Performance Testing has become a cornerstone of software development as it helps create high quality applications with optimal user experience that do not break under load. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are pre-defined goals that allow you to meet company and market performance commitments or standards. Data from various test scenarios that are executed are then compared to the SLA, which then determines if the testing has passed. This helps guarantee optimal performance, stability, and user experience. Let’s take a closer look at the SLA for Performance and Load Testing.
Performance testing essentially verifies the performance, responsiveness and stability of an application or website under load. This type of non-functional software testing grades performance using factors like speed, scalability, and reliability. Using the results of performance tests, you can analyze response time, throughput, errors per second, etc. to evaluate the application’s or website’s performance.
This kind of testing essentially helps you establish whether your business needs are met, as well as check the functionality of your hardware under normal loads.
It’s also important to mention Load Testing, the most common subset of performance testing, which puts the application under a high load to establish the system’s maximum capacity without dips in performance or negative user experience. Loading tests aim to determine the system’s behavior with many concurrent users or multiple concurrent transactions. The main goal is to analyze how the application will perform under excessive workloads.
Within the different load test scenarios, you can analyze the system’s behavior on different parts of the applications like the login page and the shopping cart, or test the system’s performance with users from different geographic locations. Performance and load testing help companies assess the state of their applications and fix underperforming parts, but also act as foundation data for performance SLAs.
What is a Service Level Agreement (SLA)?
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is an agreement between a client and a service provider that incorporates an explicit list of services, quality standards, and responsibilities. This document also covers problems and penalties for possible violations. SLAs include all information about the product including performance levels and possible bottlenecks which can be borrowed from the test results.
Performance and load testing help companies assess the state of their applications and fix underperforming parts, but also act as foundation data for performance SLAs.
Why create SLAs and how will they benefit your company and business goals?
- Clear expectations
The ideal SLA must include the definitions of both parties together with the scope and the goal of their collaboration. Clear expectations for the goal and the process of cooperation between the parties simplifies the quality measure and eliminates any further disputes. Everybody is then on the same page. The contract should also cover the duration of the project as well as resource management.
On top of that, SLAs also include information about the responsibilities and duties of both parties and a detailed list of procedures that need to be performed. For example, involved teams and stakeholders must elaborate on the procedure of request creation, report formulation, data sharing and storing, and other important steps. The SLA basically also serves as an onboarding and training tool.
- Measurable standards
You will require the standards during the evaluation of the service provider’s work. Without predefined concrete numbers, your assessment will not be precise.
This is where you should use your testing data and use it for determining realistic standard settings. Performance testing gives you information about the speed, stability, and reliability of the application which can be interpreted for performance measurements KPIs. Load testing results such as operating capacity and breaking points can also be used as some key performance standards.
- Defined consequences for underperformance
Finally, the SLA works as a guarantee that the client will receive the services they have paid for. SLAs also protect the service provider by including information about possible penalties in case of a breach or any other disruptive situations. It is also recommended to add a dispute resolution clause to establish the procedures of resolving possible conflicts or misunderstandings between the parties.
Performance and Load Testing SLAs – Top 5 Best Practices
How to create an efficient and exhaustive SLA without leaving out some crucial aspects? We have prepared the top 5 best practices that will help you excel.
#1 – Establish Baseline Performance Metrics and KPIs
One of the most essential parts of an SLA is the defining of performance standards that are to be met. Determine the right metrics and KPIs before getting started. Besides running performance tests to establish your current status, you should use analytics tools like Google Analytics to determine your market position. A thorough competition scan will help you take the necessary measures.
Tip: You should run a script with virtual users against the application to compare your user behavior metrics with the industry-leading companies.
#2 – Define the SLAs
A good and flexible Performance and Load Testing tool will enable you to define SLAs, track and monitor them during your performance tests.
In the tool, you can choose the criteria you will measure, select the thresholds, determine the duration of the contract, and even make it recurring. Once all the requirements have been set, the system will automatically inform you when violations occur. You can determine if to fail the test or only raise alerts. In any case, make sure to define where you want to channel the alerts and notifications.
Tip: The parameters should be set for client-side measurements like pages or transactions as well as for server-side indicators like memory or CPU.
#3 – Automate and Integrate into Your DevOps Pipeline
As SLA is also a way to prescribe procedures, it can serve as a bridge to automation. Include DevOps methods into your SLA to speed up testing in the CI pipeline.
QA teams will benefit from having a concise document with a detailed analysis of the state of the application. Knowing which parts of the system are weaker than others, QA specialists will know exactly where to focus their work. SLAs also smoothen out client-service provider communication and simplify the process of improving the performance and removing bottlenecks. By integrating DevOps best practices into your activities in the SLA, you will elevate your performance metrics.
#4 – Monitor with Customized Alerts
You can then use the same SLAs for Performance and Load Testing with your monitoring platform where you should upload your testing reports and results.
Make sure there is an integration between your Performance and Load Testing tool and the Application Performance Monitoring tool of your choice. Once the data is ingrained into the system, you get a continuous monitoring tool that alerts you every time it identifies a problem. Continuous monitoring makes sure you are in compliance with the SLA as well as allows you to prepare reports and make necessary changes on the fly.
Another best practice is to continue performance and load testing in production (Shift Right), ensuring you meet your SLAs also in the production environment.
Tip: Automated alerts will ensure the adherence to your current SLA requirements and goals, while also improving the efficiency and productivity of all teams.
#5 – Share With Stakeholders and Communicate Findings
Regular stakeholder meetings are one of the important parts of DevOps. The results of ongoing performance monitoring should be shared with relevant teams to keep everyone in the loop. The QA team needs the data to create relevant test scenarios, developers require the latest updates to know which features to adjust, and managers will use these insights to make business-level decisions.
Tip: Make sure that your meetings, which can also be held over the phone or video chat, occur regularly so that everyone is on the same page.
SLAs – Extremely Helpful, When Implemented Correctly
Now that we have established the importance of Performance and Load Testing SLAs, it’s also important to touch on another crucial topic – implementing and enforcing in the SLA. It’s nice to have a detailed SLA with optimistic performance targets, but lack of automation and transparency can render it ineffective and throw the entire development pipeline into a state of unfixable uncertainty and chaos.
Your Performance and Load Testing SLA tool should have both server and client side tracking capabilities. It should be simple and flexible enough to easily define SLAs at any granularity desired. The solution should be transparent and accessible via a centralized dashboard, something that helps break down results fast and share the data with development, IT, and database teams. It should also have customizable alerts and notifications to gain complete control of the ecosystem.
Only creating and enforcing a comprehensive Performance and Load Testing SLA will help you achieve success in today’s dynamic market. Get started now.
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