IT Synergistics develops software to offer blood banks efficient, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 510(k)-cleared, web-based solutions to manage all aspects of blood donation including validating, labeling and preparing blood donations for shipment.
At IT Synergistics, their lean, agile team strives to stay cutting edge, adopting practices like DevOps and Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery into their software development lifecycle. Software Quality Manager, Kalman Grof-Tisza and Managing Director, Tim Bryant, were looking to augment their team’s ability to execute by finding a new tool to support testing faster and automating processes.
Developing software in a regulated industry comes with challenges – strict quality requirements and stringent verification. In the past, this meant that software teams looked to waterfall development styles to ensure they were meeting the standards set by governing parties. IT Synergistics grappled with continuous testing and release cadence challenges.
“We’ve done waterfall workflows in the past and our releases have gotten away from us. What we estimated would take 6 months would end up taking 9 months.”
In today’s day and age, we’re beginning to see that paradigm shift. Teams are now looking to ensure they can keep up with consumer needs by having builds ready to go and tested before big releases. This means being able to test with speed, without letting quality slip.
“Operating in a regulated industry, our product(s) must adhere to all applicable guidance to ensure a safe product for market use. This means you can’t just say, ‘hey you get an update, you can apply it this afternoon, you’re good to go.’ There’s lots of testing, validation, and signoff that you have to go through for a new release.”
For IT Synergistics, quality is everything. Their software helps blood banks manage all aspects of blood donation, meaning that each line of code in some way or another can impact lives of those that rely on their software.
“It really is a matter of life or death with what happens to blood donations – from drawing the blood to how it’s tested, and to delivery for hospital inventory. If the system fails, product can get out the door when it shouldn’t, and if that gets transfused to someone else… that’s deadly. So, quality is absolutely essential for us.”
Kalman and Tim’s team is now implementing smaller, more frequent releases, with builds ready to ‘release’ each week, even if they hold off on deployment into production for bigger increments to be released externally.
“We’re a small company and we do software development very well, but we’re always looking at ways to improve, especially under the banner of DevOps, CI/CD, and automation – SmartBear is very good at sending information out about how to improve.”
With the need for a new tool, IT Synergistics looked to SmartBear to help eliminate their testing bottlenecks without losing the same standard of quality they provide to their customers.
“We do have some gaps from an automation standpointWe have difficulty simulating the load testing portion, which is why LoadNinja is very important for us.”
IT Synergistics needed a tool that was easy to use and didn’t require a deep knowledge of test scripts to easily create and execute accurate load tests. Since they have a small team and a large amount of tests they need to cover, they need a solution that can support their team’s ability to move fast without sacrificing quality.
Kalman and Tim turned to LoadNinja from SmartBear to empower their team to create complex load tests in minutes and test in real browsers at scale. It was also essential that test management and test configuration was easy for them to maintain:
“It has to be tested every which way. Our system is highly configurable, so there are so many permutations, which can make script management difficult. LoadNinja helps eliminate that.”
For them, the big benefit came with the LoadNinja InstaPlay Recorder:
“Right off the bat, just the ease of generating a script and running the script… and the fact that you can generate load from servers in the cloud to test private applications was really simple.”
This level of speed was invaluable to their team – they can now move quickly without risking deploying bad code. Plus, they were able to load test internal web applications, which previously would have been very complex to test. With LoadNinja, there are a few different options for load testing in a private network – a dedicated IP or whitelisting IPs.
LoadNinja ultimately empowered them to amplify feedback loops and continue to test at scale. The reports and data they could get from LoadNinja, even as the tests were running, made it easy to pinpoint bottlenecks and fix them rapidly.
“One of the things that LoadNinja was able to do was to point out 3 or 4 areas that we had bottlenecks, and we said, ‘okay that’s an indicator that we can go in and fix.’ We were able to make our response times faster and customers happier.”
"We do have some gaps from an automation standpoint. We have difficulty simulating the load testing portion, which is why LoadNinja is very important for us."
— Tim Bryant, Managing Director
LoadNinja was an affordable, powerful option for IT Synergistics to provide a fast, reliable way to test their web applications under load. They could be rest assured that when blood banks are hosting large blood drives, everything will perform as expected.
“It wasn’t confusing. I really liked the fact that you could just go, ‘hey is this test working? It is. What are the results? Here it is. Here’s the bottleneck, let’s go fix it.’”
Prior to using LoadNinja, it took a long time to get load tests up and running, and even more effort to maintain these tests. When there was a performance issue, it was really difficult to identify what was happening and where to focus their efforts. At certain times, they would have to rely on manual testing efforts, which for load testing can be exceedingly difficult. With LoadNinja, they were able to rapidly ramp up user load and get immediate, actionable metrics to begin making changes.
“It’s very easy to see what’s going on in the reports. Plus, capturing all the data on the backend was filling up our system log with the actual output as well, which was great since we could see it was doing a lot.”
With this transition, IT Synergistics is able to reduce costs, avoiding the required set up and maintenance of load generators in the host machine, which is common for other load testing tools.
Ultimately, LoadNinja empowers IT Synergistics to provide more value for their customers faster with a tool that is affordable, easy to use, and instrumental in determining the next steps for performance optimization.
“I just felt like LoadNinja was way easier to get off the ground and running. Boom. Done.”