Load test early and often to prepare for the holiday season
Internet shoppers are increasingly intolerant of slow performance and delay. Even very slight performance degradation can cause a significant percentage of them to abandon your site for the competition.
In recognition of this fact, some Internet retailers are already beginning to load test their sites in preparation for the holiday season. If this seems early to you, consider the following points:
- Web applications are built using many more moving parts than in the past. These include, but are not limited to, Web servers, application servers, database servers, storage devices, mainframes, load balancers, firewalls, mobile components and carriers, media servers, ad servers, content delivery networks, analytics servers, and third party cloud services. All these moving parts add up to many potential bottlenecks.
- Solving one bottleneck causes the next bottleneck to rise to the surface. An example is when load testing indicates that database optimization is necessary. Your goal is to be able to support 10,000 simultaneous users. Once the database is optimized, the increased performance allows user scenarios to complete more quickly, which increases the number of sessions generated. User sessions consume memory, and you now bump up against a second bottleneck, etc. Each time a bottleneck is cleared, the simultaneous user ceiling is raised, and you get one bottleneck closer to your goal.
- Some solutions to the bottlenecks that are uncovered might be very time consuming. Refactoring a slow application, tuning multiple databases, and ordering, installing and configuring new hardware are examples.
These are just a few of the reasons why it's advisable to set aside additional time and budget for seasonal load testing. Chances are, it will take more than a few rounds of testing in order to obtain the information you need to provide an optimal customer experience during the holidays. Because during the busy and competitive holiday shopping season (and always) it's much better to be the site that consumers run to when other sites slow down or crash!
For more on this topic, join me on Thursday, Aug. 18 at 1 p.m. ET for a special webinar presentation, "Expecting a spike in Web traffic? Can your Web site handle it?" During the webinar I'll cover:
- Who should be Web load testing
- Why load testing is important to your business
- When you should load test
- Where to load test - internal or external to your network
- What are the top 5 charts to review to successfully analyze load testing results
Over the next few months, I'll be delving into other topics in the realm of load testing, website performance and availability. Please let me know if you have any specific topics you'd like addressed!