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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Performance Tests Precedes Load Tests

The best time to execute performance tests is at the earliest opportunity after the content of a detailed load test plan have been determined. Developing performance test scripts at such an early stage provides opportunity to identify and re mediate serious performance problems and expectations before load testing commences. For example, management expectations of response time for a new web system that replaces a block mode terminal application are often articulated as 'sub second'. However, a web system, in a single screen, may perform the business logic of several legacy transactions and may take two seconds. Rather than waiting until the end of a load test cycle to inform the stakeholders that the test failed to meet their formally stated expectations, a little education up front may be in order. Performance tests provide a means for this education.

Another key benefit of performance testing early in the load testing process is the opportunity to fix serious performance problems before even commencing load testing. When performance testing of a 'customer search' screen yields response times of more than ten seconds, there may well be a missing index, or poorly constructed SQL statement. By raising such issues prior to commencing formal load testing, developers and DBAs can check that indexes have been set up properly.

Performance problems that relate to size of data transmissions also surface in performance tests when low bandwidth connections are used. For example, some data, such as images and "terms and conditions" text are not optimized for transmission over slow links.

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