Transformation
Featured
Your transformation toolkit

Advance your enterprise testing strategy with our transformation toolkit.

Learn more

Trimble

Trimble ensures outstanding app performance for web and mobile users
3X
greater coverage
400K
assets monitored
1M
transactions per hour
image

Overview

Trimble is a leading provider of advanced location-based solutions for businesses across the construction, environmental, government, and agriculture industries. The company holds more than 1,000 patents. Trimble is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, and operates in more than 35 countries.

Civil construction is a key industry of Trimble’s client base. The Virtual Site Solutions (VSS) division of the company serves as a joint venture with construction company Caterpillar. This division’s core product, VisionLink®, integrates construction site equipment telematics, allowing customers to collect, manage, and analyze complex information faster and easier, making them more productive and profitable.

When the VisionLink® application was first launched, it helped customers manage their construction assets like tractors and trailers from one web client user interface. Performance and availability of the VisionLink® web and mobile application are critical to successfully detecting and monitoring these substantial construction assets.

Jim Duffy, Trimble’s QA Performance Tester, explains, “Some of our clients own a fleet of large multi-million-dollar mining trucks, and any one of these trucks can haul up to 200 tons of high-grade ore, which is how the company makes its money. If there is ever an issue with the truck causing it to go down for two or three days, the client can potentially lose millions of dollars.”

By using VisionLink®, owners can see the status (location, fuel level, tire pressures, temperatures, and hours) of each asset in their fleet. In addition, they will be notified of any upcoming maintenance or  problems so they can be taken care of with a minimum of downtime.

Duffy continues, “The failure of the application to detect any one issue could mean significant revenue loss for our clients in the area of millions each day.”

With so much money on the line, Trimble needed to ensure flawless application performance for its clients.

Challenges

  • Simulate real user activity to test availability and performance
  • Ensure mobile app performance under challenging, sub-optimal conditions
  • Pinpoint response-time issues quickly
  • Performance test Flex applications

“NeoLoad makes it easy to create load tests for new features and then to combine and scale up those tests.”

— Jim Duffy, QA Performance Tester, Trimble

NeoLoad helps overcome complexity hurdles in testing mobile applications

While the performance team supports development in the U.S., India, and New Zealand, the company shares one central data center, located in the U.S. The infrastructure behind the data center is large and complex, meaning a lot of data storage and transmission. While the launch of the VisionLink® web application brought enormous opportunity for Trimble’s clients, the company lacked a performance testing tool that could monitor the availability and performance of the application under load while simulating the end user’s activity. Without an ability to load test the application, the company faced the anxiety of being able to continuously support its growing business.

Trimble was also planning to launch a mobile application to help equipment owners in the field be able to locate and monitor their equipment with greater ease. Using GPS capabilities, the mobile app allows equipment owners to  identify which specific assets, amongst numerous others in the field, require maintenance. The mobile app, however, brought the added complexity of performance issues across devices and network conditions, with slower transmission times than the web application they had in place.

“Our industry poses a challenge for mobile. Many of these project sites are very remote. For example, when we service equipment being used to build an underground subway system, we have to assume that our clients will access their app under sub-optimal mobile network conditions,” says Duffy.

An additional sticking point, Duffy adds, is the ability to keep track and monitor a vast project site containing at times hundreds of vehicles within one site. Trimble needed a performance testing tool that would be able to address multiple challenges faced both in the present and into the future. Since the VisionLink® tool was built with Flex, Trimble needed a performance testing tool that could decode and encode AMF (Action Message Format). Trimble first looked at LoadRunner and WebLOAD since both tools support Flex, but LoadRunner was too costly and WebLOAD considered Flex support as an added feature.

“Regarding price competitiveness and Flex support, NeoLoad was the obvious choice,” Duffy says. “When we were first evaluating NeoLoad, we set up load tests and immediately found we were violating our response time SLAs and crashing our application with only a few concurrent users. Using NeoLoad, we were able to quickly drill down and identify the problem areas and implement changes to improve response times and application stability.”

Trimble’s performance team also sought the ability to develop test scenarios easily and efficiently. It found that with NeoLoad’s variable extractor capabilities it could randomize the variables and customize the virtual user profiles.

Another feature of NeoLoad that Duffy found particularly useful was its ability to organize each virtual user action into containers, making it possible to extract statistics around a certain business transaction and sending it to their development team to perform deeper diagnostics. In support of Trimble’s future mobile development plans, they found that NeoLoad provides the necessary mobile capabilities, including network emulation and device simulation, that would ensure a successful mobile user experience come launch time. Duffy says, “The ability to capacity plan for the mobile launch was critical to minimizing risk for our team and maximizing performance for our clients.”

Trimble poised for growth with NeoLoad

“We are in our fourth year using the NeoLoad product and our business is growing exponentially. The number of equipment assets we are monitoring in the past two years has tripled, and we are currently processing nearly one million transactions during a busy hour,” Duffy says.

Additionally, the Trimble team was able to meet its response time SLAs even with this increased transaction rate, and the application is currently supporting the required number of concurrent users. Duffy says, “Using NeoLoad, our team was able to deploy the first version of our mobile application with confidence and without the risk of losing traffic, revenue, or employee productivity.”

NeoLoad provided the capability to simulate a high volume of concurrent mobile users and checked that the servers wouldn’t have performance issues under load. This ensured that mobile users got acceptable response times even under sub-optimal mobile network conditions. Using NeoLoad’s mobile device simulation and network emulation capabilities, the team was able to replicate a realistic load on the backend of the mobile application so that any issues could be mitigated before its real clients experienced them in production.

Results

  • Faster, deeper performance analysis
  • Realistic mobile emulation and device simulation
  • Minimized risk for mobile application launches
  • Met response time SLAs even with triple the number of assets monitored
  • Improved six to 12month capacity planning for mobile and web apps

“Using NeoLoad, our team was able to deploy the first version of our mobile application with confidence and without the risk of losing traffic, revenue, or employee productivity.”

— Jim Duffy, QA Performance Tester, Trimble

With NeoLoad, the team was able to optimize the performance of the mobile app to ensure real-time monitoring and maintenance for its clients. “The mobile app has brought greater convenience to our clients to be able to locate assets in the field, like a truck that needs engine maintenance, or a tire that needs air. The mobile app has lent a far greater experience for our truck owners who, in the past, would sit in their truck using merely their old laptop and a paper map to navigate in the field, and monitor their construction vehicles,” Duffy explains.

Furthermore, metrics generated by the reports enabled the Trimble team to rapidly identify the weak points in both the application and architecture and send the errors  to the development team to be fixed. “Monitoring and fixing errors build-by-build allowed our team to enter the production phase each time with greater confidence and peace of mind,” Duffy says.

“Looking to the future, management anticipates over 60,000 customers monitoring over 400,000 assets. We have a test environment that models our production stack. This testing environment needs to be able to test projected loads that are anticipated six to 12 months into the future. NeoLoad makes it easy to create load tests for new features and then to combine and scale up those tests to the anticipated volumes,” Duffy notes.

To support continued growth, the Trimble team will use NeoLoad to capacity plan for future iterations of their web and mobile applications, learning from VisionLink’s dynamic customer behavior and active user feedback. Duffy says, “Since using NeoLoad, not only has it fulfilled our testing needs on a day-to-day basis, but it has provided the return on investment that will continue to offer long-term benefits for the VSS product team well into the future.”

Product mix

  • Tricentis NeoLoad