5 Reasons to Test Backend Systems for Performance – Early & Often

Testing your backend systems is a critical part of the software development validation process. It ensures you are ready to deploy your latest build to production, that your systems are working together as a seamless whole and that you are releasing quality applications to users. But tackling performance testing manually can be very labor intensive.


Fortunately, new automated testing tools are now available to do the heavy lifting – letting you continuously ensure the end-to-end quality of your mission-critical systems. Using a call center platform as our example, let’s explore how these automated test toolkits can overcome common pain points and help you determine whether your backend systems support five important performance criteria.


1. Delivering remarkable user experiences

How do you know whether you are delivering the experiences users want and need?  In the call center world, the solution has been to survey call center agents about their experiences each time a new code change is made to determine if any areas of an application are underperforming.  It’s a time-consuming effort at best.

Solution: Usability testing. Automated usability tests let you easily gather important information about what happens when users interact with various aspects of your application. For example, you can determine whether supervisors find it easy to set up new call center campaigns or whether agent consoles are readily accessible and easy to use. By identifying performance gaps, you can focus first on the improvements that matter most.


2. Performing consistently under stress

With call centers and other large-scale platforms, it can be hard to emulate real-world conditions. The way users interact with your systems can vary based on the speed of the machine they use, spikes in the number of users logged in and a variety of other factors. As a result, call center QA teams have had to study actual agent interactions and create test scripts that mimic daily routines. Thousands of instances of these scripts are then launched over virtual machines to determine whether server health and browser performance are within an acceptable range.


Solution: Load testing. Automated load tests can quickly emulate users and help you determine the traffic volume your systems can handle before they break. As a result, you can identify and fix issues before your software is released to production.  You can test load performance proactively on a local machine as each small, incremental code change is made, and then reuse the same scripts to test at scale across a continuous delivery pipeline.


3. Detecting failure points early

It can be difficult to replicate the system state that results in a crash. When I was part of a call center test team, we actually installed screen-recording software on a few agent machines – eventually gathering enough data to replicate the crash and determine how to gracefully recover to an operable state.


Solution: Recovery testing. With automated testing tools, you won’t have to resort to workarounds. You can identify points of failure early during code development and also during production as part of a continuous integration/continuous delivery pipeline -- determining whether your system can recover by itself.


4. Ensuring “as designed” functionality 

When you have large development teams and multiple stakeholders who can interpret requirements differently, it can be a challenge to determine whether your solutions function “as designed.” Establishing user-acceptance checkpoints can help you ensure everyone is on the same page. But that can be a challenge when you have ongoing iterations of code. 


Solution: Functional testing. With functional testing, you get a behavior-driven test automation framework that is created before any functionality is implemented. Business stakeholders, QA engineers, analysts, developers and test teams work together to identify the correct flow and to agree on how to test each requirement for functionality.


5. Delivering continuous quality

One of the constraints with regression testing is time – especially when you have a large and complex backend infrastructure. In this era of constant code updates and releases, you need a way to test quickly for end-to-end quality in application delivery.


Solution: Regression testing. Regression tests that are automatically executed at the end of your testing cycle can provide explicit assurance that nothing has been broken by changes introduced into your current software build. You will be poised to move confidently into production.


Perform Your Own Test Automation Symphony 


Since multiple tests types are needed to ensure all parts of your system work well together and meet the expected criteria, how do you bring them all together into a single, automated toolchain? 


One of the easiest ways to get started is with Taurus – a free, open-source test automation framework that gives you a simple way to create, run and analyze performance tests. You can orchestrate an entire symphony of test scripts from your development environment (IDE) of choice – defining precisely what will be tested, how and when.  It’s so simple that you can describe a full-blown script with just a few lines of simple syntax text.


Taurus alone, though, isn’t sufficient. You’ll need to make the open-source tools you adopt enterprise ready, with the scalability, comprehensive reporting and automated test flows you need to ensure continuous quality across diverse projects. You want to be able to execute small-scale tests from your local machine, and then reuse the same scripts at scale in the cloud as part of your CI/CD pipeline.


CA BlazeMeter delivers all the enterprise features you need. You get a single, integrated test platform that makes your open-source tools enterprise ready and ensures compatibility with your existing test infrastructure.

Learn More at www.blazemeter.com/shiftleft

It’s time to explore how BlazeMeter can help your team mitigate risks by performance testing every build – end to end. Start your testing journey today with a free BlazeMeter demo. We also encourage you to join our Apache JMeter™ Training Academy for tips and techniques that can save you time and help you test more efficiently in an open-source environment.


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