Application Performance Testing in the DevOps Model

The quest to bring developers and operational people closer together in our Web-centric and increasingly cloud-centric world has created numerous innovations over the years. Many of those innovations, such as SOA, APM and DevOps, focus on the performance testing of apps — a space that neatly intersects the concerns and responsibilities of both developers and operations teams.

The whole DevOps idea has grown up around the awareness that there is a disconnect between development activity and operations activity. This disconnect frequently breeds conflict and inefficiency, exacerbated by a swirl of competing motivations and processes.

For the most part, developers are paid to create solutions (aka changes) that will address the evolving needs of a business. Companies often incentivize developers to create better, faster solutions as quickly and efficiently as possible.

At the same time, companies rely on operations teams to do the exact opposite: preserve the status quo by ensuring that current products and services are stable and reliable, and making money. For operations teams, changes are threatening at best and unwelcome at worst.

Complicating the scene even more is that dev and ops teams often use different software tools, report to competing corporate leaders, and practice conflicting corporate politics. Some dev and ops teams even work poles apart geographically.

App Performance Testing That Serves Dev and Ops

Over the past year, a number of app performance testing solutions have appeared, some offering real-time testing, deep visibility into apps, integration with multiple technologies, and collaborative working for DevOps stakeholders.

Some of the more interesting solutions include MuleSoft’s Mule ESB and SaaS-based variants of real-user monitoring (RUM) from Compuware and New Relic.

MuleSoft provides enterprise-class software based on Mule ESB, Apache Tomcat, and other open source application infrastructure products. Mule ESB is a lightweight enterprise service bus (ESB) and integration platform. The tool allows cross-functional IT teams to leverage the same Web-based console to deploy, monitor and manage applications, with the goal of enabling more agile deployment processes.

The main value that RUM provides is that it measures key front-end metrics from the moment a user request is initiated in the app to the final loading of the resulting Web page. Compuware’s Gomez Real-User Monitoring measures mobile Web site and native application performance. It measures performance directly from a user’s browser and mobile device, allowing developers and IT professionals to evaluate real-user performance by device or browser, geography, network and connection speed, as well as the resultant impact on business metrics such as page views, conversions, abandonment and end-user satisfaction.

Delivered on demand, Gomez RUM does not require any hardware installation or maintenance. Key capabilities include: mobile browser-based, real-user performance monitoring across all JavaScript-enabled mobile browsers, and mobile native application-based real-user performance monitoring across iOS and Android.

New Relic’s RUM is one of the first commercial implementations of technology built on the Episodes framework for measuring Web page load times. For each page request, New Relic captures network time, time in the application itself and time spent rendering the Web page. The software also tracks the type and version of browser, operating system and geographic location of the user.

App Performance Testing Tools for Developers

Last week, the industry saw another twist on app performance monitoring and testing with the launch of an ecosystem of tools from Mu Dynamics and its partners. Mu Dynamics, a provider of app testing and validation services through its Blitz solution, teamed with AppHarbour, Acquia, Cloudfare and Heroku to integrate Blitz into platform as a service (PaaS), content management system (CMS) and application acceleration offerings.

This integration enables developers to test the performance of cloud applications without leaving the workflow of their PaaS, CMS or Web management applications, said Ajit Sancheti, co-founder of Mu Dynamics.

By integrating Blitz into established development platforms such as Heroku, AppHarbor, Acquia, CloudFlare, we are making it easy and affordable for developers to test their apps for load and performance — something that, in many cases, was not happening before,” said Sancheti.

“With Blitz’s load and performance testing service integrated as a CloudFlare App, our developer customers can measure the baseline performance of their Web applications with quantifiable metrics,” said John Roberts, platform lead at CloudFlare.

Sancheti added, “Incorporating a performance testing solution into our customers’ continuous integration model is helping them ensure they deliver a high-quality experience for their end-users.”

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