In the second entry of a five-part series outlining 5 Steps to Ensure Performance, Technical Solutions Director, Joel Deutscher explains what you should be considering and addressing in your performance management strategy.
Step 2 – Own Your Performance
Traditionally, performance testing focused on a single point in time, tested just enough before go-live. Our first step covered some of the reasons why you need to know how fast you want your websites and apps, and now it's time to talk about ensuring that you get it.
Learning from Performance Leaders
It's always great to start by looking at a company that really owns their performance. Google's contribution to the HTTP specification helped speed up the web, offering tools to help people to optimise their website's performance, and best of all, still show the time taken to process a search on every result page. It's something we probably see multiple times every day, though we look straight past it. While it might be easy to take for granted, rest assured that Google is not overlooking your site's performance and considers it when establishing how far down the search results your website will appear.
It's difficult to own your performance as much as Google does, but as the focus on customer experience has increased, we can no longer afford to consider performance only as a tick in the box before go-live.
Owning Your Performance Management Strategy
So how should we ensure that our performance is managed? How do we ensure that we avoid the conveyer belt approach to performance testing? The simple answer is "It's ownership", and the way to do it is through understanding all of the moving parts.
It's important to ensure that every layer of your infrastructure is considered in your performance management strategy. This is particularly important as cloud infrastructure is adding increasing complexity. Now, we not only have to worry about how our application servers scale, but also how our hosted database and load balancers scale with load.
Testing Your Failover Scenarios Under Load
It's also extremely critical that any failover scenarios are tested under load. There is a lot of comfort to be had in having auto-healing infrastructure, but how well does it work if it fails under heavy load? Failover testing under load doesn't traditionally fall into the performance testing team's responsibility, and it doesn't fall into the operational team's responsibility. If you silo performance into one area, chances are things will slip through the cracks.
Information needs to flow freely between the production support team, to capacity planning and performance testing. This feedback loop is critical to maintain your application is fast enough to keep your customers satisfied.
Are You Owning Your Performance?
While you may not want to show loading times on your website, you do need to know what your customers are experiencing. You also need to consider the performance implications of every aspect of your app and its infrastructure, ensuring that everyone in the team knows how your application is performing in test and production.
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