Using Load Tests to Validate Assumptions

In business, it’s always a refreshing moment when you find an unsolicited endorsement of your products or services. At SmartBear, we were thrilled to be mentioned in University of Notre Dame’s DevOps blog and to find that LoadUIWeb, our load testing tool for Web applications, was instrumental in making sure they had right-sized their cloud environment.

Wait? What? Notre Dame and DevOps? What’s that about?

According to Sharif Nijim, lead enterprise application architect at the University of Notre Dame, “it’s all about getting central IT at ND to be more Agile.  That effort is bound to our strategy of extending our data center beyond campus.”

A year ago, Notre Dame’s IT group moved nd.edu into AWS. The move was so successful that they’ve since moved their custom-engineered CMS from Rackspace to AWS and have spun up a campus mobile app (not yet released).  And their work continues – right now, the group is working on ways to ensure students, faculty and staff access from off-campus locations so they aren’t dependent on campus resources to authenticate to all of the cloud services they’ve made available to students (Box, Gmail, Innotas, etc).

“Students benefit from the projects we do – it’s a customer service thing,” says Nijim.  “I have a talented freshman working with me who adapted the code running printatcu.com to power a mobile app so students integrate into our print system and print from tablets/smartphones.”

So how does load testing fit into this picture? When their cloud spend analytics tool said “scale down your instances to save money,” Nijim decided to put that assertion to a test. First, they needed fast access to a lightweight load testing tool to validate their sizing assertions. Using LoadUIWeb, they discovered that if they scaled down, as recommended, the response time doubled – not an acceptable solution!

M1. small performance test output

small-performance-test-page-load-time

small-load-testing-report

M1. medium performance test output

medium-page-load-time

medium-slow-pages-load-testing

You can read more about their tests and what they learned from their blog. But ultimately, as the title of the blog implies, the IT team and the students all learned a great lesson about why we test.

Managing the performance and costs of cloud environments can be a major concern for many DevOps teams. It’s one reason why the latest version of LoadUIWeb Pro contains a cost estimator for cloud services, which allows you to model your test scenarios and get real-time pricing estimates from Amazon before running the tests.

Sharif Nijim is the lead enterprise application architect at the University of Notre Dame. His main areas of focus include cloud computing, devops, enterprise architecture, and APIs. Sharif served as the lead architect for Notre Dame and on the initial Higher Education Advisory Board for Box as part of its growths as an Internet2 Net+ service. In addition to his duties as an architect, he holds a concurrent position teaching at Mendoza College of Business. You can follow him on Twitter as @snijim.

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