Thursday, March 26, 2009

Load Testing Tools

Apologies for the delay is in posting. My company has been dealing with a customer problem that required some significant load testing. The previous set of load tests had appeared to miss something and we had to go back to the drawing board. The person who owned and managed the previous set of load tests was no longer here, and the load test framework, while documented, was not easy to extend.

So we went looking for a load test tool to give us a leg up quickly. Unfortunately, even though open source is my default choice I was not able to get any of the open choice solutions up and running quickly while giving me scope for quickly adapting to different load test scenarios. If I had had a few more days I probably could've put an open-source solution in place that would give me the same responsiveness as the proprietary solutions.

It very quickly came down to the proprietary solutions of NeoLoad and PureLoad. Almost all of the other proprietary solutions were too expensive or took too long to set up and configure.

Of the two, NeoLoad passed the five-minute test with flying colors. After downloading the install. It took me less than four minutes to start running load tests. If you are unfamiliar with the language of load testing, it may take you as long as a half hour to understand the documentation. I recommend looking at the Wikipedia entries for load testing first before attempting to use any load testing tool. The terminology can be misleading when you're first exposed to it.

PureLoad almost passed that test. I was able to get the free (PureTest) component that allows you to record and run the tests themselves up and running in five minutes.They have a separate tool called PureLoad tool that allows you to run the same tests as load tests. I was not able to get that up and running in the types of scenarios I wanted and my call for pre-sales support went 48 hours before I got a response. By that time, I had already committed to going with NeoLoad.

With NeoLoad, we have the license for 60 simultaneous virtual users within an hour after they received a purchase order. I was up and running load tests within the next half hour. The fact that they had an eval license that allowed me to prepare all of the tasks ahead of time and run them with three simultaneous users, allowed me to ramp up before I even got the full license. That is what I like!

Sidenote: What was truly frustrating was the fact that when I did get a presales support call back from PureLoad, the individual in question tried to convince me to change my mind and use the PureLoad product on the basis of price even when I highlighted to him that the reason for going with NeoLoad was speed of setup and speed of response. I pointed this out to him two times. After the second time, when he again brought up the subject of price, I had to make it clear that no means no. This is why I consider communication and listening skills to be critical for any kind of presales support. If, for some reason, NeoLoad does not work out I will be reluctant to go back to the PureLoad people simply because I don't want to deal with people that don't listen.

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