How DAFWA used load testing across their Gateway Website to increase the load capacity by 50%
The Department of Agriculture and Food of the Government of Western Australian is responsible for regulating and progressing the agricultural and food industries in the region. These responsibilities include monitoring climate change, planning land use, managing water and soil allocation, breeding crops, managing livestock, preventing and controlling diseases, exporting food and controlling quarantines.
DAFWA’s public web platform is internally hosted. They had a number of objectives:
Identifying peak load limits for specified high-usage areas of their Gateway Website
DAFWA wanted to use targeted load testing to identify the load capacity of high-usage areas of their Gateway Website, i.e to find out how many concurrent users their servers could process while maintaining acceptable responsiveness targets for its end users.
Performing a website health check to ensure that the performance is fine-tuned to deliver maximum responsiveness within the existing website architecture
DAFWA wanted to use a controlled load testing approach to step through a number of scenarios in order to fine-tune the website architecture to improve the performance of the website.
Developing a strategy for targeted performance improvements After fine-tuning and load testing, DAFWA wanted to prepare a plan to expand the website capacity, based on targeted areas that will deliver the greatest performance improvements to meet the projected growth in website usage over time.
DAFWA employed Permeance, an Australian-based BlazeMeter partner, to run load tests, analyze results and help improve their infrastructure capacity. Permeance provides a full suite of ICT consulting services to both government and private organisations.
Permeance used BlazeMeter to run 17 performance tests over a period of 18 days. The tests simulated a heavy peak load of users who use the Department of Agriculture & Food website to get information.
While testing, Permeance slowly ramped up the number of users, analyzed bottlenecks and optimized the system. They also ran a soak test, to determine the capacity of the system over a long period of time.
While ramping-up the number of users, BlazeMeter’s load tests identified performance bottlenecks.
Permeance continually analysed the load test results and provided advice to DAFWA to increase CPU resources, tune the cache, tune database connections and optimize images. This allowed the load tests to proceed to a greater number of concurrent users while maintaining acceptable levels of website responsiveness for end-users.
After 18 tests were completed in July 2017, DAFWA’s Gateway Website had been fine tuned to increase the number of concurrent users that could access the site, without any degradation in performance, by 50% and response times improved by up to 70%.
A number of strategies were identified including network configurations to improve the management and delivery of content, further compression of image assets and cache tuning to ensure that the website infrastructure could be further enhanced and configured to ensure that the website would meet the growing number of users into the future.
“The load testing process with Permeance allowed us to identify and resolve several configuration issues with our existing website architecture, resulting in significant improvements in load capacity. The project also provided a valuable performance baseline for use with any future analysis and decision making.”
“The review conducted for the external website was beneficial as we got the opportunity to monitor the actual performance of the hosting infrastructure. The final outcome indicated issues like short fall in resourcing and how the end result was accelerated without any downtime. This was a good opportunity to work as a team as we could clearly see and compare the resources on the server with the usage and how it impacts the server in general.”