In any software development project it is critical to carry out test plans that guarantee that the performance requirements of the application are met. Performance tests are, from the most obvious perspective, a set of tests that allow us to measure the speed of execution of a series of tasks in a system, under certain conditions.
To achieve a good level of performance, it is essential that the tests begin at the beginning of the software development. Moreover, if we want the results to be as reliable as possible, our test environment should be as close as possible to that of production, and never cross it with that of development or other tests.
Performance tests serve to:
- Demonstrate whether the system meets the established performance criteria;
- Compare systems to evaluate which one works faster;
- Validate and verify system quality attributes: scalability, reliability, use of resources;
- Measure which parts of the system or workload cause the assembly to perform poorly.
In this article, we will learn why testing environments are important; explore the different types of software testing environments and present recommendations to build performance testing environments.
Table of Contents
- The Importance of a Test Environment
- Types of Testing Environments
- Tips to Build Performance Testing Environment
The Importance of a Test Environment
A test environment, also referred to as a sandbox environment, is one of many factors that can help you optimize your new software. This is a parallel environment to a production environment, where you can test new applications, modules, migrations and data import configurations and train users without compromising your organization’s actual data or disrupting operations. While this can increase the cost and schedule of implementation projects, in the long run, avoiding problems and unexpected situations can result in significant savings in money and time.
As such, the test environment for any implementation plan should be part of the project. This is important for large businesses and new clients, especially if we’re talking about IT installations that partners are not yet familiar with, or the implementation of a module that is not covered by basic finance such as distribution or project management. Once the process is complete and the management solution is resolved, it is important to maintain the test environment as it can be reused for any further testing or implementation.
Test environments can also be used for migration of solutions. In fact, this step is important in the development of the system and can have a major impact on execution if it is not executed or integrated properly. The test environment makes it possible to better identify any issues that may arise during a migration and therefore, create solutions for migration to a production environment.
In essence, a test environment protects data and tasks during migration or implementation, prevents cost and delays, and highlights potential issues and ensures solutions are ready. This is an essential component of any business management system, ensuring that it works before implementing and modifying the production environment.
Types of Testing Environments
Development Test Environment
The main advantage of having a development environment is that application administrators, customers, or other team members can interact with them early in development and learn about application behavior, training, and testing performed by the test team. Monitoring whether an application is being developed in this way will ensure that it is error-free and meets the requirements raised in the project.
In addition to providing an environment where other team members can test your request, the development test environment can also confirm that your application will work if you need to receive a response from another test environment. For example, consider merging POS into an online store. Using the development test environment, you can create POS in test mode and complete shopping in the online store. The POS-to-process purchase responses send a response to the application about whether or not the payment has been completed.
It is not possible to process these responses in a local development environment. And, of course, it’s difficult to run these tests in a real environment, because real customers may have trouble processing a purchase.
Pre-Production Test Environment
Pre-production environments are also referred to as the integration or staging environment, which require the same technical configuration found in the production environment. The primary purpose of this environment is to emulate the production environment for testing updates and to ensure that applications on production servers are not corrupted during deployment. This reduces system degradation and cuts into production services.
Production Test Environment
The production environment is an environment where the application finally runs, where the end user has access, and where they work with business data. This is a server whose features and settings are the same as those already on the server. However, in this case it can be configured through multiple servers, as the application requires heavy user traffic and infrastructure capable of handling thousands of concurrent connections for load balancing purposes.
Tips to Build Performance Testing Environment
1) Start with testing early
Sometimes performance tests are performed once the product is delivered to the customer and the customer complains about the very high response times of the application. Another reason why it starts late is because they confuse Performance Testing with Functional Testing, which is a serious mistake.
Performance tests can be performed without the application being stable or the user interface terminated. As much as 80% of the time, performance problems reside in the architecture or technology adopted, discovering it a week before delivery can cause the cost of the error to be very high, causing changes in delivery dates and confusion in how solve the problem. To be able to visualize these problems from the beginning it is advisable to plan the performance tasks like any other task parallel to the development of the application with objectives and goals, which can be managed. As soon as you need to have an application first to then perform performance tests,
2) Do not think that performance tests can be performed by one person
You should not fall into the error of thinking that performance tests can be carried out by a single person. In that case we can find the following problems:
- The necessary capacity is not available: To carry out the tests it is necessary to have knowledge of the tool that is used, the techniques and methodologies together with the knowledge about the performance tests itself.
- The code is unknown: It is necessary that the person who developed the code that causes the performance problems be part of the tests to offer an analysis of the problem and possible solutions.
- The environment in which the tests run is not the one indicated: Without the help of the people in charge of the company’s hardware, the tests may be carried out on a server that generates totally erroneous results with the reality of the application.
3) Confuse load testing with anything else
Load tests basically aim to verify the performance of the application or system, under a simultaneous workload. Load testing is far from functional testing. Since the goals of each type of test are different, the skills needed to perform the tests are different, the test cases are different, the tools and technologies are different, and almost always the methodology of the testing process is different.
Load tests do not attempt to verify the performance of the application to a single user. It is obvious that the response times of an end-to-end path will not be the same if a user is found in the application as if more than one user is found. But we must bear in mind that the component that is the bottleneck or the cause of the drop in performance of the application may be different when there is only one user to when there is more than one user.
Load tests are a subcategory of performance tests focused on determining or validating the performance of the characteristics of the application under test when it is subject to workload simulating the use it will have in production.
4) Do not confuse the Web Server with the Web application
The web server receives http requests and quickly translates them into other kinds of requests for applications. The amount of time spent on the Web server itself should be negligible. All the time corresponds to the application behind it.
In addition, you need to make sure that the web server layer can handle the number of simultaneous connections required, this number increases as the requests to the server increase, the client has poor bandwidth, and other possibilities.
But in the end, what you are trying to test is what is behind the curtain, not the curtain. This means that while we do load testing on a Web application, we usually should not worry about things like: emulating http variations, sending http requests to pages or static images, or anything else that is handled by the Web Server and not by the application.
5) You should not learn to use a tool for performance testing without first learning about performance concepts
On many occasions it is tried to get to practice before knowing the theory, as if to think it somehow. This problem always stands out when we want to analyze the results that the tool gives us, we are not able to interpret the results and therefore know how to detect the piece that fails.
It is necessary to learn everything about Performance Testing first, based on statistical, technical and methodological concepts to then be able to move on to the selection of the appropriate tool for the execution of the planned
Applications are becoming more and more complex with shorter development cycles which require new and efficient methods of testing and development. The performance of an application in terms of overall user experience is now the key factor in the quality of an application.
Therefore, a performance testing strategy needs to be implemented at an early stage within the project life cycle. First step: qualification of performance. It defines the test effort for the entire project.
A traditional approach to environments for qa testing would require the project to wait for the application to be assembled before starting to validate performance. In a modern project lifecycle, the only way to include performance validation at an early stage is to test individual components after each build and perform end-to-end performance testing after application assembly.
Performance Lab has served over 500 companies across all domains, from finance and healthcare to retail and technology since its inception. It is one of the pioneering software testing services in the industry.By trusting on their expertise, your business can benefit from core software testing services, ranging from reliable Performance Testing, Usability Testing, and Mobile Testing to Integration Testing, Test Automation, Security Testing, and much more.