Load Testing by Any Other Name is Still Useful

A consumer asked, “How much do I owe for your services?” the computer tech replied, “$50.00 Ma’am.” The consumer started to write down what she was to pay for, and upon reaching the end of a lengthy list, said, “So, $50.00 for the load testing…”, “Ye’”, the computer tech started to respond but was cut off, “…$50.00 for the stress test, $50.00 for the software performance test, $50.00 for the reliability test, and $50.00 for the volume test. Do you have a payment plan? I really wasn’t prepared to pay a $300.00 fee to see if the computers in my office could work on graphics, word processing and my financial reports at the time time.”

The computer tech was stumped, and so it goes. Yet, in all of her confusion, she summed up exactly what load testing tells us – in essence, how software being used on multiple computers within a network will function if they are working at maximum capacity. Our software company has expanded over the last year to better accommodate the consumers we serve and to help our bottom line. Growth can be painful, so we have created a simple information section on our website that explains many basic processes so that our techs can clearly share what they are doing. It is also helpful for our consumers because they can read over the information that breaks everything down for them.

We started with load testing. Load testing, aka concurrency testing, aka software performance testing, aka reliability testing, aka volume testing (there goes the $250.00 bonus our consumer was about to give our example tech), is a way to check a system’s performance when everything is normal vs. when it is at a peak performance load. There is not a clear point that delineates when a load test becomes a stress test. How the system handles high loads is generally called a stress test, but the terms are used interchangeably, in some cases. Different load testing tools handle the distinction between load/stress testing differently, so that’s another important thing to keep in mind.

It gives us information about how a system deals with many users, at the same time. Load testing is about mimicking real use rather than an analytical test and can help consumers learn about why their system is slow due to things like application software/application servers, network congestion, network latency, database servers, processing (consumer) and multiple servers’ ability to balance the load between them, with no playback capabilities.