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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Volume tests - Volume Testing of Messaging systems

Volume tests are often most appropriate to messaging, batch and conversion processing type situations. In a volume test, there is often no such measure as response time. Instead, there is usually a concept of throughput. A key to effective volume testing is the identification of the relevant capacity drivers. A capacity driver is something that directly impacts on the total processing capacity. For a messaging system, a capacity driver may well be the size of messages being processed.

Most messaging systems do not interrogate the body of the messages they are processing, so varying the content of the test messages may not impact the total message throughput capacity, but significantly changing the size of the messages may have a significant effect. However, the message header may include indicators that have a very significant impact on processing efficiency. For example, a flag saying that the message need not be delivered under certain circumstances is much easier to deal with than a message with a flag saying that it must be held for delivery for as long as necessary to deliver the message, and the message must not be lost. In the former example, the message may be held in memory, but in the later example, the message must be physically written to disk multiple times.

Before conducting a meaningful test on a messaging system, the following must be known:

- the capacity drivers for the messages.
- the peak rate of messages that need to be processed, grouped by capacity driver.
- the duration of peak message activity that needs to be replicated.
- the required message processing rates.

A test can then be designed to measure the throughput of a messaging system as well as the internal messaging system metrics while that throughput rate is being processed. Such measures would typically include CPU utilization and disk activity. It is important that a test be run, at peak load, for a period of time equal to or greater than the expected production duration of peak load.

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