Contributed Articles

How to Stop Load Testing Like It’s 1999

This article by Wolfgang Platz was originally published on The New Stack

The digital world is indeed a very different place compared to what life was like in 1999. At that time, less than 4% of the world population was using the internet — and among those who did have access, the vast majority relied on dial-up modems for access. Google was just coming out of beta, sites like Ask Jeeves, Alta Vista, Lycos and AOL dominated the search engine landscape, people still purchased VHS tapes and everyone was worried that the world might come to an end on January 1, 2000. Websites looked like this and state of the art internet could get you up to 1.25 Mbps. Slow performance was as ubiquitous as the modem beep — but if someone wanted to load test, they could do so using a protocol-level load testing tool like the then-newly-released JMeter or LoadRunner.

Today, the web (and the world) have changed a lot. But load testing? Not so much. The practice is still dominated by protocol-level testing with JMeter and LoadRunner — the same approach and tools used in 1999. Unfortunately, this 1999-style load testing is extremely difficult to apply to today’s web apps, which are highly complex, componentized and JavaScript-heavy. And now, the stakes are much higher. Performance issues don’t just delay the loading of your company’s rudimentary website. They slow your business — its ability to process transactions, attract and retain customers and out-innovate your competition. In fact, a recent study found that nearly half (48%) of businesses reported performance issues were directly hampering the success of their digital transformation initiatives.

In the very immediate future, the ability to strategically pivot becomes imperative — for the digital business constantly facing disruption and for the load testing efforts that are crucial for their ultimate success.

And for load testing, the future is actually bright… and BLU.

BLU stands for “browser-level users.” To understand how it dramatically simplifies load testing, it’s important to first recognize why traditional approaches to load testing are so cumbersome to apply today.

Protocol-Based Approaches Are Brittle and Time-Consuming

Today’s Agile developers and testers don’t have the time (or desire) to wrestle with all the technical details required to get load tests working correctly and to keep brittle load tests in sync with rapidly evolving applications…