Tools of the trade for performance and load testing

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Your application is fast and scalable, right? How do you know? How often do you run performance or load tests? In this post I will give an overview of the tools of the trade for performance and load testing web applications.

Open-Source performance testing tools

These tools allow you to load test your application for free. My preferred tool is Bees with Machine Guns — not just because of the epic name, but primarily because it uses Amazon’s EC2 to generate high levels of concurrency with ease.

  • Bees with Machine Guns – A utility for arming (creating) many bees (micro EC2 instances) to attack (load test) targets (web applications).
  • MultiMechanize – Multi-Mechanize is an open source framework for performance and load testing. It runs concurrent Python scripts to generate load (synthetic transactions) against a remote site or service. Multi-Mechanize is most commonly used for web performance and scalability testing, but can be used to generate workload against any remote API accessible from Python.
  • Siege – Siege is an http load testing and benchmarking utility. It was designed to let web developers measure their code under duress, to see how it will stand up to load on the internet. Siege supports basic authentication, cookies, HTTP and HTTPS protocols. It lets its user hit a web server with a configurable number of simulated web browsers. Those browsers place the server “under siege.”
  • HttpPerf – Httperf is a tool for measuring web server performance. It provides a flexible facility for generating various HTTP workloads and for measuring server performance. The focus of httperf is not on implementing one particular benchmark but on providing a robust, high-performance tool that facilitates the construction of both micro- and macro-level benchmarks. The three distinguishing characteristics of httpperf are its robustness, which includes the ability to generate and sustain server overload, support for the HTTP/1.1 and SSL protocols, and its extensibility to new workload generators and performance measurements.
  • Apache Bench – AB is a tool for benchmarking your Apache HTTP server. It is designed to give you an impression of how Apache performs.
  • JMeter – Apache JMeter may be used to test performance both on static and dynamic resources (files, Servlets, Perl scripts, Java Objects, databases and queries, FTP servers and more). It can be used to simulate a heavy load on a server, network or object to test its strength or to analyze overall performance under different load types. You can use it to make a graphical analysis of performance or to test your server/script/object behavior under heavy concurrent load.

Performance testing tools as a service

Through these services you can build, execute, and analyze performance tests.

  • Apica Load Test – Cloud-based load testing for web and mobile applications
  • Blitz.io – Blitz allows you to continuously monitor your app 24×7 from around the world. You can emulate a single user or hundreds of users all day, everyday and be notified immediately if anything goes wrong.
  • Soasta – Build, execute, and analyze performance tests on a single, powerful, intuitive platform.
  • Blazemeter – BlazeMeter is a self- service performance & load testing cloud, 100% JMeter-compatible. Easily run tests of 30k, 50k, 80k or more concurrent users, on demand.

Performance testing on the client side

The best place to get started is at Google with the Web Performance best practices.

  • Google PageSpeed Insights – PageSpeed Insights analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster. Reducing page load times can reduce bounce rates and increase conversion rates.
  • Google ngx_pagespeed – ngx_pagespeed speeds up your site and reduces page load time. This open-source nginx server module automatically applies web performance best practices to pages, and associated assets (CSS, JavaScript, images) without requiring that you modify your existing content or workflow.
  • Google mod_pagespeed – mod_pagespeed speeds up your site and reduces page load time. This open-source Apache HTTP server module automatically applies web performance best practices to pages, and associated assets (CSS, JavaScript, images) without requiring that you modify your existing content or workflow.

Web acceleration services

Through a simple DNS change, your website’s traffic is routed through these services and your content is optimized and cached globally for better performance. This is an easy way to improve performance with minimum efforts.

  • Yottaa – All-in-one web optimization solution delivers speed, scale, security and actionable insight for any website.
  • Cloudflare – Offers free and commercial, cloud-based services to help secure and accelerate websites.
  • Torbit – Torbit helps you accurately measure your website’s performance and quantify how speed impacts your revenue.
  • Incapsula – Incapsula offers state-of-the-art security and performance to websites of all sizes.

Recommended reading

A great book to learn about capacity planning and preparing for production traffic is The Art of Capacity Planning by John Allspaw. John Allspaw wrote the book from his experience scaling Flickr.

As always, please feel free to comment if you think I have missed something or if you have a request for content in an upcoming post.

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