What is software performance testing - The Ultimate Guide | DeviQA
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What is software performance testing - The Ultimate Guide

What is software performance testing - The Ultimate Guide
December 14, 2021


Efficient software testing is multifaceted, encompassing a wide variety of tests. Performance testing is among the top priorities. Why? Because software performance not only influences the overall user experience but also shapes the business opportunities for future growth. Given its significance, it's worthwhile to delve deeper into this type of testing. Let's dive into the details.

What is Software Performance Testing?

If you are still unfamiliar with the concept of performance testing, let's define it. Software Performance testing is a type of non-functional software testing conducted to evaluate characteristics such as speed, scalability, stability, and reliability when an application experiences a specific level of workload. The primary goal of performance testing is to identify and address performance issues before an application's launch.

During performance testing, various metrics can be collected and analyzed. Key metrics include average load time, bandwidth, response times, throughput, garbage collection, memory/CPU/disk space usage, latency, the maximum number of concurrent users, error rate, thread counts, and more.

Types of Performance Testing

Software Performance testing can be conducted in various ways, depending on the goals set. As a result, several distinct types of performance testing can be identified.

Load Testing

Load testing aims to evaluate an app's behavior as the workload (e.g., the number of concurrent users or transactions) gradually increases but remains within the expected limits. This testing primarily identifies response time, resource utilization, and throughput rate.

Stress Testing

Stress testing is akin to load testing, but here, the workload surpasses the anticipated limits. The focus of this testing is on hardware components, such as CPU, memory, and hard disk, to determine the potential impact on these finite device resources by the Application Under Test (AUT).

Endurance Testing

Endurance testing assesses an application's behavior under a sustained, typical workload. Its goal is to verify the application's long-term performance capabilities.

Spike Testing

During spike testing, the app's behavior is analyzed as workloads experience rapid, significant, and recurrent increases. These workloads are short-lived but exceed regular boundaries.

Scalability Testing

Scalability testing is vital for future capacity planning. It gauges an application's efficiency in "scaling up" or, in other words, accommodating an increased number of concurrent users.

Volume Testing

Volume testing ensures that an application functions as anticipated when processing large volumes of data.

How to Execute Performance Testing

Software Performance testing is a complex process and isn't something that can be done impromptu. It necessitates meticulous preparation and is executed in several stages, as delineated below.

Test Planning

Detailed planning is pivotal for performance testing. Before diving into active testing, one must acquaint themselves with the application's architecture, available specifications, real user behavior, and more. This understanding helps in establishing the objectives of performance testing and making informed decisions regarding:

The scope of testing, i.e., which types of performance tests to conduct.
The performance metrics to be gathered during testing.
Benchmarking using acceptance criteria.
Selecting the right performance testing tools.
Requirements for the test environment.
Identifying critical business scenarios to script.
Choosing an appropriate workload model, and more.

If there are ambiguities, it's prudent to seek clarifications from stakeholders like project managers or business analysts who possess the requisite information.

Test Environment Setup

With the test environment requirements defined, the next step involves setting it up. This includes configuring the necessary hardware, software, databases, and other components.

Test Design

Here, performance tests are crafted, taking into account essential business scenarios, user variability, test data generation, and determining the metrics to be collected during the test run. The workload model and the scenarios in which the application's performance will be evaluated should mirror real-world conditions as closely as possible.

Test Execution

This is the phase where the designed performance tests are run. It involves real-time monitoring of application performance, gathering logs, and capturing the necessary performance metrics.

Analysis, App Tuning, and Retesting

Once the tests conclude, the team delves into the results and metrics, formulates reports, and shares findings with the broader product team. If any performance bottlenecks are detected, the development team implements the suggested enhancements. Subsequent performance tests are then conducted to confirm that the application has been optimized and that its performance meets the set acceptance criteria.

Documentation and Reporting

Maintaining a clear record of the entire testing process, methodologies used, results obtained, and recommendations made is crucial. This documentation aids in future testing cycles, offers insights for other projects, and provides stakeholders with a clear understanding of the application's performance readiness.

Software Performance Testing Requirements

In this section, we'll delve deeper into certain aspects previously touched upon, emphasizing their critical role in software performance testing. Let's discuss the elements essential for effective performance testing execution.

Test Environment Identification

The attributes of a test environment are more pivotal for performance testing than for functional testing. When conducting performance tests, it's imperative to establish a test environment mirroring the production environment as closely as possible. This entails defining factors like the number of servers, their models, hardware versions, operating systems, configuration file types, memory specifications, and the scale and volume of data in databases.

Acceptance Criteria Identification

Determining if performance tests have succeeded or faltered hinges on predefined benchmarks or acceptance criteria, which delineate expected application performance behaviors. After identifying which performance metrics need assessment, establish their appropriate benchmarks. This information might be gleaned from project requirements or by liaising with stakeholders. If stakeholders are unfamiliar with these specifics, researching and analyzing analogous applications can provide insights into acceptable values for metrics such as response time, load time, and CPU usage.

Key Scenario Identification

Scenarios describe user paths encompassing various application activities. Key scenarios are those deemed high-risk, most frequently used, or having significant performance implications. Scripting these scenarios ensures that software performance testing mirrors real-world conditions. To pinpoint these scenarios, performance test engineers should collaborate with product owners, business analysts, and other stakeholders. If the software is already live, analytics tools can help discern user behavior patterns and spotlight the most commonly traversed scenarios.

Proper Software Performance Testing Tool Selection

The right testing tool, or more aptly, a combination of tools, greatly enhances the accuracy and effectiveness of performance testing. The current market offers a plethora of performance testing tools. However, no single tool can cater to every performance testing need. As such, it's advisable to opt for multiple tools, each tailored to specific project requirements, ensuring a comprehensive performance testing suite.

Specifics of the Performance Testing Process

Performance testing, as previously mentioned, is intricate. To execute it effectively, derive maximum value, and gain insightful results, understanding its nuances is paramount. Let's delve into some of these specifics.

Embrace the Full Spectrum of Performance Tests

Many teams today tend to equate performance testing with load testing. However, it's crucial to understand that performance testing extends beyond just load testing. It encompasses a gamut of tests, including stress testing, volume testing, endurance testing, spike testing, and scalability testing. To unearth all potential performance bottlenecks and ensure the robustness, speed, and scalability of the application under test, implementing a comprehensive suite of performance tests is essential.

Craft Realistic Tests that Mirror Real User Behavior

For performance testing to be truly effective and yield accurate results, the tests must simulate real-world user activities. A key aspect to consider is the 'think time' of users, which can vary significantly. Hence, randomizing this think time is recommended. Since end users have diverse behaviors, performance tests should capture this variability.

Iterative Testing Throughout the Development Lifecycle

Addressing performance issues late in the development cycle can be challenging and costly. To circumvent this, adopt a proactive, agile approach by integrating iterative testing throughout the software development lifecycle. It's prudent to include performance testing during unit testing and to continue it regularly as the application evolves. This ensures performance bottlenecks are detected early, facilitating swift and efficient resolutions.


Software Performance testing is indispensable for those striving to launch a top-tier product and envisioning sustained growth. Various performance testing methodologies can be employed, each tailored to specific requirements. To harness the full potential of performance testing, adherence to the outlined execution steps is recommended. Emphasizing the planning phase is pivotal; without meticulous research, analysis, and planning, effective performance testing remains elusive. Furthermore, recognizing and accommodating the unique intricacies of performance testing ensures the derived results are both reliable and actionable, empowering teams to meet performance benchmarks and enhance scalability.