When we think about the performance of a system, load testing becomes a vital component to measure, analyze, and make informed decisions about high-demand scenarios for your system. Load testing involves simulating real-life load on a system, by creating virtual users who mimic real actions and measure the response.
For example, let’s say we want to perform a load test on a website hoping to receive 1000 users per day. We need to find out how the site will behave when those 1000 users click on a button simultaneously. Will it behave properly or would it crash? Load testing will give you insights into what you need to upgrade, resolve, and optimize in order to maintain website performance during peaks of load.
One thing to remember here is that the results of a load test depend on the environment where it is performed. The two most common approaches are testing in the cloud and testing on-premise. Though both have their pros and cons, I will try my best to best to explain them so that you can decide without spending too much time ⌚
What Is On-Premise Load Testing?
In on-premise testing, the load tests are executed on machines that generate load as virtual users within the data center. All lie in close proximity, the maintenance and upgrades are all done physically. You are responsible for all activities including installation of all tools, supporting software, and any hardware upgrades. The following table shows the benefits of on-premise load testing:
|Benefits of On-Premise Load Testing|
|Control everything virtually||Full control of the environment under test, software, and hardware|
|Full operational and administrative control|
|Data security||Data resides on-premise|
|All tests and results reside in a secured area within the premise|
|No exposure to external entities|
|Low costs||Generally used when the number of users is low and on 1-2 locations only|
While on-premise testing boasts of few advantages (as it offers a larger control on the overall process, security, and low costs when the number of users is quite low), it faces many challenges if we want to scale up the tests in terms of geographical locations or number of users. For the challenges (cons), see the following table:
|Challenges of On-Premise Load Testing|
|Takes more time||The testing time is longer due to the time required to set up and configure the environment|
|The team needs time to upgrade as there might be a limited skill set within the organization|
|High costs||Simulate a higher number of users across various browsers|
|Simulate a higher number of users across various devices|
|More work force is required for various activities|
|Hard to scale||Organization goals and policies may become a bottleneck|
|Higher time to market||We must handle everything|
|Lower ROI||It doesn’t matter if you run for 1,000 users or 1,000,000 users on the same setup|
|Geographical limitations||You can only load test from your location while your users might be from across the globe|
What Is Hosted Online Cloud Load Testing?
In hosted online cloud testing, an already developed cloud infrastructure is available for testing, and you run your load test in that environment. This means that you no longer have to worry about setting up the infrastructure to run, maintain and upgrade load generator machines while effectively outsourcing and utilizing a well-managed testing environment ✅
This gives you more flexibility in terms of operational overhead and leveraging the power of someone who is constantly evolving and enhancing testing infrastructure. The following table shows the benefits of hosted online load testing:
|Benefits of Hosted Online Cloud Load Testing|
|Quick setup||Ready for testing in minutes with managed infrastructure and on-demand cloud capabilities|
|Lower costs||Large scale real-time is possible at a really low cost|
|Simulate a higher number of users across various devices|
|Less work force is required for various activities|
|Highly scalable||Cloud infrastructure is highly scalable in a click|
|Short time to market||Real-time data is available for testing, and tests can be carried out fast|
|Higher ROI||We only pay as we use. No costs are involved if the setup is sitting idle|
|Geographical limitations||Tests are carried out online, removing geographical boundaries|
It does have some disadvantages as well. The major is security issues as cloud is getting more and more involved. The following table shows the challenges of hosted online load testing:
|Challenges of hosted online Load Testing|
|Data security||As reliability on cloud infrastructure increases, the challenge to secure the data increases as well|
|Bandwidth issues||Service providers in different locations offer different bandwidths, causing tests to run slow|
|Redundant tests cost more||Executing the same tests again may cost more as we use the Pay Per User model|
While deciding which way to go, consider the following factors:
💡 What Is Your Goal?
Load testing has different use cases for different scenarios, and the performance is measured accordingly. Choosing either of the testing methods depends on these specific objectives. For example, if you have traffic coming from different geographical locations then you might want to take advantage of a cloud setup.
💡 Who Is Your Audience?
You need to be more realistic about your user demographics and their behaviors. You should know what browsers and devices they use. For example, on-premises testing might be limited in the browser and device varieties, while hosted online cloud will give you the capability of simulating multiple browsers and devices.
💡 What Is Your Budget?
On-premises testing requires huge money upfront, along with ongoing maintenance costs, which is generally ideal for large enterprises. Cloud testing is generally less expensive, and comes with managed service in a plug-and-play style that makes it ideal for small and medium enterprises.
💡 What Is the Virtual Users Capacity?
If you want to simulate a relatively higher number of virtual users, hardware costs, setup costs and complexity increase accordingly for on-premises load testing. On the other hand, cloud load testing costs remain relatively small for scalability and stress testing, and you don’t have to go through setup complexities.
Deciding between cloud-based and on-premise testing depends on multiple technical and operational factors. But in the age the cloud and global users, it gives you numerous advantages over on-premise testing which includes reduced cost, minimum operational overheads, accelerated time to market, and more importantly- flexibility for agile business goals. So use the criteria mentioned above to reach your decision 🚀