you've got a system and the experience to easily and flexibly create a variety of different tests. Then, when that unexpected load test comes around, it's not as much of a fire drill. You know how to do it. You've got it.

You'll also want to have a good shared understanding of how to build and execute a performance testing plan. Create a test plan template as a starting point to give you structure when you are in a rush. It doesn't need to be complicated. With the right amount of forethought, it can really help you focus on the right set of pathways and go from there.

You should also have strong monitoring systems in place so you can keep track of important load testing key performance indicators, or KPIs. In general, your most important metrics for virtually any load test done in a hurry come down to concurrency, transaction rate, and the user experience. You should have the process to measure these KPIs down cold, so you'll be ready when you need them.

The cloud is a great resource to have on tap when you need to set up load generators in a hurry. You get even more value if you combine your load tests with synthetic users that can gather metrics against your live production site for trending and comparison purposes.

Conclusion

When you are under pressure to come up with a plan, time is not a luxury you have. That's why it's important to be prepared, choose your use cases carefully, and know what metrics you are looking for. It's not that scary if you simply break it down. For more tips on what you can do to be prepared, check out these performance testing horror stories from Brad Stoner and get his suggestions on how to avoid them.

Photo Credit: Kristy Hom

More Stories By Tim Hinds

Tim Hinds is the Product Marketing Manager for NeoLoad at Neotys. He has a background in Agile software development, Scrum, Kanban, Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Testing practices.

Previously, Tim was Product Marketing Manager at AccuRev, a company acquired by Micro Focus, where he worked with software configuration management, issue tracking, Agile project management, continuous integration, workflow automation, and distributed version control systems.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Detecting internal user threats in the Big Data eco-system is challenging and cumbersome. Many organizations monitor internal usage of the Big Data eco-system using a set of alerts. This is not a scalable process given the increase in the number of alerts with the accelerating growth in data volume and user base. Organizations are increasingly leveraging machine learning to monitor only those data elements that are sensitive and critical, autonomously establish monitoring policies, and to detect...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Robert Cohen, an economist and senior fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute, presented the findings of a series of six detailed case studies of how large corporations are implementing IoT. The session explored how IoT has improved their economic performance, had major impacts on business models and resulted in impressive ROIs. The companies covered span manufacturing and services firms. He also explored servicification, how manufacturing firms shift from se...
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settl...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DXWorldEXPO LLC, the producer of the world's most influential technology conferences and trade shows has announced the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO "Early Bird Registration" is now open. Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
Here are the Top 20 Twitter Influencers of the month as determined by the Kcore algorithm, in a range of current topics of interest from #IoT to #DeepLearning. To run a real-time search of a given term in our website and see the current top influencers, click on the topic name. Among the top 20 IoT influencers, ThingsEXPO ranked #14 and CloudEXPO ranked #17.
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
Major trends and emerging technologies – from virtual reality and IoT, to Big Data and algorithms – are helping organizations innovate in the digital era. However, to create real business value, IT must think beyond the ‘what’ of digital transformation to the ‘how’ to harness emerging trends, innovation and disruption. Architecture is the key that underpins and ties all these efforts together. In the digital age, it’s important to invest in architecture, extend the enterprise footprint to the cl...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.