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The level of cost and effort it takes to fix a software bug depends on when the bug is first detected. So it goes without saying that finding bugs at the earliest stages can be instrumental in not only improving the product’s quality but also good for business before and after deployment. If you’re aware of the term, ‘Shift-Left’ Testing, you will know that it can be used to detect bugs at the early stages of development. But you might be confused with the concept of shift-left performance testing as performance testing is very different from the usual shift-left tests such as unit & functional tests.
Performance tests are usually performed at the tail end of the development cycle as it requires a lot of pricey hardware in dedicated testing environments. So in this blog, we will be exploring why is shift-left performance testing important, how to do it, and take a look at its undeniable advantages as well.
Why is Shift-Left Performance Testing important?
We no longer live in a world where users stick to a product just because it is functional. It is extremely hard for products to even reach the right people at this level of competition. So imagine doing all the hard work and reaching your intended end-user only for the person to be unhappy with your product’s performance. According to a report, 47% of users expect a website to load within a mere 2 seconds. The same could apply for all other products and you could lose hours in just a matter of seconds.
That is why as a leading software testing company, we always recommend viewing performance testing to be as important as unit or functional testing. The real severity of any issue is known only when it is time to fix it.
Solutions to performance issues also won’t come easy as they will require architectural reformation. So naturally, shift-left performance testing is the way to go to detect such issues early and fix them with ease.
The key benefits of shift-left performance testing are:
- The test cycles become more agile & shorter and in turn boost the project velocity.
- Early detection saves a lot of time to ensure faster deployment and delivery to the market.
- Reduce the cost to fix performance issues by identifying the defects early (i.e) when they are cheaper to fix.
- Helps in developing a bankable product that doesn’t face any unexpected performance issues and makes the releases smoother.
- Planning to do performing testing at the very end in higher environments is not easy as other activities such as functional testing, security testing, batch runs, exploratory testing, and infrastructural changes will be happening. So you’d either have to wait until they are over as performance testing can be impacted by such activities.
How to Perform Shift-left Performance testing?
Shift-left performance testing does come along with a lot of challenges, but we always feel that the benefits it has to offer make it an unavoidable practice. Being a leading performance testing service provider, we are now going to explore the various focus points that can help you implement shift-left performance testing at the earliest possible phases of development.
Testing at the Code Level
Adopting Test-Driven Development (TDD) and executing Performance Testing at the code level is one of the foundational steps. The challenge here would be defining the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) at this level. Conventionally, we would be familiar with defining them at an application level. But going the extra mile here will have long-running benefits as defining KPIs for modules and sub-modules will ensure performance at the unit level at first and finally at the application level as well.
Continuous Performance Testing
Integrate performance testing with your CI/CD pipeline by doing performance testing and response time testing for every new feature that is developed during the sprints. So once the newly developed features get integrated with the overall system, performance testing should be conducted to ensure that the newly developed features do not introduce any performance bottlenecks in the overall system behavior.
We have already mentioned that not all the components will be ready when it comes to performing shift-left performance testing. So you might wonder how we will be able to do it without the product having the required infrastructure. Even if you develop components in parallel, having all of them ready will be extremely difficult. You could overcome this issue by using a service virtualization tool to define a baseline of those dependent components and model them as well.
Scaling the Load
So when performing such shift-left performance testing, it is important to keep in mind that the load has to be scaled based on the environment that the product will be tested in. Conventional wisdom would mislead us and make us scale the load using a linear approach. But in reality, scaling depends on multiple parameters and should be handled with care.
Automating the Performance Tests
Think beyond just UI testing during the early phases of development and focus on automated database and API tests. The primary reason behind utilizing API & database testing is that it can be used to accurately narrow down the performance issues hotspot in various products. In addition to that, both those tests possess great scalability qualities that can make it easier to scale the tests as the product starts to go through the next stages of development. We had also mentioned that performance regression testing has to be carried out whenever new features are added to the product. So automation of these regression tests will also be a crucial factor as it would take a lot of time if done manually.
We make sure to build robust and scalable automated test suites that can adapt to the change in requirements that can happen at any given moment. So in addition to achieving the primary objective of shift-left performance testing, it will also serve as an end-to-end solution for the product.
Enhanced Dev & Tester Collaboration
Shit-left testing in general isn’t just about moving the testing steps ahead in the pipeline, it is also crucial to have effective communication and collaboration between the developers and testers at the earliest stages of the development process. You can achieve this by using a centralized dashboard that both can access easily.
Using the right tools
There are various tools available in the market that can match our needs. But picking the right one is always a challenge that you wouldn’t want to fail. Here are a few factors you should look into when choosing a tool for shift-left performance testing.
- The provision to stay in the IDE.
- The ability of the tool to perform the tests using local resources, and scale to the cloud when needed.
- Its integration capabilities to the CI/CD process.
- The collaboration features it has.
- The cost of the tool.
At this point, it is pretty obvious that shift-left performance testing is the only way to ensure that your product doesn’t have any very hard-to-resolve performance bottlenecks. So it definitely has to be a criterion to the ‘Definition of Done’. As explained in the blog, it does come with quite a few challenges that might be hard to overcome. But with an experienced QA company such as us on your side, you will be able to create a winning product.