Jay Harris is Cpt. LoadTest

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Filed under: ASP.Net | Programming | Tools | Visual Studio

“It compiles! Ship it!”

Microsoft has sent Visual Studio 2005 to the printers. That brings .Net 2.0 to the table in all of its glory. The official release date is still November 7, and though it is available now to all of us MSDN subscribers (though the site is too flooded to ping, let alone download), there is still some question on if the media will be ready in time to go in all of the pretty little VS05 boxes at your local Microsoft store.

Friday, October 28, 2005 1:40:03 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] - Trackback

Filed under: Performance | Testing

Outside of the QA world (and unfortunately, sometimes in the QA world), I’ve heard people toss around ‘Performance Testing’, ‘Load Testing’, ‘Scalability Testing’, and ‘Stress Testing’, yet always mean the same thing. My clients do this. My project managers do this. My fellow developers do this. It doesn’t bother me–I’m not some QA psycho that harasses anyone that doesn’t use exactly the correct term–but I do smirk on the inside whenever one of these offenses occurs.

Performance testing is not load testing is not scalability testing is not stress testing. They are not the same thing. They closely relate, but they are not the same thing.

  • Load testing is testing that involves applying a load to the system.
  • Performance testing evaluates how well the system performs.
  • Stress testing looks at how the system behaves under a heavy load.
  • Scalability testing investigates how well the system scales as the load and/or resources are increased.

Alexander Podelko, Load Testing in a Diverse Environment, Software Test & Performance, October 2005.

Performance Testing

Any type of testing–and I mean any type–that measures the performance (essentially, speed) of the system in question. Measuring the speed at which your database cluster switches from the primary to secondary database server when the primary is unplugged is a performance test and has nothing to do with the load on the system.

Load Testing

Any type of test that is dependent upon load or a specific load being placed on the system. Load testing is not always a performance test. When 25 transactions per second (tps) are placed on a web site, and the load balancer is monitored to ensure that traffic is being properly distributed to the farm, you are load testing without a care for performance.

Stress Testing

Here is where I disagree with Alexander: stress testing places some sort of unexpected stress on the system, but does not have to be a heavy load. Stress testing could include testing a web server where one of its two processors have failed, a load-balanced farm with some if its servers dropped from the cluster, a wireless system with a weak signal or increased signal noise, or a laptop outside in below-freezing temperatures.

Scalability Testing

Testing how well a system scales also is independent of load or resources, but still relies on load or resources. Does a system produce timeout errors when you increase the load from 20tps to 40tps? At 40tps, does the system produce less timeout errors as the number of web servers in the farm is increased from 2 servers to 4? Or when the Dell PowerEdge 2300s are replaced with PE2500s?

Any type of testing in QA is vague. This includes the countless types of functional testing, reliability testing, performance testing, and so on. Often time a single test can fit into a handful of testing categories. Testing how fast the login page loads after three days of 20tps traffic can be a load test, a performance test, and a reliability test. The type of testing that it should be categorized as is dependent upon what you are trying to do or achieve. Under this example, it is a performance testing, since the goal is to measure ‘how fast’. If you change the question to ‘is it slower after three days’, then it is a reliability test. The point is that no matter where the test fits in your “Venn Diagram of QA,” the true identify of a test is based on what you are trying to get out of it. The rest is just a means to an end.

Sunday, October 16, 2005 1:41:01 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [1] - Trackback

I know. I haven’t posted in a while. But I’ve been crazy busy. Twelve hour days are my norm, right now. But enough complaining; let’s get to the good stuff.

By now you know my love for PsExec. I discovered it when trying to find a way to add assemblies to a remote GAC [post]. I’ve found more love for it. Now, I can remotely execute my performance tests!

Execute LoadRunner test using NAnt via LoadRunner:

<exec basedir="${P1}"
  commandline='\${P2} /u ${P3} /p ${P4} /i /w "${P5}" cmd /c wlrun -Run
    -InvokeAnalysis -TestPath "${P6}" -ResultLocation "${P7}"
    -ResultCleanName "${P8}"' />

(I’ve created generic parameter names so that you can read it a little better.)
P1: Local directory for PsExec
P2: LoadRunner Controller Server name
P3: LoadRunner Controller Server user username. I use an Admin-level ID here, since this ID also needs rights to capture Windows PerfMon metrics on my app servers.
P4: LoadRunner Controller Server user password
P5: Working directory on P2 for 'wlrun.exe', such as C:\Program Files\Mercury\Mercury LoadRunner\bin
P6: Path on P2 to the LoadRunner scenario file
P7: Directory on P2 that contains all results from every test
P8: Result Set name for this test run

'-InvokeAnalysis' will automatically execute LoadRunner analysis at test completion. If you properly configure your Analysis default template, Analysis will automatically generate the result set you want, save the Analysis session information, and create a HTML report of the results. Now, put IIS on your Controller machine, and VDir to the main results directory in P7, and you will have access to the HTML report within minutes after your test completes.

Other ideas:

  • You can also hook it up to CruiseControl and have your CC.Net report include a link to the LR report.
  • Create a nightly build in CC.Net that will compile your code, deploy it to your performance testing environment, and execute the performance test. When you get to work in the morning, you have a link to your full performance test report waiting in your inbox.

The catch for all of this: you need a session logged in to the LoadRunner controller box at all times. The '/i' in the PsExec command means that it interacts with the desktop.


PsExec is my favorite tool right now. I can do so many cool things. I admit, as a domain administrator, I also get a little malicious, sometimes. The other day I used PsExec to start up solitaire on a co-workers box, then razzed him for playing games on the clock.

Friday, October 14, 2005 11:35:40 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] - Trackback