The 5 Vital Tests for Cloud-Based Application Performance

When it comes to application performance, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best will not suffice. While installing the best application monitoring service is crucial, testing is equally important. Developers and system administrators should systematically and exhaustively test applications to ensure they meet organizational and end-user expectations.

Application testing can be a tedious repetitive process but the benefits make it more than worth it. The alternative is poor performance and a plethora of system vulnerabilities that ultimately hamper the achievement of the organization’s goals. The following are the five types of App tests that are crucial in ensuring consistently high performance.

1. Load Testing

Stability is critical for cloud-based applications. The applications may be required to support thousands of simultaneous users. Load testing establishes how well the system will fare under a diverse set of user requests. The most important scenario for a load test is where the system is subjected to the expected number of simultaneous users.

Examine whether there’s a significant deterioration in application response time. A number of cloud providers provide load testing tools or at least easily integrate with third-party testing tools. The tools will simulate a ‘normal’ workload then report whether any requests were dropped or if the system was too slow to respond.

2. Stress Testing

Stress testing determines whether a cloud application can remain effective under unfavorable circumstances such as an excessive load. For instance, retailers should subject their systems to stress testing before an anticipated spike in sales volumes (such as Black Friday) to ascertain whether the application will withstand the sudden surge in traffic.

Stress tests are particularly important in a public cloud environment where each physical server may house several distinct tenants. Organizations can determine whether performance will be impeded if multiple clients on the same server experience peak traffic simultaneously. Like load tests, stress testing tools simulate sudden activity from thousands of users.

3. Functional Testing

Functional testing focuses on the user experience. The tests establish if the cloud-based application satisfies business requirements and works as envisaged. Functional tests fall into two categories: user acceptance tests and system unit tests.

User acceptance testing evaluates how comfortable the application’s intended audience is with using it. Unlike other tests, user acceptance tests work best when actual users are involved as opposed to the simulation that characterizes other performance tests.

System unit tests, on the other hand, confirm that the different modules of the application work as they should. System unit tests have three aspects: how well each module works, how well each module relates with other modules, and how well the module works in different OS and hardware platforms.

4. Latency Testing

Latency testing looks at the time required to relay a message from one point to another within a network. In the context of application performance, the tester establishes whether there’s an acceptable latency between a user’s request and the application’s response.

For instance, Microsoft Azure has an inbuilt latency test service that allows IT staff to determine the latency between an application’s IP address and an Azure data center anywhere in the world. A latency test is especially important for cloud-based applications that are expected to process requests in real-time.

5. Security Testing

Application vulnerabilities can have a negative impact on users, data, and systems thus causing a deterioration in overall performance. Security tests explore system loopholes and simulate malicious activity to see how well the application is equipped to evade penetration or collapse. That being said, security testing is a delicate undertaking when it comes to cloud applications.

IT teams must obtain permission from the cloud provider for two reasons. First, a penetration test may inadvertently affect other tenants sharing the same server. Second, a test may not be distinguishable from a real attack thus leading to unnecessary countermeasures including involvement of authorities.

Testing is a continuous process. The application environment is constantly changing thanks to OS, third-party applications (such as antivirus) and driver updates. As such, all five types of tests should be performed after every major update in addition to being done periodically.